Ikigai - Meaning, purpose and reason for living of the Japanese

Do you know the meaning of the word Ikigai? This Japanese word is used to represent the purpose of life, the purpose of a person's life, a force that motivates the reason for living. In this article, we will go deep into the meaning and concept of the word Ikigai and its importance.

Ikigai is not just an art, it's a philosophy, a concept, a secret, a lifestyle, some apply it to work, culture, art, while others even take it to the spiritual side. As it is a very complex subject, let's do a summary below:

the meaning of ikigai

The word iki-gai is written with the characters [生き甲斐] where [生き] means to live and [甲斐] means effect, value, result or something worthwhile. Iki-gai is nothing more than a word that represents a goal in life, something to keep living for.

Although it looks like just a japanese word, its meaning is quite strong and should not be used lightly. There are numerous theories related to Ikigai that we will cover throughout the article.

There are people who try to unravel the true meaning of life, turning ikigai into an art that leads people to discover their life purpose. Will you be able to unravel its meaning?

Ikigai - meaning, purpose and reason for living of the Japanese

The Origin and History of Ikigai

The Ikigai concept is believed to have historical origins and meanings from the Heian period (794 to 1185) or much earlier. The ideogram [甲] comes from shell or carapace which was something very valuable in the past. The ideogram [斐] literally means beautiful, flowery or patterned.

Some link this word with other concepts involving values such as passion and skills, in addition to the words yarigai which means value of doing and hatarakigai which means value of working. We can see this ideal at work in different parts of Japanese culture such as punctuality, respect and peace.

Some claim that the longevity of the japanese has strong concept relationship with Ikigai. We can reflect on how the Japanese culture and community works to understand that having a real purpose in life results in Japan growing as a pleasant country and society.

Ikigai - the meaning and purpose of life in Japanese

According to Japanese tradition, everyone has an ikigai (or purpose in life), something quite obvious and logical. The big problem is that most people can't find that purpose or don't live up to it.

Some claim that this concept and philosophy can even lead to a long, satisfying and healthy life. A great example is found in the inhabitants of Okinawa who live according to this philosophy, the place with the highest proportion of people reaching 100 years of age on planet earth.

"Ikigai is your reason for living, it's the reason you wake up every day." - Ken Mogi

The Ikigai tradition, philosophy and concept

We know that Ikigai is a way of life with the aim of bringing harmony, longevity and full satisfaction in various areas of life. Below we can see a common representation of the concept of Ikigai through a mandala that involves something we love, something we are good at, something we can get paid for, and something the world needs.

Ikigai - the meaning and purpose of life in Japanese

In each circle we can see a junction of 4 different themes that are Passion, Profession, Vocation and Mission. The goal is to find the answers to questions such as:

  • What do you love?
  • What are you good at?
  • In what does the world need you?
  • What can you get paid for?

When finding the answers, you must strike a balance between these four areas. It seems like something complicated to understand, I personally couldn't understand it well when doing research on this subject, but the Japanese themselves consider Ikigai a slow and confusing process.

The article is still halfway through, but we recommend also reading:

Ikigai in Psychology and Coaching

For some, Ikigai appears to be something meaningless, difficult to understand or an exaggeration without purpose. In fact, Ikigai can be compared with other interesting concepts such as kaizen method and other Japanese concepts about work, life, culture, education and spirit.

In the West we can compare the understanding of Ikigai with psychology and coaching. For many it seems like something without explanation or logic, a waste of money or something without effect. I myself have been to a psychologist and psychoanalyst several times and to this day I cannot understand the value and functioning of those sections even though I admit the results.

Ikigai - the meaning and purpose of life in Japanese

In fact, Ikigai is strongly linked to Coaching, many apply it in their professional life, not to mention that the skills and abilities of a professional in coaching can help people achieve a goal in their professional and personal lives. I think all coachings know and study this Japanese concept.

Not to mention that most of our psychological or even physical problems can be solved and faced with the help of Ikigai. One of the things that leads a person to depression or suicide is the great emptiness or lack of purpose in life. I myself have felt it several times, trying to reflect and find a way.

Can you understand Ikigai?

There are numerous theories related to Ikigai, we cannot define a single or correct concept about the word, different authors and researchers share different ideas about these concepts involving the purpose of life. The only thing we are sure of is the basic ideas we found in this article.

