Posted on 




Ikigai'The Japanese concept for…' feels bit like 'The German word for...' but that aside I've always really liked the Japanese concept of Ikigai, which means 'reason for being'. This WEF piece about the concept got some Twitter love earlier this week and reminded me of it. In Japanese culture, everyone has an Ikigai. Finding it can require a lengthy search of self, but it ultimately brings satisfaction and and meaning to life ('Iki' means 'life', and 'gai means value or worth). In Okinawa apparently, it is thought of as the reason to get up in the morning, and some have posited that it is one of the reasons why people there live so long.

Mieko Kamiya, author of an early definitive book on Ikigai says that it is what allows you to look forward to the future, regardless of how you feel now. But I particularly like the fact that, as this piece notes, Ikigai is more attuned to the way in which you live your daily life rather than some grand life purpose, and how Japanese people 'believe that the sum of small joys in everyday life results in a more fulfilling life as a whole' (a point echoed by the WEF article).

This is part of the reason why I get so frustrated with the idea that we all have a singular grand purpose in life. Instead, it is far more realistic to think about life as being about experience and growth around a number of purposes that shift as we progress through life, and far more valuable to think of how we can learn and progress through experimentation to find and follow them. Combining what we love, what we are good at, what the world needs, and what we can make money from on a daily basis seems an eminently sensible way of adapting our way towards fulfilment.

Leave a Reply