Ikigai – Finding Purpose in Life

Written by Mona Hadi Naeem
5 · 27 · 21

Life as we know it has numerous facets or dimensions. Life always has a deep purpose to it. Sadly, not everyone knows his or her life’s purpose, which is why they do not have a satisfied and happy life. They make choices and have beliefs that do not offer them closure or a purpose in life. This is where the Japanese way of life – Ikigai comes to play.

Let me ask you a quick question. Have you ever wondered or thought about the purpose of your life? Why do you wake up every morning? There must be a bigger purpose in life that drives you.

For clarity, let me explain the meaning of this Japanese practice and explain how you can live a better life with it.

What is Ikigai?


Pronounced “EE-key-guy” it is a Japanese word, it means “iki” which means life and kai means shell. The concept dates back to the 790s. Roughly speaking, Ikigai means the value of your life.

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There is more to Ikigai than just finding purpose. According to some groups who have been practicing this for generations, it can increase the life expectancy in people.

On the island named Okinawa, many people devote their lives to Ikigai. It is famous by the name “Land of the Immortals.” This name comes because this land has the highest number of centenarians (people who are at least 100 years old) living here.

How to Find Your Ikigai

If you can find the truthful answer to the following questions, then you can find your Ikigai:

1 – What do you love doing?

2 – What do you do best?

3 – What does the world need?

4 – What can you do to get paid?

Most people in our modern world satisfy two out of these questions. If you can find the answer to all four and live by them, you can find your purpose in life and live a fulfilled life. Perhaps even live to be 100 years old.

Below is a diagrammatic representation of the core of this way of life.

Yes, finding your purpose in life is not going to be easy. However – if you do, it is the key to a meaningful and happy life. Doing something that you love and look forward to, can give your life purpose.

Characteristics of Ikigai

For different people, Ikigai means different things. For some, it helps them find a career path. Some people apply it to their daily lives and enjoy every moment of it, dispelling depression and anxiety.

Here are things this amazing practice can lead to:

Healthy Body

People in Okinawa also practice “Hara Hachi Bu,” which means you stop eating when you are 80% full. They have a diversified diet with all kinds of spices and foods. They eat 15 different types of foods. They also live an active life with fun games and other everyday exercises. They eat on time and balance their diet.

Healthy Mind

Implementing Ikigai daily right from the moment you wake up, maintains your emotional and mental health. You leave the bed thinking about things you love to do. It may be your favorite coffee, walking the dog, spending time watching the sunrise, etc. This Japanese tradition makes life worth living. It reminds you of ichi-go ichi-e, which means that every moment in life happens only once. It does not come back, so make the most of it. Likewise, this way of life implements wabi-sabi, which means making the most out of life even though it is imperfect.

Healthy Relations

Ikigai teaches one to celebrate life with others. It encourages maintaining healthy and happy relationships with everyone around us. Tell friends and family that you are grateful for having them in your life. When you have a clash with them, assume they have the best intentions, and remind yourself of the good moments together. Move on from the issues rather than pondering over them. Take pride in your interpersonal relationships.

Check out the infographics below. It depicts Ikigai in a simplistic and beautiful way.

Ikigai Explained - The Ideal Way of Life Infographic

Share this article with those who can benefit from it! If you liked this, you may also like to read Celebrities That Teach Us Lessons about Financial Literacy.

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Mona Hadi Naeem