The Ikigai: Meaning of life
What if you could live longer… simply by doing what you love to do the most?
This attractive theory has its source in the community on the island of Okinawa, which is nicknamed the “Village of Longevity” because its residents have the highest life expectancy in the world. They also share a Japanese philosophy known as ikigai, which is often translated as “the happiness of being busy with an activity that has meaning and purpose for oneself”.
What is Ikigai?
There are places on earth where people live longer, on average, than in the rest of the world. Author Dan Buettner has researched these areas and has dubbed them the “Blue Zones”, of which Japan and the island of Okinawa in particular are part. He discovered that one factor that plays an important role in the health and vitality of Okinawans is having a purpose in life, called “Ikigai” by the Japanese.
Thus, beyond eating habits and the environment, this Japanese concept plays a major role in the ability to grow old in good health. Because your ikigai allows you to continue to project yourself into the future despite the difficulties you face day after day. Dan Buettner talks about it in his TEDtalk “How to live to be over 100” .
The etymology of the word Ikigai literally means “Your reason for getting out of bed in the morning”, your reason for being. The word “Ikigai” is the combination of ‘iki’ meaning life or living, and the word ‘kai’ meaning value, effect, result or utility.
Where is your ikigai? It is simply the activity in the center that combines the strengths of each circle. Here is an illustration with a Venn diagram:
As you can see, there are 4 circles that represent:
- What you like
- What you’re good at
- What the world needs
- What you are (or will be) paid for
At the same time, each circle in the diagram is incomplete on its own. You must therefore pay the same attention to each area that makes up your life.
How to use your ikigai?
You will only be able to apply your ikigai when you already know what you want for yourself. For many this requires a good dose of introspection and research first. But that doesn’t stop you from starting to fill your ikigai with what you already know, as in this example.
Start by filling in the circles with words, ideas, pictures or phrases that apply to “What you like”, “What you’re good at”, “What the world needs”, “What you’ll get paid for”. If necessary, ask yourself these questions to clarify your thoughts:
1- What you like: What do you enjoy doing? What touches you? What passions do you have?
2- What you are good at: What are your talents and how can you develop them? What are you proud of? What do you do that is useful to others?
3- What the world needs: How can you contribute to the world? What changes does one wish to create within the world?
4- What you will be paid for: What skills can you monetize? What ideas do you have that are valuable?
The Ikigai is the point of union of the four fundamental components of your life: passion, vocation, profession and mission. In other words, where the different circles meet and overlap. Where what you love meets what you are gifted at, which connects to what you can be paid for and what the world needs. The Ikigai is only complete if each part is correctly identified and then filled in.
So when you think about each area, take your time and welcome the ideas that come along with an open mind. Look at the big picture to discover the connections between each circle. Make sure that you fill each circle fairly, otherwise you will not achieve balance in your life. In this way, your ikigai will eventually become clear and consistent for you.
You will feel that your efforts are making a difference in the lives of others, contributing to something greater than yourself. This directly impacts your level of motivation to perform your daily tasks.
This is what Professor A has noticed. Grant of the University of Pennsylvania: what motivates employees most at work was to do “tasks that improve the well-being of others” and to “see or meet the people affected by their work” (source).
In another experiment, University of Michigan volunteers who spent time physically with students to receive funds raised 171% more money than those who solicited funds solely by phone. Simply meeting students gave meaning to the volunteers and improved their results.
The advantages of having your “ikigai” are very clear. It provides you a reason to urge up within the morning.. Appreciating your work and loving what you do gives meaning to your life. Combine this with a healthy diet and a pleasant environment, and you will be able to grow old with all the chances on your side to keep your good health.
Ikigai also reveals two important facets of life in general:
- The feeling and belief that life is worth living [Being]: We are also spiritual beings, and the joy of living, the feeling of having value, and being able to share that with the world is important to us.
- That we all have a meaningful purpose that animates our lives [Do]: There are things that we need to cultivate internally, our talents and skills. This then allows us to grow, both in our work, with our family, and to make our dreams come true.
