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Ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced [ikiɡai]) is a Japanese concept meaning "a reason for being". Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is regarded as being very important, since it is believed that discovery of one's ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning to life.[1]

Finding the purpose of your life.
The Japanese call it IKIGAI and this is how you derive it.
— @emmyzen (Emmy van Deurzen)

The term "ikigai" is composed of two Japanese words: iki (生き?), referring to life, and kai (甲斐?), which roughly means "the realisation of what one expects and hopes for."

In the culture of Okinawa, ikigai is thought of as "a reason to get up in the morning"; that is, a reason to enjoy life. In a TED Talk, Dan Buettner referenced ikigai as one of the reasons people in the area had such long lives.

The word "ikigai" is usually used to indicate the source of value in one's life or the things that make one's life worthwhile. Secondly, the word is used to refer to mental and spiritual circumstances under which individuals feel that their lives are valuable. It's not necessarily linked to the economic status or today state of things. Even if a person feels that today's dark, but has a goal, he may feel ikigai. Behaviour that make us feel ikigai are not actions which we are forced to take—these are natural and spontaneous actions.

In the article named Ikigai — jibun no kanosei, kaikasaseru katei (Ikigai: the process of allowing the self's possibilities to blossom) Kobayashi Tsukasa says that "people can feel real ikigai only when, on the basis of personal maturity, the satisfaction of various desires, love and happiness, encounters with others, and a sense of the value of life, they proceed toward self-realization."[1][2]


  1. ^ a b Mathews, Gordon (1996). What Makes Life Worth Living?: How Japanese and Americans Make Sense of Their Worlds. University of California Press. 
  2. ^ Kobayashi, Tsukasa (1990-04-04). "Ikigai — jibun no kanosei, kaikasaseru katei". Nihon Keizai Shinbun (Tokyo). 

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