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Ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced [ikiɡai]) is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” 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. The word translated to English roughly means “thing that you live for” or “the reason for which you wake up in the morning.” Each individual’s ikigai is personal to them and specific to their lives, values and beliefs. It reflects the inner self of an individual and expresses that faithfully, while simultaneously creating a mental state in which the individual feels at ease. Activities that allow one to feel ikigai are never forced on an individual; they are often spontaneous, and always undertaken willingly, giving the individual satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life.

The word ikigai usually is 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 linked to one’s financial status. Even if a person feels that the present is dark, but they have a goal in mind, they may feel ikigai. Behaviours that make one feel ikigai are not actions one is 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.” [Wikipedia]

Hmm…that above is quite interesting, isn’t it?

I think it is.

I imagine if more people felt “ikigai” in their lives, we would have lesser frustrated people, many of whom hurt others or turn to crime, walking the planet.

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I watch documentaries on how people live their lives in old and remote communities. Oh what joy, everyone doing life in love and togetherness with lower level of stress, contentment written on many faces, great productivity in their chosen occupation and an overall feeling of being healthy and blessed.

These people are able to build stronger connections with the people around them, seek out new relationships and nurture the existing ones. I watched an episode about a music village in faraway China. Almost everyone in that town, aside their various occupation, played the guitar. They were such a happy people. They welcome tourists with beautiful song renditions about their heritage and even gave out gifts of handwoven cloth materials of intricate designs when the group were leaving. They didn’t sell their handiwork – a product of their skills and hardwork – to these “well to do” visitors. They gave these things out in love and openness. What touched me most was the farewell song they sang when the tourists were leaving. They were so emotional about it they got me smiling and wiping my face right there in my sitting room. I saw in them a people who were content and satisfied with the life they lived. They saw being known as a music village filled with happy people as a privilege, an heritage passed down and they upheld it by being first individually hospitable, then collectively welcoming of all who stopped by. Such serenity and peace, such love and positivity, comes from leading a purposeful life seeking out good and creating a difference in the world. Simple but rich and deep.

Less I forget to add the most vital of all:

We were created in the image of God for fellowship with him. That relationship in oneness with Him who is our Source, is the only thing that can ultimately satisfy our souls. Augustine summarized it in this way: “You [God] have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”

Until we come to know God, our hearts will continue to thirst. [Please note that I am not talking about knowing God as in a religion or how a system of religion has decided to portray Him.]

God created man to glorify him and enjoy fellowship with Him, have good relationships with others, work [that is, create, produce, make something from the resources deposited in him and around him at creation] and to have dominion over the earth. But, unfortunately, with a man’s fellowship with God broken, relationships with others are strained, work is frustrating, and man struggles to maintain any semblance of dominion over nature. Only by restoring fellowship with God, can these things be rediscovered.

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A relationship with God, in spirit and in truth, is the only thing that will quench our soul’s longing.

I guess this brings us to the end of the purpose themed talks…

With Love,

Pamela

Photocredit: Google Images

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4 Replies to “IKIGAI – A Reason For Being”

  1. Hmm! What a good and motivating article you have written. I think understanding ones purpose and what he is living for (ikigai) earlier in life saves one from unnecessary stress, competition, contention and unhealthy aspirations. Like the example of the people in the documentary narrative that you gave, they might not have enjoyed the luxury of cities like New York, Washington and the likes, not because we don’t have people who are living to fulfill their “ikigai”in those cities I mentioned. But these “poor” but rich people and fulfilling purpose by doing what they know how to do best and making somebody else happy too. To them that’s success and fulfillment, while in other places what they are doing may not be reckon as success and fulfillment. Success, fulfillment and satisfaction is relative. They don’t need struggling to live other people’s life or contending to become someone else in whom they are not wired to be. If everyone know his or her place and what they are meant to fulfill, we will have a better world free of sickness, accidents, stress and struggles. you’ve really said it all. The altmost fulfillment and satisfaction in a man’s life is to have God at the center of everything. Thanks for this write up.

  2. Hmmmm
    Ikigai; a reason for being.

    Man is a being with diverse range of purposes, expectations and yearnings. Hence, we want and desire different things. Success is therefore differently termed.

    However, the underlying common core of all successes and the reason we desired success is to achieve happiness and self satisfaction.

    Happiness and self satisfaction are therefore the driving force behind our purpose, yearning and expectations.

    And that is our reason for being. To be happy. To be satisfied. To be fulfilled.

    And the only one way we can collectively and truly achieve this is to be at one-ment with God.

    This is my first taste of your ink and I enjoyed it Pamela.

    Keep it up dear.

    1. Thank you so much, Halladie Tosin. You have summarized the post beautifully! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the blog. Cheers!

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