Ikigai 生き甲斐


Ikigai  生き甲斐   is a Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being”. Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is regarded as being very important, since it is believed that discovery of one’s ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning to life.[1]

In the culture of Okinawa, ikigai is thought of as “a reason to get up in the morning”; that is, a reason to enjoy life. In a TED Talk, Dan Buettner referenced ikigai as one of the reasons people in the area had such long lives.

The word “ikigai” is usually used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile. Secondly, the word is used to refer to mental and spiritual circumstances under which individuals feel that their lives are valuable. It’s not necessarily linked to the economic status or today state of things. Even if a person feels that today’s dark, but has a goal, he may feel ikigai. Behaviours that make one feel ikigai are not actions which individuals are forced to take – these are natural and spontaneous actions.

The term “ikigai” is composed of two Chinese characters : iki and kai. Iki refers to life and kai is a suffix meaning roughly “the realisation of what one expects and hopes for.”

Kobayashi says that people can feel ikigai only when on the basis of personal maturity, the satisfaction of various desires, love and happiness, encounters with others, and a sense of the value of life, they proceed towards self-realization.

In a small village outside of Osaka, a woman in a coma was dying. She suddenly had a feeling that she was taken up to heaven and stood before the Voice of her ancestors.

“Who are you?” the Voice said to her.

“I am the wife of the mayor,” she replied. “I did not ask whose wife you are but who you are.” “I am the mother of four children.” “I did not ask whose mother you are, but who you are.” “I am a school teacher.” “I did not ask what your profession is but who you are.”

And so it went. No matter what she replied, she did not seem to give a satisfactory answer to the question, “Who are you?”

“I am a Shinto.” “I did not ask what your religion is but who you are.” “I am the one who wakes up each day to care for my family, and nurture the young minds of the children at my school.”

She passed the examination, and was sent back to earth. The next morning she woke at sunrise, feeling a deep sense of meaning and purpose. She tended to her children’s lunches, and planned fun lessons for her students that day. The woman had discovered her ikigai.


Related topics
In a TED Talk, Dan Buettner used ikigai as one of the reasons people in the area had such long lives.
Explore: Dan Buettner
Kamiya stated that those who have firm Ikigai would be those who realize their own mission, or purpose in life, and who are deliberately progressing toward their goals.
My ikigai is to wake up each morning in celebration of the gift of a new day that the Lord has blessed me with.  A day to work, a day to earn, a day to provide, a day to serve, and a day to make a positive impact in the life of others, especially my children, family, and friends.  A day to recognize that I am not alone.  I am not alone in what I do, where I go, to whom I may meet, and what I may endure.  That there is something much larger.  A greater plan and I get the opportunity to participate.
  • I am blessed to have the opportunity to be a son, a father, a friend, a brother, an uncle, and an American.
  • I am blessed to be an employee, a writer, a business consultant that gets to make other business owners’ lives better, more productive and more profitable.
  • I am blessed to have faith and to tell others about the saving grace of God and the purpose of Jesus Christ.
  • I am blessed to be a friend to comfort my friends.  To celebrate with my friends.  To help my friends,  To create memories with my friends,  To experience the magnitude of life with my friends.
  • I am greatly blessed to be a father.  One of the most important roles in a human being’s life is to be a parent.  I get to love, praise, nurture, guide and teach my children.  To be a parent, I know it is a great responsibility and an even greater blessing.
  • I am blessed to be a brother who gets to be honored as a brother.  To laugh, to share experiences, to help my siblings and to grow together.
  •  I am blessed to be an uncle, to be there to laugh, to help teach and make a few positive deposits in my niece’s and nephew’s life.
  • I am blessed to be involved in a Christian Ministry.  I get to serve with my talents to further the cause of Christ, and see others saved through whatever efforts I may put forth, with the time, talents and treasure given to me by my Creator.
  • I am blessed to be a coach and a Sensei to teach and help mold young minds and bodies. To help adults achieve their physical goals and aspirations.
  • I am blessed to be a U.S. citizen that lives in the greatest country in the world.  I am thankful for my freedom and realize all who paid the ultimate price so that I can have that freedom.  I am proud to be an American, and I am proud of the troops that keep us safe, and further the cause of democracy.
My Ikigai is all of the above.  My purpose is to cherish it and live it everyday with principles and passion. My mission statement is, To pour as much love and wisdom into my children as possible and make a positive impact in the lives of others for the Cause of Christ.”

About DW

Living out my Ikigai and helping others find theirs which consists of launching life with purpose, navigating with principles, and exploring with passion!
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1 Response to Ikigai 生き甲斐

  1. Pingback: Snowboard instructing: So worth it. | chasing snow

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