What does it take to be truly happy and feel content with one’s life? The answer to this is the Japanese secret Ikigai for Long Happy Life. A Japanese philosophy that helps to find out our “reason to live”.
We all desire to have a perfect balance in life. A Life that will keep our heart and mind fulfilled. Thus, we are trying our best to achieve happiness by watching funny videos, attending self-help gurus seminars, buying goods/gifts we don’t need, focusing only on making wealth, etc.
The principle of Ikigai is not centered around only money. It doesn’t say that money is the source of all happiness; and neither that it’s the root of all evil. It’s about that subtle sweet smile on your face when you wake up in the morning feeling motivated and alive.
Being fully aware that what we are about to do today or on a Daily Basis is worth doing is what gives a meaningful life.
Ikigai for Long Happy Life is not a quick fix to all the unhappiness of life. It’s the ever-going process of self-realization. It’s an art of having deep reflection into our needs and wants in life and being selective in choosing what’s right and worth doing.
The Simple secret for a happy long life is to make small changes in our lives by adding value to what we do.
How come a single Japanese technique is a key to live a fruitful life?
Is it really possible?
And if so, how can we all find satisfaction in life and make life meaning?
So many unanswered questions keep me inspired me to do extensive research on this topic for weeks and this blog is the result of my research. Let’s find out what is Ikigai and what are its simple secrets and if so, What is the single most important factor we need to consider to have a long happy life.
Note: In the Japanese language, Ikigai (pronounced as ‘ee-kee-gah-ee’) is written as “生き甲斐”.
I came to know about this concept in one of the books written by Héctor García (Author) and Francesc Miralles (Author). I have recommended the name of the book below.
For the book, the authors traveled to Okinawa(Japan), which boasts some of the world’s longest lifespans. There they interviewed citizens to know about their keys to happiness. They then compiled their findings into a list of “rules” that can help anyone find their Ikigai. They highlighted the important aspect of having a balanced life.
Before we understand Ikigai, let’s understand
What is a fruitful life?
I believe that if we can understand the purpose of our life’s existence and do the works that enrich our energy and fills our emotional tank, then that can be called a “fruitful life.“
In short, the journey to find the answer to the fundamental question: “What should I do with my life?” is the supreme focus of fruitful life.
People without purpose are living zombies. There is no emotion or thrill of living. They are alive but not fulfilled.
They keep doing the same mundane boring daily chores of work without putting efforts to make it worthwhile.
They are always complaining about their life, their luck, their boss, their neighbors, and virtually about everything under and above the sun.
Where can I apply Ikigai?
Ikigai is a life philosophy, something which can be applied to every aspect of life and areas. Starting with work to a hobby or for our retirement plans. It’s a journey of evolution, self-realization, and most important a journey of overall well-being.
Do understand that Ikigai doesn’t mean you need to be happy all the time.
It’s a change in mindset that helps us to navigate through difficult times. These can be applied to both everyday small things or our greatest plans.
How old is Ikigai Philosophy?
Ikigai can be traced back to the Heian period running from 794 to 1185. “The period is named after the capital city of Heian-kyō of modern Kyoto. It is the period in Japanese history when Buddhism, Taoism, and other Chinese influences were at their height.
What are the basic requirements for applying Ikigai for Long Happy Life?
To be honest with self” is the fundamental requirement of Ikigai. Apart from that, all we need is pen and paper to figure out the balance between what you love, what you are good at, what you can be paid for, and what the world needs from you.
It’s the realization of one’s self. A journey to know why we are born in this world.
Finding Ikigai for Long Happy Life is a proactive activity. And just like any other activity, it enables us to get completely immersed at the moment and create the flow of creativity and happiness.
This happiness comes from our simple awareness of being present and alive.
The Japanese verb “iki” means “live” and “gai” literally translates to “reason”. Ikigai deals with 4 different areas of one’s life by making ourselves ask these questions. The true Ikigai is achieved when there is a common answer to the below questions.
- What do you love to do?
- What are you good at doing?
- What skills can you be paid for?
- What does the world need from you?
The above 4 questions centered around 4 Important key areas of anyone’s life: Passion, Mission, Profession, and Vocation. It’s the mixture of these keywords that arises the above questions.
- Passion + Mission = What do you love to do?
- Passion + Profession = What are you good at doing?
- Profession + Vocation = What skills can you be paid for?
- Mission + Vocation = What does the world need from you?
