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

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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 invest in depth the meaning and concept of the word Ikigai and its importance.

Ikigai is not just an art, it is a philosophy, a concept, a secret, a lifestyle, some apply it to work, culture, art, while others take it to the spiritual side. As it is a very complex subject, we will summarize it below:

The meaning of ikigai

The word iki-gai it is written with the ideograms [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 continue living for.

Although it looks like one simply Japanese word, its meaning is quite strong and should not be used lightly. There are numerous theories related to Ikigai that we will address throughout the article.

There are people who try to unravel the true meaning of life, transforming ikigai into an art that leads people to discover their purpose in life. 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 character [甲] comes from a shell or shell that was very valuable in the past. The character [斐] literally means beautiful, flowery or printed.

Some link this word with other concepts involving valuable things like 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 working in different parts of Japanese culture, such as punctuality, respect and peace.

Some claim that the Japanese longevity has a strong Ikigai concept relationship. We can reflect on how the Japanese culture and community works to understand that having a real goal in life results in the growth of Japan as a country and a pleasant 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 cannot find this purpose or do not live up to it.

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

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

Ikigai tradition, philosophy and concept

We know that Ikigai is a lifestyle with the goal 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 combination of 4 different themes that are Passion, Profession, Vocation and Mission. The goal is to find answers to questions such as:

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

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

Ikigai in Psychology and Coaching

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

In the West we can compare Ikigai’s understanding with psychology and coaching. For many it seems like something without explanation or logic, a waste of money or something without effect. I myself went to a psychological and psychoanalyst several times and even today I cannot understand the value and functioning of those sections even if I admit the results.

Ikigai - the meaning and purpose of life in Japanese

In reality Ikigai is strongly connected 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 life. I think that all coaches 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 have felt it myself several times, trying to reflect and find a way.

Can you understand Ikigai?

There are countless 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 some extent they are correct, but it also requires the 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 the fame and money that apparently can make dreams come true, end up empty and aimless, without achieving the true happiness that can be trapped and hidden within our interior.

Tips for reaching Ikigai

In doing some research, I 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 reach a goal in life or ikigai. I’ll 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 if this is what you really want to do every day. and don’t be fooled into thinking that there are no alternatives or solutions. Try to take at least the first step behind your dreams and never give up!

We should not compare with other people or wish for the same happiness that "supposedly" others have. We need to focus on ourselves and we don’t have to compete with other people, we must run at our own pace.

Just loving doing 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 skills instead of trying to develop impossible skills, but never stop trying!

Passion is strongly connected with profession. Some believe it is impossible to work with something we love, or think it will not be profitable. Imagine if I had listened to people around me and got a normal job instead of having this site 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 other 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 a personal thing that only you can understand. So dedicate yourself to exploring your mind.

Did you find your meaning and purpose in life?

In writing this article I realized that more than 100,000 Brazilians research Ikigai every month, probably looking for some goal in life or trying to make their dreams come true. I have no experience with Ikigai, nor did I even know about his existence, but I believe that his ideals really are important in everyone’s life.

We live in a world where most people don’t follow their own path, just follow the trends and live in a herd effect. They have no opinions of their own, they live stressed, hate and complain. and while 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 am easy to be influenced, I don’t let that influence my actions and thoughts. I have never stopped liking something because others hate it, nor have I ever liked something because everyone likes it. We must 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 reach my goals and still struggle to reach new goals that arise. The struggle is daily and you should not waste time with people who are negative or who do not 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 the true meaning in life, in addition to achieving your dreams and goals.

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

Ikigai to Fill

What do you think of filling out an Ikigai chart yourself? As we have seen before, it is easy, just follow the graphic below, which is in PNG in great quality for you to download, color and fill the way you want.

Remember to use all the ideas expressed in this article to correctly fill your Ikigai. If you have any questions or difficulties in discovering your purpose, we invite you to take a closer look at 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 an Ikigai chart if you can download an app for that? 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 is not just some applications where you fill an option in each circle, you can add several alternatives, organize schedules, calendars and tasks. Some apps can even tell you what Ikigai is.

Some even manage their money, routine and 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

Marcelo Pimenta's Ikigai Mentality Program

This program is transformative for those looking for 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 by Professor Marcelo Pimenta.

Marcelo Pimenta has already created trainings for ESPM, Sebrae, Caixa University and even Unesco. Its objective is a direct monthly live and group follow-up. If you are interested in knowing this program, just access the button below:

Reason for Living by Luis Fernando Tepasse

Do you know those days that seem to last a week? You come home exhausted, unable to react, immersed in sadness, anguish and fear. He goes on living in that automatic, not knowing where his energy went to achieve his dreams and goals.

Action is needed, but how? I will help you find the tools to get around. In the RAZÃO DE VIVER combo you will have access to all 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 unveiling 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, a lecturer and one of the best-selling authors in Tokyo.

Mogi has published several books on different subjects, from art to philosophy and history. His Ikigai Book shows five steps to achieve your life purpose and be happier.

According to the author, Ikigai can make you live longer, be healthier, be less stressed and mainly helps you to have an objective and reason for living. In addition to Ken Mogi's book, we will recommend other books with the same concept.

Japanese books on 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 Sense and enhance results through the Ikigai method written by Kiko Kislansky and Eduardo Almeida, which can be downloaded for free by 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 largest number of people over 110 years of age. Does the Ikigai is behind this?

The Japanese of Okinawa have their own habits like the Hara Hachibu, the custom of leaving the table without being fully satisfied, with 80% of a full stomach. This practice is believed to have good results in the health of the Japanese.

They also have a habit of eating many 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 they 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 have a very resilient and carefree mind.

They only achieve such results because of the Ikigai that requires dedication and effort from each Japanese to keep life always occupied with some activity and purpose. It is not just about getting a diet or physical training, but a lifestyle.

When studying Ikigai you will see that eating habits, well-known exercises and other activities are in close relationship with Ikigai. Without these practices you simply will not be able to achieve your satisfying life purpose that you are looking for.

Ikigai - purpose. Of life

Ikigai Quick Questions and Answers

In addition to every article I wrote, will I be able to briefly answer some constant questions about Ikigai? Now let's look at the main questions and answers asked about this Japanese life purpose.

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 such pleasure that you do not even notice the time passing.

Ikigai is a Japanese word that means “reason for being”. In other words, Ikigai is what makes you get out of bed every day. To find your ikigai, you must start with something simple, until you reach the big goals.

How to make your ikigai?

To succeed in creating the Ikigai, you need to follow some points that will help you find your life purpose. To elaborate 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 end the article, let's leave some Udemy courses that talk a little about the purpose of life or Ikigai:

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