Not very recently I have encountered this word and I found it very interesting.
I’ve always loved the Japanese language because I find it more meaningful. I’m not saying English words are not but there’s just something about Japanese terms that’s more… eloquent would be the best description I could think of.
(I find it very similar to how Chinese proverbs seem to sound very wise, you know what I mean?)
So here’s what this is about. According to my research, ‘Ikigai’ means “a reason for living.” It’s like the intersection between what you want to do and what you have to do. If put into questions, it’ll be: Do you love what you’re doing? Is it useful? Are you good at it? Are you getting paid for it?
It gives me a feeling of fulfilling your destiny, like finding your calling. And I guess that’s the kind of satisfaction we all need. ‘Coz at the end of the day, we’re not only living for ourselves, and the satisfaction we get from our achievements is not the same with what we get from meeting expectations and being needed.
But finding your ‘ikigai’ requires deep self-searching and I think that’s the hardest part ‘coz self is such a complex thing. You don’t know exactly what you want right away. I mean if I were to ask you to tell me anything about yourself right now, you probably wouldn’t have an instant answer except for factual stuff, like your name or birthdate.
That’s just how we are as people. And getting to know yourself is like getting to know another person, which somehow requires a lifetime ‘coz just as the people around us change, we also change ourselves.
However, this Japanese belief says it’s worth it. Maybe because if we appease with ourselves that’s when we become the people that we are – the best versions of us, probably. If we have a firm definition of who we are, we won’t let anything else define us anymore. Whether it’s our failures, our mistakes, or whatever other people think of us.
But so much for being idealistic. I think, on simpler note, finding your ‘ikagai’ is more like just choosing to get up and go on with living (not merely existing). ‘Coz in the end, it’s just us who gives meaning to our lives – what we do and, most importantly, what we think.