woman and man holding ice creams

What’s the reason you get out of bed in the morning? That’s your ikigai.

Roughly translated as ‘life’s purpose,’ ikigai is a traditional Japanese concept of something or someone that gives meaning to life. This is not a high handed idea. Perhaps a closer translation would be ‘what gives you enjoyment of every day’.

Only two thirds of Japanese feel their work is their ikigai. Many choose a hobby or sport, their children, family or pets. Simple pleasures such as a morning cup of coffee, working in a garden, walking the dog or playing cards with friends are ways of expressing ikigai.

There are seasons to ikigai. In youth, this could mean a sense of purpose through education, sports or friendships. Middle age brings satisfaction with career and a growing family, while after retirement ikigai may return to simple pleasures – bicycle rides, picnics, time spent with family and friends.

There’s no English word to describe ‘enjoying daily life.’ Maybe we should borrow this one! Instead of washing the dishes, folding laundry or driving to the office, we are practicing our ikigai – enjoying the moments.

Exercise:   Take 15 minutes and list the people, things and activities in your day to day life that give you a lift, a sense of fulfillment or peace. Those are clues to your ikigai.

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