Let’s understand these 2 examples:
If we only focus on what we love to do and what the world needs from us, then we are covering only 3 key areas: Passion+Mission+Vocation. But we are missing the Profession. Something we do to get paid for. So, this will leave us without any wealth. So, we cannot be truly happy and content.
Again, If we focus on the 3 questions: What we are paid for; at which we are good at and also something which the world needs then we neglect one key area: “What we love to do”. This alone can be the reason for our unhappiness.
Let’s clarify one thing. Something which we are good at doesn’t mean we love it to do.
We become good by practicing and learning the procedure. We join colleges or attend seminars/workshops to learn those skills.
Mastering Ikigai is not an easy skill; it required commitments and unbiased judgment over the decisions we take. The fruit of this commitment is the overall well-being and a positive aura surrounding us.
How to find out our Ikigai?
The secret to one’s life purpose is always hiding in plain sight. Thus, we need to sit quietly and ask ourselves to understand what our heart and mind wants. Start with any of the 4 basic questions mentioned above regarding any area you want to be happy at whether it’s work, hobby, relationship, or retirement.
Be brutally honest about the answer. That should be your starting point.
Note: Start with one area at a time or else you will become overwhelmed and get stressed. You can use the Pomodoro Technique if you want you. I have explained it in details: https://themindpedia.com/pomodoro-technique-guide-for-productivity/
From there keep asking specific questions regarding everything you love to do, you are good at doing, you get paid to do and you feel the world needs from you. Have a list of all those answers.
Once you have the answers ready, try to find the answer that common to all the 4 basic questions. That answer is your Ikigai for that area.
Something which you should do more often than other things to be happy and content with your life. Once you finish analyzing one area, move on to the next a keep doing it till you feel all areas of your life have been sorted out.
Remember, only you can do it for yourself because only you know yourself the best. Others cannot help you with finding your happiness.
Do keep in mind that Ikigai cannot be achieved in one day and also that it’s not fixed. It’s not something which you sit one night and stress yourself to find the answer to. It’s a journey of evolving from being passive to being proactive.
For overall well-being, we must focus on multiple key areas of our life and make Ikigai an essential part of our life.
How to understand we found our Ikigai?
If you lose track of time while doing your work, then you have found your Ikigai. If you are happy and don’t curse your situation and luck, then you have found your Ikigai. If you wake up every morning being excited and feeling blessed for the day, then you have found your Ikigai. If you find enjoyment and purpose in the work you are doing without expecting external applause and motivation, then you have found your Ikigai.
Ikigai values the activities which we are doing for ourselves. The only opinion and applause it cares about are of our self. This attitude helps to discover and respect our uniqueness.
We must add the self-realization of Ikigai in our Daily Routine. Always try to enjoy the small things in life like a morning breeze or a child trying to walk.
My Top 3 Favorite recommended books on Ikigai are available on Amazon at a hugely discounted price at the time of posting the article. If you feel you need to know more about Japanese Secret Ikigai for Long Happy Life do check them at Amazon. Books are in my order of preference. If you know something more about Ikigai or want to share your experience, do comment below.
- Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life by Héctor García (Author), Francesc Miralles (Author): https://amzn.to/2UA9ZiM
- Ikigai Flexibound by Mitsuhashi Yukari (Author): https://amzn.to/30y469r
- The Little Book of Ikigai: The secret Japanese way to live a happy and long life by Ken Mogi (Author): https://amzn.to/2BTEXM5
External Study Resources on Ikigai: Theorizing the interpersonal aspect of ikigai (‘life worth living’) among Japanese university students: A mixed-methods approach:https://internationaljournalofwellbeing.org/index.php/ijow/article/view/979
Japanese Secret Ikigai for Long Happy Life is a change in mindset and lifestyle where we focus on the enjoyment of the activities we are doing. Along with enjoyment, it’s the continuous development of our skill and finding the unison between our mind and heart.
It teaches us the value of being alive, the ability to appreciate now and focus solely on the moment and enjoy each moment at its best.
Ikigai is not only about happiness; it’s a way of life that teaches us to attain fulfillment. It helps us define our purpose of existence by clearly defining mission and goals in life and attain them happily at our full potential.
It teaches us to become a contributor to the world by doing things we are good at and thus attain satisfaction from the good deed.
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How to achieve Ikigai?
When we opt for a balanced life, we can achieve Ikigai. It should be the summation of Profession, Passion, Mission & Vocation.
How long it takes to achieve Ikigai?
Ikigai is not a quick fix, it’s an ongoing process of self-realization and continuous improvements in our daily lifestyle.