Ikigai, the Japanese secret that can hold the key to happiness in life and at work

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In Okinawan culture, ikigai is understood as a method to have a reason for being, to enjoy life, to feel fuller and to embody the idea of ​​the happiness of living. It is associated with a Venn diagram with four qualities that overlap

  • What do you love
  • What do you know how to do well
  • What others would pay for
  • What you offer to the world

The term ikigai is made up of two Japanese words: (iki 生 き) which refers to life; and (gai 甲 斐) that describes value or merit.

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Essentially, it is the raison d’être

The word ikigai is generally used to indicate the source of one’s life value, or the things that make life worthwhile. Second, the word is used to refer to the mental and spiritual circumstances in which people feel that their lives are valuable. It is not necessarily linked to the personal economic situation, or the current state of society. Even if a person feels that the present is gloomy, but has a goal in mind, he can feel the ikigai. The behaviors that make us feel ikigai are not actions that we are forced to carry out, but natural and spontaneous actions.

How can you define your own Ikigai?

To find your Ikigai, you will have to give yourself the pleasure of doing what you love, think about that activity that you would be willing to do with such pleasure that you do not even notice time passing and you would do it with passion every day of your life.

First, take a piece of paper and draw four equal circles. Within one of the circles you will define everything you love, in another you will write everything that you are really good at, in the third you have to reflect what you know how to do and think you would be paid for it, and finally, in the fourth circle you will have to specify what you think you can contribute to the world to make it better.

It is important that you fill in the points by putting in each of them as much information as you can, if you have few ideas visualize your current life and what you could learn in a period of time, if you are really good you should know that it must be something that you are passionate, realistic activities guys, we also need to be aware of our abilities, remember what you are passionate about doing and think how you could be rewarded, we tend to be quite critical of ourselves and we tend to underestimate our skills, if you are feeling that way you I recommend that you ask for advice from people you trust who will provide a more objective point of view on all your qualities, success with what you find difficult to see, I am sure you will know.

At the end of this step, your diagram will look like this:

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When it is reached or during the journey to reach it, ikigai helps us overcome stressful circumstances, thereby rethinking our lives and finding in it the meaning of our reason for being, which gives us motivation and daily happiness.

¡Genial! ¿verdad? Ahora vamos dar el siguiente paso en la creación de tu Ikigai. Para ello deberás fijarte cuando unimos estos círculos descubrimos uno de los cuatro pilares en los que se sustenta nuestro Ikigai:

  • In the place where the red circle and the yellow circle meet, that is, where what you love meets what you are good at, you will find your passion.
  • Where the yellow circle meets the green one, it unifies, on the one hand, what you are good at and on the other, what others would be willing to pay for. That is where you can find your profession.
  • You can discover your vocation in the place where what others would pay you for with what you think you could contribute to the world. It is the junction point between the green and blue circles.
  • And finally, when you join what you really like to do, that is, the red circle with what you can do for others, the blue circle, is where you can find your mission in life.

The Japanese key to being happy, diverse values

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Ikigai es lo que te permite desear que llegue el futuro, incluso si te sientes mal en el presente.

There are many books that treat the subject, Ikigai-ni-tsuite (“On the Ikigai”), published in 1966, is considered like the bible on the subject.

Its author, Mieko Kamiya, explains that as a word ikigai it is similar to “happiness”, but it has a subtle difference in nuances, it is about what allows us to look to the future, even in the face of a miserable present.

However, the ‘ikigai’ in Japan has nothing to do directly with either work or pay. In fact, in a survey carried out in 2010, only 31% of Japanese people understood their occupation as a synonym for ‘ikigai’.

Knowing it is not enough. The term does not designate passive behavior, but purpose in action

In addition, almost 25% of Japanese employees work more than 80 overtime hours a month, and that brings tragic consequences in the form of death like karoshi, which means leaving this world due to overwork.

“It’s not about the principle you live for. It’s not the reason you wake up every morning. It is something much smaller, placed in front of you and also in a very direct way ”.

Gordon Matthew
  • Start by analyzing what you have in front of you.
  • Always remember why that special something is so important.
  • Reflect on why you do what you do. Maybe you hate your boss and your job, but when you get home you have a wonderful family that explains all that effort and sacrifice, but remember that your happiness matters.
  • Take your time to decide. It is important to find a partner, a job or friends that connect with you. It is not an easy task and it is not achieved in a few days either.
  • The ‘ikigai’ is malleable, it may be that you love your partner madly, but it may also happen that for a thousand reasons he will not be there tomorrow. Everyone can be affected by misfortune and you are no more special than anyone.
  • Check your ‘ikigai’ from time to time. What is essential for you in your 20s may not be so in your 40s.

Japan’s Secrets to a Long and Happy Life?

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Elderly shop assistant at Makeshi Market in Okinawa. (iStock)

Japón es uno de los países con mayor expectativa de vida en el mundo. Según cifras oficiales del país, 87 años para las mujeres y 81 para los hombres.

Author of “The secret of the blue zones: eat and live like the healthiest people on the planet”, Dan Buettner, believes that the concept of ikigai contributes to that longevity.

The retired elderly in this area of ​​Japan understand that their reason for existing goes far beyond their past work as active workers: “Older people are highly valued and they feel compelled to pass on their wisdom to younger generations.” Okinawa has the largest number of centenarians on the planet in proportion to its total population: “They live on average seven years longer than an American.”

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We all have something that makes us special, look for the point where all the pillars meet. Find it and from there you will surely enjoy an existence of full happiness and satisfaction.

7 Principles of Ikigai

  1. Stay positive, never give up: Whoever abandons the things they love and know how to do, loses the meaning of their life. The centennial inhabitants of the Okinawa village continued to carry out activities more typical of other ages according to Western culture.
  2. Calm: Walking slowly goes far. There is no rush, you only have this life, enjoy every moment.
  3. Smile: A personable attitude makes friends and relaxes the person. The smile opens doors and connects us with our positive side. Do not forget the privilege of being here and now in this universe full of possibilities.
  4. Give thanks: Take a moment of the day to give thanks and you will increase your flow of happiness. Show gratitude with those around you, with nature, with life. You will feel happy to be alive.
  5. Live in the moment Let’s stop looking at our past and being afraid of the future. All you have is today. We have to turn off the autopilot. Perhaps practicing meditation will help you focus on the here and now.
  6. Surround yourself with people who add you: They are the best antidote to dissolve worries. Friendship relationships are a great elixir to be able to fulfill our ikigai. Meet people, it is important that we know that within each one of us there is a passion, a unique talent that gives meaning to our days and if you have not found it yet, your next goal could be to find it.
  7. Follow your ikigai It is important that we know that within each one of us there is a passion, a unique talent that gives meaning to our days and if you have not found it yet, your next goal could be to find it.

Some books about the Ikigai

  • ‘Ikigai-ni-tsuite’ (about ‘ikigai’), by Mieko Kamiya. Published in 1966.
  • Ikigai: Japan’s secrets for a long and happy life. Héctor García and Francesc Miralles
  • The Ikigai method. Héctor García and Francesc Miralles
  • Find your ikigai. Lemke Bettina.

From my point of view I wanted to talk about this term because it has helped me, I know what it feels like to be without knowing what you want in your life, I have felt like this for some good seasons of my life and I think this is a formula to help us get to know each other, Of course, there are more ways, I am just providing one more idea, I think it helps to see the goals with a starting point and feel that you are taking a step forward, it is part of life to accept changes and in the same way know the malleable nature of ikigai, learn to connect spaces that we did not see.

I will give you a template as a gift so you can download and practice your ikiɡai

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