Ikigai — the Japanese lifestyle trend promising to find your life purpose
Is this the new 'hygge'?
From yoga retreats in the Himalayas and weekly mindfulness classes to downloading mediation apps such as Headspace and Calm, many of us spend our lives (and paycheques) on trying to achieve happiness and fulfillment. However, having tried out the Danish concept of finding contentment in cosiness with the pursuit of ‘hygge‘, and frugal living with the Swedish idea of ‘lagom‘, we seem to be struggling to find the true key to happiness. Until now, perhaps. Enter ‘ikigai’, a new lifestyle concept from Japan.
In Japanese culture, it’s widely believed that everyone has an ‘ikigai’ — a reason to jump out of bed each morning.
Instead of suggesting we slow down to find life’s meaning, the idea is about actively finding our raison d’être.
What it means
‘Ikigai’ is a Japanese word that can roughly be translated into English to mean ‘reason for being’. Basically, it’s all about finding out what makes you happy and keeps you motivated.
Hector Garcia, co-author of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, explains the word uses the characters ‘iki’, or ‘life’, and ‘kai’, meaning the result of a certain action.
In essence, it’s all about finding the answer to that question niggling at the back of your minds each day: What should I do with my life?
However, ‘ikigai’ isn’t just about about personal fulfillment.
Last year, Ken dos Remedios of the Hyper Japan cultural festival told the Independent: “Although it is not impossible to have ‘ikigai’ without social connections, it is easier to feel ‘ikigai’ by creating social connections, perhaps because of the ingrained social connections Japanese society promotes and Japanese individuals are conditioned to seek.”
In fact, the concept has its origins in the Japanese island of Okinawa which is said to be home to the largest population of centenarians in the world. As a result, it is thought ikigai may not only hold the key to happiness, but also longevity.
How does it work?
Ken Mogi, a neuroscientist and author of Awakening Your Ikigai, explains that finding your purpose in life using this lifestyle concept is about focusing on what he describes as ‘five pillars’: starting small, accepting yourself, connecting with the world around you (through other people and the environment), seeking out small joys, and being in the here and now.
He suggests focusing on the concept in the first couple of hours after you wake in order to properly start your day on the right foot.
Confused? Okay, bear with us.
In order to find your ikigai, people should ask themselves the following four questions:
1. What do I love?
2. What am I good at?
3. What can I be paid for now — or something that could transform into my future hustle?
4. What does the world need?