What is Your Ikigai?

By EssentialsMAG motivation contributor SASHA KENNEY

Ikigai. It’s a great word, isn’t it? Ikigai. Ikigai. Ikigai. Not only that, it’s also a pretty interesting concept. Especially if you would like to live a long and meaningful life. Or if you are just feeling a little bit lost, perhaps unsure of where you are or where you are going.

So, what does ikigai mean?

Iki = life gai= purpose

Ikigai roughly translates as 'a reason to live' or 'a reason to jump out of bed in the morning'. The Ikigai concept comes from Japan, where people have a reputation for living to a good age.

Specifically, on the island of Okinawa, also known as Village of Longevity, people live longer than anywhere else in the world.

“How so?” I hear you ask. In addition to a good diet and close-nit friendship groups, research shows that it is the focus on their ikigai, that gives the Okinawans a sense of purpose each day and plays an important role in their health and longevity.

What is more, growing research has revealed that finding your ikigai can not only extend and enrich your life, but it also cuts the risk of heart disease, stroke, depression and stress levels.

Interested? Let’s go and find your ikigai
Ikigai has been drawn in books and articles as the centre of a Venn diagram in which your answers to these questions overlap:

  • What do you love?

  • What are you good at?

  • What can you be paid for?

  • What does the world need?

When you find an answer that fits all four questions, that's your ikigai.

There's no single way to learn your ikigai. It can be a spectrum, from small joys to life’s big goals. Your ikigai may be cooking, writing, fighting climate change, running, drawing, and on and on.

To delight. To motivate. To inspire. To share experiences with my family and friends. That is my ikigai and if I could spend every day for the rest of life pursuing it, I would die very happy and apparently very old. I am working on it!

And you? What is your ikigai?

Want to know more? ‘Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life’ by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles.

Victoria Lee