Ikigai - the meaning and purpose of life in Japanese

Authors share that the secret of the population of Okinawa and other Japanese areas lies in light food, adequate rest and exercise. To a certain extent they are correct, but it also requires a person to have joy in life, something that drives them to continue living each day.

It doesn't matter if the person is a professional, famous or rich. On the contrary, many people who think to achieve fame and money that apparently can make dreams come true, end up being empty and aimless, without achieving the true happiness that can be trapped and hidden within our interior.

Tips for Reaching Ikigai

Doing some research, I've gathered some points based on some books and authors that will be at the end of the article, which explain some tips and ideas that can help us achieve a goal in life or ikigai. I will share some below:

Ikigai - the meaning and purpose of life in Japanese

You need to get out of the rut, autopilot or countless repetitive days. Stop and ask yourself if this is really what you want to do every day. And don't be fooled into thinking that there are no alternatives or ways out. At least try to take the first step towards your dreams and never give up!

We shouldn't compare with other people or wishing for the same happiness that others are “supposedly” possess. We need to focus on ourselves and we don't need to compete with other people, we must run at our own pace.

Just loving to do one thing is not enough to determine that we will succeed and be skilled at it. We must accept our limitations and focus on our abilities instead of trying to develop impossible abilities, but never stop trying!

Passion is strongly linked with professionSome believe it is impossible to work with something we love, or think it won't be profitable. Imagine if I had listened to the people around me and gotten a regular job instead of creating this website about things I love? I would probably be unemployed now...

Ikigai - the meaning and purpose of life in Japanese

It's not just a job, it's your life! Those who understand and strive to transform work into something more than a form of profit tend to have more motivation, satisfaction and results. Our work needs to bring satisfaction to us and to other people involved. Not just work but anything else we do in life.

Ikigai is something personal that only you can understand. So dedicate yourself to exploring your mind.

Have you found your meaning and purpose in life?

While writing this article I realized that more than 100,000 Brazilians search for Ikigai every month, probably looking for some purpose in life or trying to fulfill their dreams. I don't have any experience with Ikigai, nor did I even know of its existence, but I believe that its ideals really matter in everyone's life.

We live in a world where most people don't follow their own path, they just follow trends and live in a herd effect. They don't have opinions of their own, they live stressed, with hate and complaining. And even in satisfying selfish pleasures, they cannot find happiness, value, and purpose in life.

Ikigai - the meaning and purpose of life in Japanese

All my life I thought differently from most people, even though I'm easy to be influenced, I don't let it influence my actions and thoughts. I never stopped liking something because others hate it, nor did I start liking something because everyone else does. We should all have our own way of thinking and acting, respecting those of others.

It was by closing my ears to comments and generalized ideas of how we should live that I managed to achieve my goals and still struggle to achieve new goals that arise. The struggle is daily and you shouldn't waste time with negative people or people who don't help to achieve our purpose.

The world needs positive results, our actions affect the people around us, resulting in the disaster that is our country and the world in general. If you apply at least some of Ikigai's ideas, you will be able to find true meaning in life, in addition to achieving your dreams and goals.

Have you ever tried to find your purpose in life? Did you try to apply the ideas described in the article? Have you ever thought about researching this subject further by reading several books about Ikigai? We want you to share this ideal with the world, and let us know what you think of iki-gai.

Ikigai to Fill

How do you feel about filling out an Ikigai chart yourself? As we've seen before, it's easy, just follow the graphic below, which is in PNG in great quality for you to download, color and fill in the way you want.

Remember to use all the ideas expressed in this article to properly fill out your Ikigai. If you have any questions or difficulties in figuring out its purpose, we invite you to delve deeper into the concept of Ikigai with books and courses.

Ikigai - the meaning and purpose of life in Japanese
Ikigai - the meaning and purpose of life in Japanese

Mobile Application - Ikigai App

Why fill in an Ikigai chart when you can download an app for it? Yes, there are several Ikigai apps for Android and iOS, just search for Ikigai in the Play Store or App Store. See what some of these apps are capable of.

It's not just some apps where you fill in an option in each circle, you can add different alternatives, organize schedules, calendars and tasks. Some apps can even tell you what your Ikigai is.

Some even manage their money, their routine and their activities. You may also want to consider apps to organize your lifestyle, organization is the first step in finding your Ikigai.

Ikigai - meaning, purpose and reason for living of the Japanese

Ikigai Mentality Program by Marcelo Pimenta

This program is transformative for those seeking a balance between work and personal life. The goal is to find your purpose through Ikigai, you will have the support you need to make the changes you need in your life.

