How To Discover Your Ikigai?

The Japanese secret to health, happiness and longevity.

Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

Have you ever thought:

It’s refreshing to know that in recent years, as a society, we’ve started to move away from the idea that economic success, wealth and possessions are signs of achievement or the sole items responsible for our happiness.

Did you know?

  • Previous studies have shown Japanese longevity to be closely related to dietary and health practices.
  • New studies on Japanese philosophy have shown life fulfillment through ikigai as a key component to longevity.

What is Ikigai?

We all strive for satisfaction and purpose in our lives. Your ikigai is your reason for jumping out of bed in the morning, what motivates you to revel in and appreciate life every day.

Ikigai is a beneficial practice in career growth because like your own passions and needs, and what the world needs — the meditation of ikigai grows and changes with you. There’s not necessarily an end to your ikigai practice, it’s an ongoing journey.

How to find your Ikigai?

To find your Ikigai, you must ask yourself:

1. What do I love? (passion)

2. What am I good at? (vocation)

3. What can I be paid for? (profession)

4. What does the world need? (mission)

Ikigai is the union point of four fundamental components of life: passion, vocation, profession and mission. In other words, where; what you love meets what you are good at, meets what you can be valued and paid for meets that which the world needs. Ikigai is only complete if the goal implies service to the community. We feel more satisfied giving gifts than receiving. The next step, once you’ve identified these components, would be to start following your compass. Start working on your questions, and see how your answers fit in the Ikigai fundamental components.

According to the diagram, the intersection of what you are good at and what you can be paid for is your profession. The intersection of what the world needs and what you love is your mission.

Sometimes three of the criteria overlap, like the case where your passion (what you are good and what you love) and your mission (what you love and what the world needs) overlap. In that case, you have “delight and fullness, but no wealth.” Ikigai is when all four criteria are satisfied.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.” ~Howard Thurman

What the world needs, and what people will pay for are the same.

Even if we consider social problems like poverty and homelessness, those with resources are willing to pay to help alleviate these problems. We economize on the use of resources to alleviate social problems through voluntary donations from others. Thus, somebody with a need who cannot pay for that need to be met is still covered by the blue-red total eclipse.

“People have the potential to create your environment. Your environment then determines your mindset, and your mindset determines your future”. ~Myles Munroe (The Principles and Power of Vision)

The law of association guarantees you a spot in the division of labour.

Everybody has a comparative advantage because even if somebody is really good at something, it means they incur a high cost by doing anything else. Said another way, if somebody is really good at something, then somebody else can produce something else at a relatively lower cost. The law of association is based on this logic. One man’s relative productivity in A is necessarily another man’s relative productivity in B.

Individuals find their comparative advantage by interacting with others in the market. It is only by surveying existing producers, goods, and the prices of those goods that one can make an informed decision on what to produce or where to apply for jobs.

Photo by Rita Vicari on Unsplash

What you love and what you prefer.

Unfortunately, the economic theory cannot guarantee the fourth criterion: that you love what you do. That part is up to you and your values. Economics can guarantee, however, that you will do what you prefer, which might be considered a broader category that encompasses what you love to do.

Photo by Jeff Nissen on Unsplash

The 5 pillars that enhance your Ikigai.

Ken Mogi, a neuroscientist and author of Awakening Your Ikigai, advises us to focus on what he labels the five pillars, which are:

1. Starting small

2. Accepting yourself

3. Connecting with the world around you

4. Seeking out small joys

5. Being in the here and now

To make the most of the five pillar method, Mogi suggests incorporating this mindset in the first couple of hours after you wake up to start your day on the right foot and get your brain accustomed to this way of thinking.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Time to find your Ikigai.

Over the next several weeks, set aside time to ponder these questions. You might even consider journaling your answer and thinking about how your answers change over time. Revisit them a month from now. Six months. A year.

We cannot expect to find our Ikigai overnight. Ikigai is an understanding of our own unique life mission, and for most, that takes many years — and it often changes. However, the more determined you are to find your Ikigai, the more quickly you will do so.

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Physical and Health Educator l Writer on Medium l Podcast Host on Living Your Greatness

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