What Is Ikigai?

Ikigai is a Japanese term, pronounced ee-key-guy. The ikigai philosophy encompasses a world view which loosely translates into representing your entire reason for being. This is both profound and simple at the same time. Why are you here? What is your motivation for getting out of bed in the morning? Ikigai. It’s important to note that ikigai has an atmosphere of joy about it. Ikigai is not about crawling miserably out of bed because your alarm clock is blaring and you are forced to go somewhere you hate. It’s about deliberately developing a path in life so that the things you work toward are things you actively want to be in your life. While there are societies in our world where people do tasks they despise for community reasons, in the areas where people tend to live the longest with the higher levels of satisfaction, the way the people spend their day tends to be more aligned with what each person values. Yes, it takes time to find that balance. And, yes, it’s worth it to develop ikigai.

Cultivating Ikigai

Like everything in life, small steps add up. Ikigai is not necessarily about taking drastic steps to upend your life. Rather, ikigai is about taking stock of where you are right now. Maybe you have a job you’re not fond of but you have a strong friendship that is important to you. Maybe your work-life balance is iffy but you see great potential for where you are going. Look with open eyes at where you are. You don’t have to love your situation. Simply be wholly aware of where this starting point is. Then plan out the areas you’d like to make progress in.

Ikigai Components

You might want to review your situation looking at:

  • How you earn income to pay your bills
  • What your future path might hold
  • What support structures are in place (family / friends)
  • What brings you joy
    It is wholly fine if some areas need development. That will be true for nearly all of us. The key is
    to look at where you are now with compassionate awareness and then start mapping out a plan
    for moving toward your goals.

We can be trained by society to think of the things we love to do and the things we have to do as being in two entirely separate categories. However, in an ideal world, we would absolutely love to do the things which also happen to bring in income to pay our various bills. This creates a situation where we actively want to go in to “work” because it is what brings us joy to do.

Ikigai Support Structure

Some of us grow up in families or societies where the very concept of ikigai is foreign. Teens are often driven by their parents to enter professions they despise simply because ‘there are jobs there’. There are countless fantastic artists who were brutally corralled by their parents to study for professions the artists despised, simply because the parents felt it was the ‘safer bet’. Many of the artists were miserable for years before ‘dropping out’ and becoming a full-time artist. Those artists then were joyful in what they did, passionate in the works they created, and revered for their talents. Imagine a world where you could be anything you wanted to be. What would fill you with the most joy? Where would you thrive? The first key is to acknowledge for yourself where this area is. The next key is to find a support structure – friends, family members, mentors – who will cheerlead by your side as you work toward that goal.

Align Your Life Toward Ikigai

Change usually doesn’t happen overnight. Often transformation takes shape in a series of small shifts to get you moving in the right direction. One woman was in a job she hated; it drained her energy every day. She gave great thought about what she adored doing. In her case, it was writing. She sought out a group of people who enjoyed writing. Being around the fellow writers energized her. She was mentored in great ideas and pathways. She found ways to educate herself in techniques. Soon she was writing novels and getting them published. It was all about releasing the negativity of her surroundings and building her foundation to move her forward.

Embrace Ikigai

Ikigai builds a self-sustaining cycle. You wake up each morning looking forward to doing the things you love. You approach those tasks with enthusiasm, because you adore being involved in that world. You receive praise and admiration from like-minded people. You end your day refreshed and content. These successes build on themselves and lift you to your dreams.

Ikigai is the key. Find ways to incorporate ikigai into your daily life, and watch your future blossom.

About Author

Rajul Kaushik

As a result of my journey that spans continents and results in resilience and self-belief, I have navigated my way from self-doubt and social rejection to a senior executive role internationally.

It has been an unconventional path, guided by life’s lessons and invaluable mentors, that has led to key roles at Asian Paints and Ballarpur Industries Limited, and expanded my horizons in international business.

My greatest source of pride? My accomplished children, who embody the values I cherish. My approach is holistic, drawing on a range of methodologies such as Ikigai, Yoga, Mindfulness, Sanskrit Mantra Chanting and Vedic Astrology.

It extends beyond mere problem-solving, emphasizing introspection and forging an authentic path.

Success, I believe, is rooted in attitude, decisions, and meaningful relationships.

I am open to connecting with those seeking personal enrichment, especially within the global Indian diaspora.

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