Ikigai: Your Reason for Being

“I didn’t ask for success I asked for wonder” -Abraham Joshua Heschel



In each of us we have that ‘thing’ we can not get enough of in life. There is that one thing you have always sought out and it brings you great joy. Unfortunately, we aren’t always sure what that ‘thing’ is. Society is always on the hunt for happiness and purpose, and rightfully so. We want our lives to have meaning and fulfilment. We search for it in every way possible. But what if this fulfilment was already inside of you? What is this fulfilment has been something that since childhood has been an ongoing personal love and passion? What if this meaning and deep purpose in life has been growing inside your entire life, and now you just have to find the best way to express it? In Japan there is a really beautiful word for this idea, it is Ikigai.


This past Christmas season, while shopping at Barnes and Noble, I found the most eye catching little book with the title “Ikigai: Giving Every Day Meaning and Joy”. I immediately picked it up, read the summary, and bought it for a friend as a gift. On the way home, I looked to see if there was a TED talk on this concept of Ikigai and there was! Long story short, the last couple of weeks I have found myself chasing the meaning and trying to examine what Ikigai is to me.


Ikigai is a Japanese word formed from two Japanese characters meaning: life and worth. Ikigai simply said is your life worth. It is the value and happiness found in life and the reason you get up in the morning.


For the blog this week, I wanted to share some information and tips on finding your own Ikigai. Most of the information we are giving you is a summary of the book I found at Barnes & Noble and from the TED talk.


In ikigai there are four major components of things that you must do (it is an action) to find your Ikigai…


The Four Components of Ikigai: (You must…)

  1. Do Something that you love (drawing, dancing, singing, reading, writing, building, creating… that which gives you present joy)

  2. Do something the world needs (create a visible positive affect around others for you)

  3. Do something you will get rewarded for (verbal/noted appreciation or payment)

  4. Do something that you are good at (not natural born talent, but something you are able to put in time and effort to get better at it)

Don’t let this overwhelm you. Let’s start isolating your ikigai with two questions: what are you good at and what do you love?


Ikigai is a verb!

To serve

To create

To delight

To nourish

To provide

To teach

To heal

To connect

To build

Which of these verbs resonate within you?

Suki koso mono no jouzo nare - Japanese Proverb (which means that how much you love something determines how good you become at it)

My boyfriend loves to make things work, make things efficient, and find a way to have things make sense. He is a pianist, police officer/paramedic, and loves carpentry (among other construction tasks). When it comes to the piano he loves to work through a hard piece of music and labor through it until it makes sense. When it comes to work, he loves to figure out what is critically wrong with a patient and then help resolve the problem. At home he loves to work on the electrical wiring, framing, and odds and ends of our house. He loves to fix, to make things efficient, and to make things work. This is his ikigai. When his ikigai isn’t being met he gets frustrated. His ikigai is the central force behind all his decisions and why he gets out of bed in the morning.


I give this example to show you that this process never changes. Every area of your life should be affected by your Ikigai. When the four components of your ikigai aren’t being met you will run into some issues. You can be passionate about what it is that you are doing, but without a focus on a way to market your passions you wont receive the deserved rewards for your ikigai. If you have a mission you want to accomplish, but no skill then your ikigai will also not be met. If you have made a profession out of your ikigai, but you don’t love your work this is also not meeting your Ikigai. And lastly, when you have what the world needs and you are getting paid well, you may lose your passion by not always challenging yourself to keep getting better at your Ikigai.





After you identify your Ikigai you can start to find areas in your life that need growth or change. You can also feel a wave of satisfaction learning something deeper about yourself. Our lives are so short, fragile, and delicate. Yet so many of us whom while being alive are really dead. We live in despair and fear. To fight the obstacle of living a meaningless life, we must find our Ikigai. There is a quote from Rob Bell that reminds me of the urgency to find your life meaning, he stated, “Despair is a spiritual disease.” To wake up every day with a feeling of despair is such a tragedy when we could wake up every day with meaning and purpose.

I hope that this blog post has got your wheels turning and leaves you feeling inspired and empowered to find your Ikigai. Find your Ikigai so that we can benefit from it and appreciate you for it.


Below I have a worksheet that you can save /print and work through to help figure your Ikigai out! I have also listed some inspirational quotes & thoughts on Ikigai if you need them for a vision board or for a little sticky note of encouragement somewhere:


“It’s is your responsibility to tailor your work to make it as meaningful as possible.”-Yakari Mitsuhashi
“Humans are born to collaborate, not compete.” - Yakari Mitsuhashi.

“I think ikigai is something you do even though no one has asked you to, simply because you want to.” -Rika Yajima

“If there is a need in society for what you’re doing, it will be sustainable and it will become your role in society, as well as your ikiagi.” -haruka mera


Written By: Jenifer Veloso


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© 2018 We Are Kathy: Their stories, her stories, our stories.

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