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Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to Long Life

Updated: Feb 4, 2022

The Japanese have been known to live incredibly long and satisfying lives, their work ethic is a model to the world, this is by no means luck. And what drives all of this? Ikigai. This Japanese word translates to “reason for being” and it is made up of four components that share a synergistic relationship. Keep reading to understand how you can find your Ikigai, how to implement it at work as an organization, and why Ikigai is an important factor in finding one’s own happiness.

Components of Ikigai

The components of Ikigai are passion, vocation, profession, and mission. What do these mean and how do they overlap with each other? Passion is being able to work tirelessly on anything that you love, vocation is being good at something, whether it is inherited as a talent or learnt. Profession is being able to get paid for what you do and lastly, mission describes what the world demands and needs. The union of these four parts are what make up Ikigai.

State of Ikigai

Firstly, lets understand what happens when you achieve or find your Ikigai. A person in the state of Ikigai will be doing his work with a passion, time flies by and they are in a state of a completely blissful flow. It becomes easy to start work, there is no dread, only an intrinsic desire to achieve and do more.

Finding our Ikigai

So how do we find our Ikigai? Well, it starts with our passion. Think of the time when you were a young child, what did you enjoy doing the most? What was the activity that you woke up eagerly for and started doing only for it to end so suddenly? Finding yourself is also a critical step in finding your Ikigai. Knowing yourself involves many characteristics including recognizing whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, your strengths and your weaknesses, and so much more.

Ikigai in Organizations

Ikigai can not only be applied to individuals, but also on an organizational level. When an organization encourages a healthy environment in their culture that cultivates Ikigai it reflects upon each employee. Creating a mission statement that allows an organization to align itself with a purpose is the most crucial step in nurturing Ikigai through organizational culture. In the development of the mission statement, one must consider the overlap of what the organization is good at, what the world needs, and what the organization can be paid for.

Happiness and Ikigai

Lastly, why is Ikigai an important part of finding one’s happiness? Purpose gives:

- Clarity in life

- Direction of where you want to be

- Imparts certainty in an uncertain world.

All these aspects of life stemming from having purpose ultimately bring peace of mind to oneself. When one has a confident calmness instilled into their thinking, nothing seems too good to happen. Boundaries are broken, limits are erased, and any obstacle can be overcome.

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