Ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced [ikiɡai]) is a Japanese concept meaning "a reason for being", it is very similar to the French phrase Raison d'être. 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. Examples include work, hobbies and raising children.
The term ikigai compounds two Japanese words: iki (wikt:生き?) meaning "life; alive" and kai (甲斐) "(an) effect; (a) result; (a) fruit; (a) worth; (a) use; (a) benefit; (no, little) avail" (sequentially voiced as gai) "a reason for living [being alive]; a meaning for [to] life; what [something which] makes life worth living; a raison d'etre".
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 suggested 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 one's economic status or the present state of society. Even if a person feels that the present is dark, but they have a goal in mind, they may feel ikigai. Behaviours 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."
- Mathews, Gordon (1996). What Makes Life Worth Living?: How Japanese and Americans Make Sense of Their Worlds. University of California Press.
- Sone, Toshimasa; Nakaya, Naoki; Ohmori, Kaori; Shimazu, Taichi; Higashiguchi, Mizuka; Kakizaki, Masako; Kikuchi, Nobutaka; Kuriyama, Shinichi; Tsuji, Ichiro (2008). "Sense of Life Worth Living (Ikigai) and Mortality in Japan: Ohsaki Study" (PDF). Psychosomatic Medicine. 70 (6): 709–715. doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e31817e7e64. ISSN 0033-3174. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
- Watanabe Toshirō (渡邊敏郎), Edmund R. Skrzypczak, and Paul Snowden, eds. (2003), Kenkyūsha's New Japanese-English Dictionary (新和英大辞典), 5th edition, Kenkyusha, pp. 127, 459, 130. In the game go, iki especially means "alive" (able to remain on the board indefinitely): "in go normally a situation in which a connected group of stones of any size contains at least two independent liberties [me] and so cannot be captured by an opponent".
- Kobayashi, Tsukasa (1990-04-04). "Ikigai — jibun no kanosei, kaikasaseru katei". Nihon Keizai Shinbun. Tokyo.
- "Factors associated with 'Ikigai' among members of a public temporary employment agency for seniors (Silver Human Resources Centre) in Japan; gender differences", Health and Quality of Life Outcomes. 2006; 4:12 (retrieved Nov 2008).
- "Ikigai", More Explore (retrieved Nov 2008).
- "Ikigai and Mortality" Psychology Today. 17 Sep 2008 (retrieved Jan 2010).
- "Dan Buettner: How to live to be 100+" TED talk about longevity that explains the word in the Okinawan context. Jan 2010.
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