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Ikigai - The Japanese Secret To A Successful Life

‘Ikigai’ is a Japanese concept which literally means “a reason for being”.


The origin of this idea can be traced back to the Heian period (794 to 1185 AD). This concept is highly pervasive on the island of Okinawa, which has been holding the record of having the maximum number of centenarians across the globe for years. Although there are other attributes like eating only to satisfy 80% of hunger and exercising regularly which contribute to the long life of the Japanese, Ikigai holds a substantial proportion out of all.


Why do we wake up every morning? “Because we have a purpose,” seems to be an obvious response. However, claiming that reaching the class on time or finishing our tasks before the boss walks in is our “purpose”, then we need to know the difference between “purpose” and “daily chores”. In the context of Ikigai, “purpose” is the sole reason for our willingness to survive. The moment we have discovered it, Ikigai follows its way to us.


To be more elaborative, Ikigai is about finding bliss in what we are doing. When we lose the sense of time throughout our task and are immensely engaged in it without any loss of focus, we’ve found our Ikigai. It takes a lot of patience, persistence, and determination in order to attain it. Sounds like a statement of a self-help book, right? Absolutely, but it’s not as difficult to grasp as it seems. All you have to do is to have a look over this figure:-



After answering the four questions in the above Venn diagram, you need to:-


  • Compile all the answers into a single statement and call it your ‘aspiration’

  • Make a structured plan to attain it

  • Start working on it


One notable aspect of this process is that once you start, don’t think of its consequences.


“Never be hasty enough to look at the top of the mountain right after your first step. Just follow the path and enjoy the delight at the end. It feels much exhilarating.”


In order to substantiate all the words so far, let’s have a look over the lives of highly successful people across the globe. Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Swami Vivekananda, Nelson Mandela, and many others have one thing in common. They keep doing what they have been doing for years. But how were they able to do it? Because they enjoyed it so much that they could do it incessantly. Hence, they'd discovered their Ikigai and created a global impact through it.




"The earlier we discover our Ikigai,

Later do we bid our life a goodbye."

Author: Pratyush Bhatt, Third Year Undergraduate, IIT Gandhinagar

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