Did you know that the Japanese life expectancy is one the highest in the world, if not the highest with 74.8 years old? Their food intake has a lot to do with it. The Japanese people consume less meat, dairy products and sugar. The Japanese diet consists mostly of fish, seafood, soybean and green tea. While diet plays a huge role in their life expectancy, the Japanese people believe that it has a lot to do with Ikigai, finding your life’s purpose.
What is Ikigai?
The concept originated in Okinawa, Japan, the place where people have the longest life expectancy in the world. If you would like to meet a lot of people who are centenarians, go to Naha or in Ogimi in Okinawa. So, what’s their secret? Ikigai.
Ikigai is an ancient philosophy that the Japanese people embraced in their lives. So, what does it mean? In Japan “iki” means life while “gai” means value or worth. In short, ikigai is your life purpose. It is what gives you happiness and contentment in life. It is your reason for being. Ikigai is what makes you wake up in the morning excited about life. For them, retirement does not exist if you find your lifelong purpose. Even at an old age, they still feel a sense of purpose. Thus, if you can find your Ikigai, you will have bliss in your life.
Finding Your Ikigai
Each one of us is born for a reason. We are not here simply to make a living. We are born to fulfill our life’s purpose. That’s part of our spiritual wellness. However, finding our life’s purpose is easier said than done. Not everyone is able to unleash the genius within them. Thus, more and more people live a stressful life and do not find peace and true happiness in their existence.
There are four questions to ask yourself in order to find your Ikigai or life purpose.
1.What Are You Good At?
There are multiple intelligences. Just because you have bad grades in your academics does not necessarily mean that you are no longer smart. The key is to find the things that you are good at. Know and recognize your strengths. Ask yourself, what are you good at? Are you one of the best in that field? Do people ask you for advice regarding that?
2. What Do You Love Doing?
What is one thing that you love doing? Do you have a hobby or skill that you can’t get enough of? You love it so much that you are willing to do it even without getting paid. Also, when you are doing it, you seem to be in the flow so you can easily forget the time. Think about what brings you joy? If you are still unsure, think about your childhood. What did you enjoy the most when you were a child?
3. What Does The World Need?
If you are currently working, find out if there is high demand for what you are doing now. How about in the next 5, 10 or 15 years from now? Do you think it will still be valuable? What can you do that can contribute to and help solve a social, economic, physical, mental or environmental problem in the world? If you are not working yet, ask the same questions about your craft, hobby or skill. In short, how can you contribute to society?
4. What Can You Be Paid For?
Thinking about how you can contribute to society using your innate talent is good and noble. However, let’s face it. Unless you are born with a silver spoon, we all need money to survive and pay for our basic needs. Thus, doing something that you are going to get paid for is something that should be considered. Ask yourself, are there people getting paid doing what you are doing? Can you make a career out of your hobby or craft? Is it something that you can make a good living of?
Your ikigai lies in the intersection of all four areas: your mission, vocation, profession and passion.
Good luck in finding your ikigai!