As humans, we’re blessed—and cursed—with the awareness of the fact that we are all inevitably going to die someday. Because of this, there seems to be a universal fear of death. However, I’ve come to believe that what we fear isn’t death itself, but instead not having lived a meaningful life when our time on this earth comes to an end. Luckily, there is a certain Japanese concept that could help with facing this fear: Ikigai.
The word “ikigai” is a combination of the words “iki” meaning “life”, and “gai”, which is associated with value or worth. In other words, ikigai is all about finding genuine happiness and fulfillment in life through living out your purpose.
This concept has its origins in the Japanese island of Okinawa, which is said to be home to the largest population of centenarians in the world. (And perhaps this could be proof that those who are happier tend to live longer lives?)
Ikigai, more specifically your ikigai, is the intersection of four primary elements:
– your passion
– your profession
– your mission
– your vocation
While this may sound a little complicated, the opposite is true. In fact, living life with your ikigai in mind can be done in 3 simple steps:
Ask yourself the following questions:
1. What do I love?
2. What am I good at?
3. What can I be paid for now — or something that could transform into my future hustle?
4. What does the world need?
Keep in mind, though, that you don’t have to figure out all of these things right now. Sometimes the answers just come to you as you go on with your daily routine.
Okay, let’s say you‘ve figured out the intersection between what you love, what you’re good at, what you can be paid for, and what the world needs.
Now, you can act. Now you can find the strength to say no to the temptation of doing things simply for the sake of doing them, or to add another line of experience to your resume. More importantly, you can allow your ikigai to motivate you to get up every single morning with the knowledge that you are capable of achieving something bigger than yourself.
Because if there is no meaning behind the things you are currently doing, then what are you still doing them for?
Ultimately, what we crave for in life—even though we don’t always realize it—is fulfillment. And to achieve this fulfillment, we must find a reason to live that goes beyond power, fame, or material possessions. So allow yourself to figure out what excites you. What gives you the willpower to go on despite the difficulties that may come your way. What makes you lose track of time. What never fails to bring out the best in you.
Then pursue it with all you’ve got.
At some point you might start to feel like you’re not as passionate about the things you used to love.
And that’s okay.
It would be wrong to stop yourself from reflecting on what you consider to be worth living for every now and then. After all, your ikigai is not set in stone.
Simple enough, right? Discover your passion, profession, mission, and vocation, then collide them.
And with all of this in mind we can say that death may be permanent, but perhaps by living out our ikigai, we can create an impact on the world that will be remembered long after we leave this world.