Such changes aim to make you happier, healthier, have a prosperous life with the amount of money you want, have a long and full life. This course brings together more than 25 years of knowledge from Professor Marcelo Pimenta.

Marcelo Pimenta has already created training courses for ESPM, Sebrae, Universidade da Caixa and even UNESCO. Its purpose is a direct monthly live and group follow-up. If you are interested in knowing this program, just click on the button below:

Reason for Living by Luis Fernando Tepasse

You know those days that seem to last a week? You arrive home exhausted, unable to react, immersed in sadness, anguish and fear. You live in this automatic, not knowing where your energy went to fulfill your dreams and goals.

Action must be taken, but how? I'll help you find the tools to turn it around. In the RAZÃO DE VIVER combo you will have access to all the courses in the series and incredible bonuses created by Fernando Tepasse.

Luis Fernando Tepasse's goal is to help you look at yourself and reinvent yourself, acquiring emotional immunity, raising your self-esteem, understanding the secrets that surround relationships and uncovering your Ikigai life purpose.

Ikigai: The Five Steps to Finding Your Life Purpose and Being Happier - Ken Mogi

One of the most popular books on Ikigai written by Ken Mogi. The author is a Japanese neuroscientist, born in 1962, graduated from the University of Tokyo, lecturer and one of the best-selling authors in Tokyo.

Mogi has published several books on different subjects, from art to philosophy and history. Her Ikigai Book shows you five steps to achieving your life's purpose and being happier.

According to the author, Ikigai can make you live longer, have more health, be less stressed and, above all, help you to have a purpose and reason to live. In addition to Ken Mogi's book, we will recommend other books with the same concept.

Japanese Books About Ikigai

In addition to the classic book Ikigai by Ken Mori, we have another Brazilian version written by Héctor García. Another popular book is called The Power of Purpose – How to Live with More Meaning and Enhance Results through the Ikigai Method written by Kiko Kislansky and Eduardo Almeida, which can be downloaded for free on Kindle Unlimited.

Okinawa and Ikigai

The inhabitants of Okinawa, Japan, are the longest-lived in the world, reaching an average of 87 years of age. It is also the place with the highest number of people over 110 years of age. Will the Ikigai is behind it?

The Okinawan Japanese have their own habits like the Hara Hachibu, the habit of leaving the table without being fully satiated, with a full stomach 80%. It is believed that this practice has good results in the health of the Japanese.

They also have a habit of eating a lot of vegetables, both in quantity and variety. They drink a lot of sanpincha tea, which mixes green tea and jasmine, a lot of shikuwasa tangerine juice, and eat bitter foods like goya.

They also practice a lot of physical activity, nothing too intense, they just have a busy life. They participate in clubs called moais, practice meditation, and become quite resilient and carefree.

They only get such results because of the Ikigai that demands dedication and effort from every Japanese to keep life always busy with some activity and purpose. It is not just about acquiring a diet or physical training, but a lifestyle.

As you study Ikigai you will see that eating habits, familiar exercises and other activities are very closely related to Ikigai. Without these practices you simply will not be able to achieve your fulfilling life purpose that you are looking for.

Ikigai - purpose. Of life

Quick Questions and Answers about Ikigai

In addition to every article I've written, will I be able to briefly answer some constant questions about Ikigai? Let's now see the main questions and answers asked about this life purpose of the Japanese.

How to find your Ikigai? What is my ikigai?

How to find your Ikigai? For find your ikigai, you will need to look inside and reflect on what you love, what values you carry with you, what activity you do with so much pleasure that you don't even notice the time passing.

Ikigai is a Japanese word meaning "reason for being". In other words, Ikigai is what gets you out of bed every day. To find your ikigai, you must start with something simple, until you reach the big goals.

How to craft your ikigai?

To succeed in creating Ikigai, you need to follow a few points that will help you find your life purpose. To work out your reason for living, try not only to answer the questions below, but try to do what is asked:

  • Why do you want to find yours purpose?
  • Have you made a list of what you like to do?
  • Ever wondered what you're good at?
  • What's more important to you?
  • Do you make use of all your gifts?
  • Have you ever left your Comfort Zone?

Udemy Courses on Life Purpose

To finish the article, let's leave some Udemy courses that talk a little about life purpose or Ikigai:

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