Reconnecting with ourselves and our actions is therefore the path to self-fulfillment.
Being satisfied and fulfilled in one’s life has been one of the ultimate goals of humanity since the dawn of time. We are constantly looking for practices that can bring us closer to this personal fulfillment.
The philosophy of ikigai shows us that our work is not peripheral to our happiness and personal fulfillment, but on the contrary that it is associated with all aspects of our lives. The ikigai is therefore a tool that allows us to reconcile all areas of our life, to achieve the same goal: to be fulfilled in one’s life.
Indeed, many spend a large part of their lives doing insipid work. A work that requires them to make a superhuman effort to get out of bed every morning and go to a place where they do not feel valued. Where the work boils down to doing what they are asked to do, no more and no less, regardless of their opinion or intellect.
That’s why it’s so important to come back to yourself, to perhaps find your childhood dreams that you’ve been putting aside all this time, and to be able to get up in the morning with the joy of making a positive contribution to your life and the world around you.
Once you have found your Ikigai, there is no more reason to retire. After all, when you have found your goal it is for life and the idea of stopping pursuing it will not even occur to you. In reality, retirement as conceived by our modern society may simply hasten your death.
On this occasion, we thank Samantha Obens for having enriched this article, citing her experience below.
Meaning of life
How to give meaning to one’s life? That’s a good question, isn’t it? It’s hard to feel happy or to be positive if you don’t have a really good reason to get up in the morning. What I mean is something that really animates us what. Sometimes, we also just have our heads completely in the handlebars. We move forward in life without even asking ourselves if what we are doing has a purpose or meaning for us. And then one day, a divorce, a burn-out, the death of a loved one, an accident, an illness, or a Firing us will put us on the wall… And then, it’s the big slap! To save you this experience how unpleasant.
1. DETERMINE WHAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT FOR YOU
Have you ever taken the time to sit down for a few minutes and ask yourself what is really important to you? By that, I mean how YOU really want to live your life. Yes, YOU. Regardless of the ideas that society tries to impose on you or the beliefs inherited from your family, from your professional or friendly environment… What are the 5 things that you can do to make your life easier? most important for you in life? The ones that you wouldn’t want to be next to pass? To help you find the meaning you could give to your life, I recommend the article: The 5 regrets of people at the end of life
2. PURSUE YOUR PASSION
As Friedrich Hegel said: “Nothing great has been accomplished in the world without passion”. Little whatever it is, whether you love knitting, painting, cooking, poetry, reading, writing, reading, reading the cardboard, singing, tuning, dancing, whether you collect garden gnomes or you realize sculptures in matches… Never give up your passion. When you make something you love deeply, you are at the moment. You are in completely to what you do. No room for negative thoughts. In fact, very often we will say “It clears my head” or “I didn’t see the time go by”. A passion creates energy in you, but especially an incomparable and so communicative joy. The teachers I remember today with emotion are those who taught with passion. Passion is perceived and makes all the difference! Of course, the top of the top is when you manage to live from your passion.
Fulfillment is necessarily less when you work only to earn money…
So, if you feel like an entrepreneur, and you can no longer see your boss or your
colleagues in painting, why not create your own activity related to your passion?
3. FIND YOUR LIFE MISSION
How to find one’s life mission? How do you know what to do with your life? I have searched relentlessly for answers to these questions until 2016. That year, I participated in the Create and improve your life with Laurie Audibert’s Law of Attraction. I had become a graphic designer following a reconversion in 2011. This is the job I wanted to do when I was 17 years old, yet I still didn’t feel fulfilled, remember perfectly what I said to Laurie that day: “I thought that when we found her
mission in life, what we’re really made for, we knew it was that… Like when we met love.
of his life. We know it’s him. I know I’m on the way, but it’s not that yet”. She asked me what that I would like to do ideally. Without hesitation, I answered: “my blog”. I met Laurie again
a little later to work specifically on my life mission. I did a study on my assets and qualities, what I like to do, what I know how to do, my interests, my values, and my needs in professional terms.
