Why Ikigai Can Be the Secret to a Better Life

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In Japan, Okinawa is known as “The Land of the Immortals” due to its high volume of people who live to be over 100 years old. Most of Okinawa’s population functions independently into their late 90s. 

A reason for this feat could be the prefecture’s adherence to ikigai – or a Japanese philosophy that roughly translates to “life’s purpose.” Ikigai (pronounced EE-key-guy) originated in Okinawa, and the centuries-old practice is still widely used there today. Our Ikigai is what gets us out of bed in the morning, or our purpose and motivation for living a full life.

Ikigai allows us to see our lives as a bigger picture, with each small part contributing to a greater whole. This also means we can navigate our bad days and see the good in the future by knowing we have a greater purpose.

It might seem hard to find your ikigai, but it actually lies at the intersection of four relatively simple questions: 

  • What do you love to do?
  • What are you good at doing? 
  • What does the world need?
  • What can you be paid for doing?

By finding a commonality in our responses to these four questions, we can begin on the path toward our own ikigai. 

Ikigai is most-often applied to career goals, but it is also useful to look at this practice in our daily lives. 

Whether you’re trying to have a happier marriage or feel happier overall, “everyday ikigai” uses the concept of life’s purpose to navigate our daily life. Everyday ikigai involves being mindful in our relationships with our minds, bodies and relationships. 

It’s easy to get bogged down by stress and unhappiness, but everyday ikigai reminds us to focus on what is truly important. We can bring ikigai into our daily routine by working out, eating well and telling our friends we’re grateful for them. The goal with these steps is to ground ourselves in the present moment and set ourselves up for success by recognizing the good that is all around us. 

The journey to finding your ikigai begins with a single step – whether that is bringing ikigai into your daily routine or answering the four questions to try to identify your own. Once you start down the path toward purpose, it may just come easier than you think. 


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