Ikigai is a Japanese proverb, and it simply means “a reason for being”. This concept has been around for centuries in Japan and you can find a perfect example of its benefits taking fruit in Japan’s blue zone, and home to the longest living people on the planet, Okinawa.
I first came across the concept when I was strolling around the picturesque canals of Amsterdam, wandering in to a small bespoke bookstore just off De 9 Straatjes. ‘Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life’ Book by Albert Liebermann and Hector Garcia. From just reading a few words on the blurb I was sold, “The people of Japan believe that everyone has an ikigai – a reason for getting out of bed in the morning”. As an Artist, my Ikigai comes quite naturally, I have a reason for getting out of bed in the morning, I have something that gives me a sense of fulfilment and makes me happy. But ikigai is more than that, yes your ikigai is something that fulfils your passion, however it has to cover more bases to become your reason for being.
Finding a path in your life is not easy as there are so many obstacles that can come your way and knock you off course, but taking the time to find your ikigai and defining what your personal ikigai is will help guid you through this crazy whirlwind that is the world we live in. Defining this will be a beacon that drives you, gives you energy, brings you joy in your everyday routine, and ultimately will be your purpose or reason for being.
Your ikigai will be made up of four things, what you love to do, what you are good at doing, what you can get paid for and what the world needs. It’s important that you cover all of theses bases, as doing so will give you more than just getting paid a nice sum at the end of the month or doing something that you enjoy but doesn’t help those around you and leaves a empty gap in your life that you don’t know how to fill. Encompassing your passion, mission, vocation and profession will give you your ikigai however its not easy to define and in most cases its not that straightforward to change your path to align with your ikigai.
I have some idea of where my ikigai lies but I believe it will be something that will develop and mature as I grow as a person, also taking in to account that the world will inevitability change around us. The reason I’m writing this right now is in pursuit of my ikigai, if by writing this I can help one person on their path to finding their ikigai then that will bring me closer to finding mine.
This brings me nicely on to what I want you to do right now.
Take these four images and write down everything that comes to your mind.