Ikigai: The Japanese Art of Finding Purpose in Life

The secret to a long and happy life is not to live in the hope of a great tomorrow but to live in the moment and enjoy whatever you are doing.

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Life has several dimensions and deep purposes, but it’s amazingly fascinating when you understand them. Many people don’t spend time contemplating the purpose of their life because they are satisfied with their choices and beliefs. But what happens when you no longer find meaning in those things you once believed? When your life loses its quaint philosophical charm, you must find your Ikigai.

A few of us have an illusion of what our Ikigai is, while most of us still search for ours. However, once you find yours, life will be more meaningful to you.

The Concept of Ikigai

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that centers around what you live for. Ikigai is originally derived from two words. Iki means life, and gai (from the word kai meaning shell) simply means the realization of hopes and expectations.

But the word ‘Ikigai’ has taken a completely different meaning outside of the Japanese culture.

The New York Times bestseller, Dan Buettner, once pointed out in his book, that Ikigai is mostly practiced in Okinawa, where people live the longest lives. They have been known for living a more healthy and active lifestyle for decades.

This is why it is associated with long life expectancy and termed as an ideology that encapsulates 4 principles;

  • What you love,
  • What the world needs
  • What you are good at
  • What you can be paid for

But for most Japanese, Ikigai has nothing to do with what they will get paid for or money. It embodies something that makes life worth living. Of course, they can include life-defining goals, but not necessarily for the purpose of increasing one’s financial state.

In a nutshell, it encompasses the idea of a fulfilling life without material things like money and luxury.Ikigai is not much of philosophy but a window to the Japanese sense of masculinity. On a deeper level, it is personal and could be a process that reflects the inner self of an individual. It concerns not only your general happiness but also the things that make your life significant.

This concept is deep and important to Japanese, and when you find your Ikigai, you have a greater chance of living a meaningful life.

According to Japanese tradition, everyone has their own Ikigai, which is basically our existence.

It is a sense of purpose and feeling of wellbeing.

Interestingly, it is often used by Japanese speakers to describe moments that bring happiness or to name something that brings joy to their life. In essence, it is the Japanese secret to a satisfying and fulfilling life.

Why Find Your Purpose in Life?

Have you ever had moments when you feel life is meaningless and start questioning the point of it all? It is an awful feeling to contemplate your whole existence. At that moment, it seems almost impossible to find meaning to life.

At times, we find life meaningless. We can’t help but struggle with the existential question of why we are alive. In fact, you might have had a brief moment of living a life with no purpose.

Do you now see why finding your Ikigai is important?

The truth is that life is a roller coaster of joy, sadness, struggles, and happiness.

Unfortunately, a lot of us accept our current reality as it is fixed rather than pursue the things we love. But you know what? Even though the grind gets difficult, you can find pleasure and satisfaction in the things you love. – you have found your Ikigai.

Once you find your Ikigai, it may not only help you to express yourself freely and find more meaning to your existence but also help you take a more positive approach towards life.

Like everyone else, we’ve all had our share of struggles, which has channeled some people towards finding their purpose in life. The purpose of life is not solely about being born or accumulating knowledge and wealth. These are all peripheral aspects of life.

It is the momentary state of desire-less-ness and everything human you will be. The nature of humanity is our shared desire to be loved, and all that matters is what makes us happy. But when you truly understand the unquestionable reasons for your happiness, you will understand your value through your purpose. Life provides platforms that give us a sense of awareness about us and our surroundings. But we all have different levels of consciousness because we all evolve and progress at different paces. Therefore, to define your purpose in life, you must ignore the dissenting voices that question you about your existence in times of doubt. In the end, you need to embrace everything life has in store. Your priority should be to live your best life aligned with your goals and beliefs.

These are what shape your actions and determine your future. So live with genuine purpose and find joy in life through your purpose.

How Does Ikigai Help Us Find Purpose in Life?

The concept of Ikigai indicates the source of value in your life or things that make your life worthwhile. And understanding your purpose directs the journey of your self-discovery, which leads to the path of your destination.

Going by the principle of Ikigai, it does not involve any compulsion; rather, the actions involved are natural. It depends; you can find your purpose for being in connection and harmony with what aligns with your values. That is, being in sync with the natural order of existence.

Our purpose in life is to thrive and grow. And all human action has its end goal, which is the achievement of the state of happiness. Ikigai only proposes to give value to your act of living. And since the activities you are doing are only borne out of choice, there is a likelihood that happiness and genuine joy would eventually follow.

The purpose of life is to be aware and experience our physical reality through our senses of perception. We are given a choice to give life itself meaning and to decide what makes us feel good and happy. When we keep following that route, you will discover what makes you happy without being the best at things. In reality, we have reasons to be happy and enjoy life.

Thus it is an observable fact that everybody gravitates towards connecting with their real identities and what brings joy to our souls.

There is nothing greater and more valuable in this world than to share love and happiness with others.

Waking up each day, living in good health, raising a family, enjoying your hobby all day long, taking steps towards diving deep into your passion, sharing love with friends are all kinds of Ikigai.

The bottom line, finding a balance between the 4 principles of Ikigai, will lead to a creative and progressive life. Once you find your Ikigai and pursue it, you will find more meaning to your life and purpose of existence.

How to Find Your Ikigai in Life

If you have not found your Ikigai, you need to refocus your mindset and focus on the things that make life more meaningful to you. By doing a lot of introspection on your values, interests, and strengths, you will find what you are looking for.

To find your purpose in life, you need to ask yourself some deep questions:

  1. What do you like doing?
  2. What gives you the most joy?
  3. What makes life worth living?
  4. What brightens your day and makes you feel alive?

You may not find the true nature of your purpose and what drives them until you are able to answer these questions. The modern representation in the form of a Venn diagram expressing the 4 principles of Ikigai can be used as a guide for your search.

By expressing your creative self, helping others via your life role and appreciating the small joy in life, your Ikigai will be highly tailored to you.


Ikigai is about finding joy in whatever you do, finding a balance amongst the hectic daily routine we find ourselves stuck in. There is no other life-concept as direct and definite as this one. With Ikigai, you can find your purpose and live one full of joy. 

Do you want to live with your purpose without missing out on your life’s potential? Find your Ikigai today.

This post originally appeared on Moneylogue.com

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