Last year we were buying cosy blankets, candles and fluffy socks to make our homes more hygge. This year the buzzword is ikigai.
Here’s what you need to know.
Like the Danish word hygge, there’s no simple, direct translation into English for the Japanese word ikigai. It roughly means the “thing that you live for” or “the reason for which you get up in the morning.”
Ikigai (pronounced “eye-ka-guy”) is, above all else, a lifestyle that strives to balance the spiritual with the practical. In a nutshell, it encompasses the idea that happiness in life is about more than money or a fancy job title.
The 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. As a result, it is thought ikigai may not only hold the key to happiness, but also longevity.
How Does Ikigai Work?
It’s easiest to think about ikiagi as an intersection, the common ground between:
- What you love
- What you care about
- What the world needs
- What you can get paid for
Ikigai has a few essential qualities that separate it from the “follow your passion” truism we so often hear about in Western culture. As Performance Coach and Behavioural Professor, Melody Wilding, explains, the core difference is this:
- It’s challenging. Your ikigai should lead to mastery and growth.
- It’s your choice. You feel a certain degree of autonomy and freedom pursuing your ikigai.
- It involves a commitment of time and belief, perhaps to a particular cause, skill, trade, or group of people.
- It boosts your well-being. Ikigai is associated with positive relationships and good health. It gives you more energy than it takes away.
Figuring Out Your Ikigai
Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, co-author’s of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, show us some simple ways to ‘make every day of your life joyful and meaningful with Ikigai’.
1. Stay active and don’t retire
2. Leave urgency behind and adopt a slower pace of life
3. Only eat until you are 80 per cent full
4. Surround yourself with good friends
5. Get in shape through daily, gentle exercise
6. Smile and acknowledge people around you
7. Reconnect with nature
8. Give thanks to anything that brightens our day and makes us feel alive.
9. Live in the moment
10. Follow your ikigai