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          Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Happy and Meaningful Life

          Have you ever questioned what makes you get out of bed every morning? What reason motivates you to live and enjoy each day?
          If you have, then you might be interested in learning about ikigai!

          Ikigai is a Japanese concept that can help you find your purpose and happiness in life.

          The word comes from the combination of two Japanese characters:

          iki (life) + gai (value or worth).

          Thus, ikigai is the value of life, as in the reason for living. In fact, it’s the very answer to the question “What is our reason for being?”

          According to the Japanese, everyone has an ikigai, that is, a purpose and meaning for life, but not everyone has found it—yet.

          Finding your ikigai requires deep and often long-lasting self-search and introspection. You must question your passions, your talents, your values, and your goals. This isn’t something that you can easily define or explain, but rather something that you must feel and experience.

          Ikigai is not as simple as finding a job, a hobby, or a passion. It’s something that encompasses all of these aspects but also goes beyond them.
          It’s what makes you happy, but also what makes you useful and contributive to society. It’s what gives you satisfaction, but also what challenges you and helps you grow. It’s what makes your life worth living, but also what makes you humble and grateful.

          In the Western interpretation, ikigai is often represented by a diagram of four overlapping circles, each representing one of the following elements:

          • What you love: your passion, what makes you excited and joyful.
          • What you are good at: your skills, what you have talent and expertise in.
          • What the world needs: your mission, what makes a positive difference and impact.
          • What you can be paid for: your profession, what provides you with income and security.

          Your ikigai would be at the intersection of these four elements, where you can find harmony and balance between them.

          However, finding your ikigai is not a one-time event; it’s a continual process of exploration and discovery. Your ikigai can change over time as you grow, learn, and experience new things. It can also be influenced by your context, your culture, and your environment.

          Ikigai in the Western World

          The concept of ikigai has gained popularity in the Western world in recent years, thanks to several books and articles that have introduced it to a broader audience.

          Here are a few examples you may consider reading:

          It needs to be said that this Western interpretation of ikigai—the notion that there are four elements that must be fulfilled in order to achieve ikigai—doesn’t fully capture what this concept really means in Japanese philosophy.

          The confusion that has been spread by millions of people in the West is that you can only reach your goal and true happiness by satisfying all four conditions. However, ikigai for the Japanese is a complex concept, of continual search and development, which we shape as we live our lives and grow older. It’s not something fixed that can be taught from a diagram.

          The Japanese concept is more linked to the understanding that the sum of the small joys of everyday life, living in the present moment and everything we can’t control, and finding self-realization will lead to a more fulfilling life.
          It’s rather a state of mind, of introspection, acceptance, and serenity, than a formula for professional success.

          Furthermore, for the Japanese, the “world” component in the diagram is not about what the world needs from us, but about the roles we play in our community, with family, friends, colleagues, etc.

          Nonetheless, it’s indisputable that this adapted or equivocal version of ikigai has given motivation and purpose to millions of people on this side of the world.

          Many contemporary books have shown how the Japanese philosophy of ikigai can inspire and guide people in finding their own purpose and happiness in life, sharing some of the secrets and practices of the people of Okinawa.
          Okinawa is a group of islands in southern Japan that are home to some of the longest-living and happiest people in the world.

          Stay with us for a few more minutes and we’ll be happy to share some of these secrets and practices with you:

          • Eating a balanced and healthy diet, rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, and fish.
          • Practicing moderate and regular physical activity, such as walking, gardening, or martial arts.
          • Having a strong social network, composed of family, friends, and community members.
          • Engaging in lifelong learning, fostering curiosity and creativity, through activities such as reading, writing, or playing music.
          • Having a positive and optimistic attitude, embracing change, and overcoming challenges.
          • Living in the present moment, being mindful and grateful, and enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

          Why Do We Need a Sense of Purpose to Be Happy?

          Finding and living your ikigai can have many benefits for your well-being, happiness, and health because having a sense of purpose in life can:

          • Increase life satisfaction, self-esteem and happiness
          • Reduce stress, anxiety and depression
          • Enhance cognitive function, memory, and creativity

          Having a sense of purpose in life can also help you cope with the inevitable challenges, difficulties, and losses that you will face along the way.
          .
          It can provide you with a sense of direction, meaning, and hope, and motivate you to overcome obstacles and pursue your goals.

          It can also help you connect with yourself, with others, and with something greater than yourself, whether it’s a cause, a belief, or a higher power.

          But, as the Japanese saying goes, a merchant’s happiness hangs upon chance, winds, and waves, so don’t mistake purpose for control—this is not about pursuing control.

          Finding your ikigai will also help cope with the unpredictable challenges and changes life brings.

          Ikigai is about finding that balance between passion, skill, and money, and it’s that balance that will make you live with a sense that, despite all you cannot control, your life is worth living.

          Just like people commonly say about happiness, ikigai is all about the journey, not the destination. It’s up to you to discover and pursue it. Remember that, above all, it’s a personal and ongoing process that requires patience, curiosity, and dedication. Good luck on your journey! 😊

          At Verbarium, we value and pursue the much-needed work-life balance. We are professional translators and professional proofreaders who strive to be at the top of our abilities, not neglecting rest or our time with family, hobbies and interests, so that we are always fit to offer you our best service.

          Check out our services portfolio today!

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