Which is your IKIGAI?
I discovered the meaning of this word a few years ago when a Japanese friend asked me this question and I was immediately fascinated.
Ikigai is a Japanese word, literally composed of iki (living) and gai (reason).
There are many philosophical or psychological theories to help people find a balance in life: some based on stress reduction and emotional management, others on the implementation of their desires.
Japanese Ikigai philosophy, on the other hand, aims at well-being through the realization of one’s own destiny.
Ikigai is a word that once translated, means “something worth living for“.
That passion, that talent, that inner drive for which you are willing to face the most difficult tests and the darkest moments.
It is, in short, what we are brought for, what we love, and that pushes us to get out of bed every morning.
This conception of life was initially born on the island of Okinawa several centuries ago, the southernmost island in Japan, where there is the highest number of ultra centenarians – where the term had entered traditional use to indicate people who had reached the highest level of inner serenity.
And with the passing of time, it spread to the whole country, becoming a real philosophy.
According to the philosophy of life that has been created in Japan around this term, each of us has our own Ikigai: a form of destiny that has little to do with inevitability, but much to do with choice and conviction.
It is as if each of us had to make a path to happiness, and the Ikigai was the path we freely choose to follow to get there.
This choice is not only about the work or activity we choose to do: it is something deeper.
Looking for your own Ikigai means, first of all, putting yourself to the test, going beyond the fears and laziness of everyday life, to put yourself to the test. It is not an immediate, easy or intuitive thing: on the contrary, it is a sort of listening to oneself and one’s life that aims to identify the things that really push us in life, and that can make us happy if you pursue them.
In order to be able to indicate the work that needs to be done on oneself to identify one’s own Ikigai, a scheme with 4 concentric circles has also been created, which contemplates 8 voices.
The first four are primary elements – passion, mission, profession, vocation – and represent what one loves, what one feels one must be off, what gratifies us materially, and what one feels one is being brought to.
The Ikigai resides precisely at the centre of the interconnection between these circles.
If you are missing or lacking in one of the voices contemplated by the scheme, it means that you are not fully exploiting your potential.
Living with a sense of fulfilment is, according to this Eastern philosophy, what sets everything in motion, the platform from which to start all the other decisions that are made during the day and that make life special and worthy of being lived.