Ikigai (pronounced “Icky Guy”) is a beautiful Japanese concept that loosely translates to “a reason for being.”
Please enjoy the short film above now. It captures the essence of Ikigai and is just delightful. It’s about 15 minutes so get comfy.
The Power of Ikigai
Based on a story of a dying woman in a small village in Japan, the formula to tap into your Ikigai, or life’s purpose, is hundreds of years old.
The closest comparison in western concepts may be the idea of finding yourself “in the flow.” This is when time seems to stand still in the present moment as you are content to create something that stirs your soul.
The Japanese word “Ikigai” is the source of fulfillment in your life or the things that make your life worthwhile. Also, the word is used to refer to all the reasons why individuals feel that their lives are valuable. It has nothing to do with your net worth.
When you’re having an “off” day, staying connected to this larger sense of purpose, feels like ikigai. Ikigai behavior can’t be forced. Only natural and spontaneous behaviors evoke feelings of Ikigai.
Do what you love and love what you do
Aligning your business venture with your personal purpose in life will give you an edge over any business seeking primarily to maximize short-term capital gains. You will naturally be more productive, effective and fulfilled. And you’re more likely to attract a team of folks who’ll be inspired to assist you in whatever you dare to accomplish.
The Japanese short story that inspired the concept of Ikigai:
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. “We did not ask whose wife you are but who you are.”
“I am the mother of four children.” “We did not ask whose mother you are, but who you are.”
“I am a school teacher.” “We did not ask what your profession is, but who you are.”
And so it went. No matter what she said, she could not give a satisfactory answer to the question, “Who are you?”
“I am a Buddhist.” “We did not ask you what your religion is, but who you are.”
At last she said, “I am the one who wakes up each morning to care for my family, and nurture the young minds of the children in school.”
This is when she passed the exam, 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. This woman had discovered her Ikigai.
So why do you get up every morning?
Take 10 minutes in a quite place and use the following questions as writing prompts. Don’t worry about “getting it right.” Just write whatever comes to mind and reflect on any insights.
What does the world want and need more of?
Why is money important to you?
What are a few of the most important things money provides you with?
What can you be the best in the world at?