What Is Ikigai?

Life’s purpose or ultimate goal seems to revolve around one thing: Happiness

But what is happiness? Life surely cannot gravitate around one single factor. Could it? Or could happiness be the foundation that ramifies into all parts of life? Perhaps, we can look to the land of the rising sun for some wisdom and a concept called Ikigai.

What is Ikigai?

In Japanese culture, the concept of Ikigai (pronounced “icky-guy”) has been around for thousands of years. It refers to one’s reason for being. In layman terms, what your calling is. While you might not think you have one, you do. Every single being has an Ikigai. The problem is to discover it, connect with it, and embrace it.

When you do, waking up every day will take a whole new meaning for you.

This is exactly the reason The Higher Path Project exists or other amazing people and organizations that are trying to bring this concept into modern times. There is an awakening happening right now, some might call it a spiritual awakening that occurs naturally in beings like us. A transition to a higher state of mind and being.

Whatever it is or however you want to call it, Ikigai is at the center of it.


So What Truly Is Happiness?

How do we even define something like happiness? Associating definitions to something so deep is often abysmal and simply wrong. Not even a picture that speaks a thousand words would be able to portray happiness. Either attempt would only confine its true power and depth.

But we know one thing for certain, at least: Happiness CANNOT depend on something that can be lost. Therefore, is happiness an emotion, a mindset? Or perhaps a bit of both. We can then at least somewhat understand that happiness exists within us at the individual level. Just the same way Ikigai is unique to every single person. Perhaps defining happiness is inconsequential as it pertains to the unique and amazing universe within you. Happiness to you can be completely different from the person next to you.

We can also, therefore, say that to achieve happiness we do not need to chase it externally. We have been living the myth of happiness as the culmination of achieving or possessing things. And that furthermore, it is that myth and lie that keeps us from consistently staying in the happiness mindset. But if it is partially an emotion, we need to understand that just like any other emotion, it is non-linear.

Perhaps the proper way to close this section is to ask you to take a moment and think what happiness means for you. Feel free to share your answer in the comments section below. We would be honored to learn about you.


Origins of Ikigai

Ikigai which is age-old Japanese ideology can be traced back to the Heian period (794 to 1185). Interestingly, it has been strongly linked to Japan’s long life expectancy. The work Ikigai is a combination of the Japanese words ‘iki’ (生き), which translates to ‘life’ and ‘gai’ (甲斐), which is used to describe value or worth.

In 2001, Clinical Psychologist, Akihiro Hasegawa published a research paper focusing on regional differences in Ikigai in elderly people. According to Mr. Hasegawa, the evolution of the word Iki(gai) can be traced to the use of the word ‘kai’ which means shell in Japanese.  During the Heian period, shells were extremely treasured, therefore the association of value is still inherently seen in the word ‘gai’. Which can still be seen in similar Japanese words such as yarigai (やりがい), which translated to “it’s worth doing it.”


Why Is It Important?

Another important question besides what is Ikigai? Is why is it important after all? The reason why Ikigai is important is that it consolidates many aspects of the mindset of happiness. Discovering and embracing Ikigai can be an everlasting impact on your life. It brings a consistent happiness state of mind that can ultimately make a difference in not only your wellness but in the world.

More importantly, Ikigai is at the very center of your existence and who you are. Ikigai effectively is very much the same as finding your essence. Not knowing your Ikigai is walking aimlessly and not living your true calling. You are not only not living a life full of true joy, purpose, and meaning but your existence is not significantly making an impact on the world.

Sadly, the imprint of your life’s importance is being lost with the sunsets and sunrises of time itself.


Discovering Your Ikigai?

There are a few aspects or components that surround Ikigai. And it is only when you take a deep dive into your inner world and figure that which:

Makes you feel bliss and causes you to be present: This is something that you truly love. We all share that feeling of something that makes you lose track of time and you are truly present.

You are inherently and naturally good at: We all have talents. Whether you have discovered what those are or not, we all do. These are things that simply flow from us without much effort. And that with practice you become a master.

The world needs: Probably the hardest and trickiest part as aligning this with the other three external components of Ikigai is complex. Please note that it is certainly not impossible. The question you must ask yourself is: What do you strongly feel the world needs that YOU can offer? Ultimately, this leads to the last component below.

You can make a living of: Unfortunately, money does play a significant factor in society. Consolidating the first three components above should ideally lead to this component.

You will have then, and ONLY then found your Ikigai.


Embracing Your Ikigai

Life is a journey. But above most of all, life is precious and a gift. In the seemly chaos of the universe and fortunate chain of events that led to life, there is a purpose. All we have is the now and the knowledge we are given. What you decide to do with the gift of life and the now is completely up to you. You define your future and it all starts with a journey into one’s inner world.

Let us know what you think of this article in the comments section below.



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