4. DETACH YOURSELF FROM THE MATERIAL ASPECT
Everything today is made to make us consume, buy more and more, create needs, create
envy… In reality, we become completely slaves to all these objects from a very young age. I really realized this when I started to de-clutter my house. On is attached to all the memories that these objects represent and it can be very difficult to part with them.
A typical example is a house… How many couples try to put the pieces back together because they
can’t bring themselves to sell their house? How many people are going to pass up opportunities because they are too attached to their house and don’t want to move? Earning money and Wanting to spend it is not the problem, but rather the desire to buy material goods, Why not use it to create beautiful memories with the people you love? Vacations, restaurants, concerts, movies, travel, spa relaxation days, amusement parks, cooking workshops, or pastry … There is no shortage of ideas! Just think of all the moments in your life that go with it. These shared life experiences are an opportunity to connect with others. And this will make you much happier in the long run than the last iPhone. Your relationships also give meaning to your life…
5. DEVELOP YOUR QUALITIES OF HEART
As we have seen, it is very often the wealth and material comfort that symbolizes success in our company. Of course, material success can help us to achieve our life mission, but from a spiritual point of view, it is not the real priority. As far as I am concerned, I believe in karma and reincarnation. I’m not here to convince you of anything, I don’t pretend to hold the truth and everyone is free to believe whatever they want about it. Always it is this belief that gives meaning to my life and my actions. I think that man is incarnated to evolve spiritually, to evolve himself, to evolve himself. perfection and that the Earth is nothing but a great school. Karma is a universal law of cause and effect. Everything that happens to you today is the result of what you sowed in the past, both good and bad, in this life and in your past lives, if you believe in it. By going back to Earth, you have the opportunity to offset your karmic debts through your actions and by opening up your heart. Let love, compassion, generosity, generosity, tolerance, tolerance, and compassion enter into your life.
gratitude, forgiveness… Put yourself at the service of others, inspire them, support them, help them to
Whether or not you believe in reincarnation and karma, to move forward, to improve their quality of life… Whether or not you believe in reincarnation and karma, to move forward…
In any case, developing such qualities has never hurt anyone!
6. WORK FOR A BETTER WORLD
We can all at our level contribute to making the world a better place. There must be at least one cause that is close to your heart: ecology, fight against hunger, sick children, orphans, underprivileged or mistreated, poverty, animal protection … Or a project that deserves to be supported on a crowdfunding platform (participative financing). This is what I did with the collection dedicated to the documentary And I choose to live. Frankly, I didn’t have a dime at the time, but I was so touched by the process that I put in 10 dollars. 10 small dollars that will have an impact enormous because this film can help thousands of people to better cope with their grief. If you don’t have you can donate your time, energy, and skills to an organization that has been associated, even on an occasional basis. Last year, I went to wrap Christmas presents.
Since I was a kid, I’ve been wrapping gifts. I might as well use this experience for something! The money collected was donated to an association that makes the dreams of sick children come true. It has
not disrupted my schedule to devote a few hours to this, but it gave me happiness.
You can also give away your children’s toys and clothes when you sort out, act for the ecology by reducing your waste, changing your consumption habits (commerce, retail, etc.)
Fair, local, organic)…There are no small actions. It’s up to you to see what makes sense for you.
And for you moreover, it means what it means to give meaning to your life.
All of this seems so obvious to me today that I tend to forget that I don’t always have.
I hope that this article will allow you to consider the why of the how of your existence from a new angle. I refuse to believe that life is all about the subway, work, sleep, retreat if you are lucky, and then, nothing, death, absolute nothingness… What sadness! I am not going to you redo the philosophy course you saw in your senior year, but I am one of those who refuse to believe that life is absurd. Let’s take advantage of the time we are given to do good around us and evolve.