The Japanese concept of Ikigai

The Japanese concept of Ikigai

Let’s start off with the pronunciation - ee-key-guy.

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means your ‘reason for being.’ ‘Iki’ in Japanese means ‘life,’ and ‘gai’ describes value or worth. It’s what brings you joy and inspires you to get out of bed every day “a passion that gives joy and value to life”.

Where does Ikigai come from?

The Japanese philosophy of Ikigai dates back to the Heian period between 794 -1185. Added to the fact that Japan ranks in the top 3 for life expectancy in the world certainly gives kudos to the concept.

While there are criticisms, it’s also undeniable that many individuals worldwide have found solace, direction, and purpose through the Ikigai model.

Ikigai - Everything is connected

Ikigai struck a chord with us as the fundamental concept is based on everything being connected and synergistic. We often feel conflicted in our lives with seemingly opposing wants and needs – for example wholesome family values versus the need for money!

Rather than view the different areas of our lives as separate, feelings of peace and happiness lie at the intersections and connect everything together as the diagram above depicts.

Apart from living a longer and happier life, the Westernised version of Ikigai says you’ve found your dream career when your career includes these four qualities:

  1. What do you love?
  2. What are you good at?
  3. What does the world need?
  4. What can you be paid for?

When you know your ikigai and understand its meaning it can help you:

  • Design your ideal work lifestyle
  • Create strong social connections at work
  • Create a healthy work-life balance
  • Pursue your career dreams
  • Enjoy your work

…embracing the joy of little things, being in the here and now, reflecting on past happy memories, and having a frame of mind that one can build a happy and active life.” (Ikigai Tribe, 2019)

The 10 rules of Ikigai

  1. Stay active; don’t retire.
  2. Take it slow.
  3. Don’t fill your stomach.
  4. Surround yourself with good friends.
  5. Get in shape for your next birthday.
  6. Smile.
  7. Reconnect with nature.
  8. Give thanks.
  9. Live in the moment.
  10. Follow your Ikigai.

These rules are taken from the book from the book - Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life by Garcia & Miralles, 2016 – certainly worth a read if you’re interested to find out more about Ikigai.

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