Book of the Month : Ikigai, The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

IKIGAI, by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles is the book of the month. The book is based on ancient, well practiced Japanese concept called — IKIGAI, a formula for happiness. It touches the various aspects of life which can help us achieve a purpose for being in this world.

How to find your Ikigai?
A lot of people relate Ikigai to finding a purpose in life but its not an end goal. Its a process of discovery. You may or may not be able to find your Ikigai today and that is okay, as the whole point is to get started.

Why should you find yours?
We all want to be happy but most of us have no idea what we really want to do with our lives. Should we focus on making money or give up all our material possessions? Should we pursue our passion or become a monk in the mountains?

There are 4 components to check off in order to achieve IKIGAI. (Refer the image below)

The people of Japan believe that everyone has an Ikigai
– a reason to jump out of bed each morning.

Now the interesting part about this Japanese formula is that you can tell where you are in life, and what you need to work on by looking at the components you have so far.

  • If you have something what you love and something what you are good at then you have whats called ‘Passion’.The main thing stopping you from being happy is the fact that you are not getting paid enough for your skills. Nobody seems to notice your talent. If you find yourself in this category then you need to start focusing on marketing yourself, so that you can start getting paid well.
  • If you have something what you love and what the world needs then you have whats called ‘Mission’. A lot of people who fall into this category are the people who want to see positive change in the world, but unfortunately they are not good good enough at public speaking or persuading or writing to actually to be able to convince people to join their cause. If you are in this category then you need to focus on getting better at your craft figuring out how to convince people instead of just stating your opinion loudly.
  • If you have something what you are good at and what you can be paid for then you have whats called ‘Profession’. You have what most people in the world have, that 9-5 job that pays the bills. What stopping you from happiness is the fact that you do not love your work or see how any of this can actually make a difference in the world. If you find yourself in this category then you need to try out new things and figure out what is it that you truly love doing.
  • If you have something what the world needs and what you can be paid for then you have whats called ‘Vocation’. A good example for this category are professors. They get paid decently well and their jobs does have a positive effect on the world right. They are raising the future generation. Unfortunately, they often fall into the bad habit of teaching the same things every single year which stalls their improvement. If you find yourself in this category, the main thing you need is to make sure you have is that you are constantly getting better at your job. Constantly challenging yourself to improve.

Now, that we are aware of the concept lets try finding our Ikigai!

The recommended time for this exercise is 30 minutes. When you are writing try not to spend too much time thinking. Just write down whatever that comes into your mind immediately.

Step 1 : Get a notebook and draw horizontal line across two pages. This will divide the pages into 4 sections. It will represent the four circles of Ikigai as shown in the picture above.
Step 2 : Starting from the top left section, write down the 4 components in a counter-clockwise manner.
Step 3 : Start filling the sections one by one. Try to take just around 3-5 mins to complete every section.

You can refer the below questions to help you think :

  • For What do you love ? : What have you never gotten bored of? Whats something you have always been drawn to do over time? What gets you in the flow- that you forget to eat/drink- when you do it? eg : (Reading good stories, writing, photography, playing guitar).
  • What are you good at? : What skills have you been spending time to practice? What do people look to you for help with? Is there anything you want to be good at? eg : writing essay/prose, making people feel comfortable and safe, being positive, graphic recording/note taking.
  • What can get you paid for? : What have you been paid for before? What would you be doing if you’re not in your current job? What do you want to get paid for? eg : writing- content,copy,book , Marketing.
  • What does the world needs? : This is the section that most people find the hardest to answer. Lets change it up a bit so that its not so overwhelming. Instead of ‘what the world need’, think about your world. Think of your immediate society and community, the reality you live in. How are the people like, what do they need? How can you contribute to create a positive effect on those around you?

Ready, lets start!

Final step : Finding your Ikigai :
Its really simple all you need to do is find one thing that is common in all the 4 sections. Congratulations, you have found your reason for being.

In case you are not able to find anything common, remember that’s expected. Since it isn’t always that simple, is it? Not all of us find our Ikigai immediately after doing this for the first time. Some might take days, others might take months and that’s all perfectly okay.

Remember, finding your Ikigai is a constant process, it means having a purpose in life that fulfills not just your desires but the world’s needs as well. So, take your time, ask yourself tough questions and answer them honestly. Always be open to try new things, because you never know how much you love something until you actually do it. And if its something you love, you’ll naturally want to do it repeatedly everyday.

Your purpose in life is not fixed forever. So feel free to do this exercise as many times as you want and keep exploring different possibilities.

We hope you’ll find your Ikigai, and we’d love to hear from you when you do.

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