Ikigai (pronounced Ick-ee-guy) is a concept originating from the Japanese island of Okinawa, home to the largest population of centenarians in the world. So, could finding our ikigai – our reason for being – lead to happiness and longevity in life? Arlo Laibowitz explores this interesting idea...


Why do we get up in the morning?, What is the meaning of life? Why don’t we commit suicide? These are all questions that we think about or need to answer at some point in our lives, either professionally or personally.

The Japanese concept of Ikigai answers these questions, by finding our reason for being. So, what exactly is Ikigai, and how can we use its lessons to find meaning and happiness in our lives?

Ikigai, according to one definition, is our “raison d’être”, or the happiness of always being busy, both in our professional life and everyday life. It's the passion and talent we have that gives meaning to our days and drives us to share the best of ourselves with the world.

Ikigai helps you find your reason for being, and therefore, passion and meaning 


When we look for our professional ikigai, we can ask ourselves four questions:

  1. What do we love?
  2. What are we good at?
  3. What does the world need?
  4. What can you be paid for?


Ikigai is found at the intersection of these four questions, where passion, mission, vocation, and profession meet.


To determine our ikigai, we can try to:

  • Find a purpose we strongly believe in.
  • Stop thinking and start doing.
  • Speak to people who have similar passions.
  • And, accept that setbacks are normal.

What is.. Ikigai? - happiness.org

Ikagi at work: Knowing what you love and what you're good at can help you make better career options


The characteristic of everyday ikigai are:

  • Finding flow in everything we do, and remaining active.
  • Taking it slow, and not worrying.
  • Cultivating good habits, including good nutrition.
  • Nurturing good friendships.
  • Living an unhurried life, and exercising daily.
  • Being optimistic and smiling a lot.
  • Reconnecting with nature.
  • Giving thanks, and having resilience.
  • Cherishing "wabi-sabi", or the imperfection of life.
  • And, living by "ichi-go, ichi-e": the knowledge that this moment exists only now, and won’t come again.


Ikigai is an attitude towards life, a way of finding our optimal activities in life, and a set of characteristics that can create meaning and happiness in life.


By finding our professional ikigai, and living according to its characteristics in our day-to-day, we can lead meaningful and fulfilling lives. On the Japanese island of Okinawa, people live among the longest in the world. Their secret: following their ikigai, and thereby constantly maintaining their happiness. 


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Purpose of Life | Motivation | Work Life Balance



Written by Arlo Laibowitz

arlo.jpgArlo is a filmmaker, artist, lecturer, and intermittent practitioner of metta meditation and morning yoga. When not dreaming about impossible projects and making them happen in the most impractical ways possible, he journals, listens to jazz, or cuddles with his better half.




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Like most of the previous commentators here, I was previously unfamiliar with the term of Ikigai, but I find evidence in my life that I have the concept within me. And I agree with some of you who say that it is perfectly human to live multiple Ikigais.

I don't know why I immediately thought of "self-optimization" when I first dealt with the topic of Ikigai. A term that has a rather negative connotation for me. Probably because a cliché about "the Japanese mentality" was floating around in my head. But on further reflection, this thought has disappeared, because for me the concept of Ikigai is about happiness in life and about searching for and finding my personal sources of happiness.
Because we all strive for happiness, don't we?

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Many people already live their ikigai by doing what they love, spending time with friends and family, being mindful, eating well, going outdoors, etc. It's a simple, beautiful concept :)


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I haven’t heard about the Ikigai before, but loved this article. Taking it slow and not worrying is a good advice in these times, as well as reconnecting with nature and smiling a lot. This article about Ikigai already helped me starting the day with an optimistic smile ;)

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I just love how the people in the animation say "Mogwai", "Samurai", "Bonsai", "Icky Guy". It's hilarious and it totally helped me to remeber the word Ikigai.

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I had heard of this Japanese island before, but I didn't know about the concept of ikigai! I too am happy to say that I have some of the listed everyday ikigai down already ?  Totally agree with Calvin in believing it's possible to have more than ikigai; and perhaps in the best case scenario you are able to combine them!

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Really enjoyed this article and glad to say I'm lucky enough to have found one of my ikigai skills already and do that for my current job! But, I also think it's possible to have more than one ikigai – I also spend time doing artwork: I love it and think I'm good at it – whether I should be paid for it and whether the world wants it though are two other questions. ?

And it makes sense that finding our ikigai – our reason for being – can lead to happiness and longevity in life, as it works in a similar way to flow: that contented feeling you get when you are doing something you love and time just flies! 

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