Understanding Ikigai – The Japanese Concept Of Happiness

There’s no denying that the one thing everyone wants in life is to be genuinely happy.

Up until now, however, no one has ever really suggested a formula that equates to happiness – until Ikigai came along.

Ikigai is a Japanese philosophy that roughly means “a reason for being”, or “the thing that gets you out of bed each morning”.

The Japanese word ‘iki’ means ‘life’ and ‘gai’ means ‘value’, and so the concept focuses around how finding a purpose in life ultimately equals finding happiness.

Instead on focusing on having a prestigious job or thousands of pounds in the bank, Ikigai is all about finding your true purpose in life.

Finding your Ikigai

In order to find your Ikigai, think of it as what you find at the intersection of the four things listed below, often demonstrated with a Venn diagram where the four things overlap:

  • What you love
  • What you are good at
  • What the world needs
  • What you can be paid for

Go with the flow

Another, perhaps somewhat simpler way of finding your Ikigai is by recognising those moments throughout your day when you enter a state of ‘flow’.

This is when you become so incredibly absorbed in a task that you lose all track of time, often forgetting to eat and drink.

Within these moments you will find your Ikigai.

This, in turn, will lead you to focusing more of your time on the things that have real meaning to you.

Stay humble

A key to note with Ikigai is that is does not necessarily mean finding purpose on a huge scale: you do not need to change the world or create a huge impact on those around you.

Ikigai can simply be finding purpose in the simple, mundane and humble things in day-to-day life.

Follow the rules of Ikigai

As well as looking for purpose, Ikigai also encourages a long, healthy and happy life by following these 10 simple rules:

  1. Stay active and don’t retire
  2. Adopt a slower pace of life
  3. Only eat until you are 80 per cent full
  4. Surround yourself with good friends
  5. Partake in daily, gentle exercise
  6. Smile and acknowledge people around you
  7. Reconnect with nature
  8. Give thanks
  9. Live in the moment
  10. Find and follow your Ikigai

author: Stephen Coleclough

Stephen Coleclough is a leading international and domestic tax consultant who specialises in solving complex problems. As well as advising on tax matters, Stephen also enjoys exploring topics relating to physical and mental wellbeing. You can follow him on Twitter at SColeclough.


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