The Japanese Secret To Living A Fulfilling Life.

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Ikigai is a Japanese self-development philosophy that helps create a meaningful life.

It dates back at least 1000 years to the Heian period in Japanese history.

In Japanese, the word iki means to live, and the word gai means reason, thus the concept of having a reason to live was born.

Why are we here? What is our purpose? What do we seek to achieve?

Trying to figure out the answers to these existential questions can quite frankly leave people feeling overwhelmed and confused.

Ikigai helps break these questions down into four specific categories; what they love, what they get paid for, what the world needs and what they are good at.  

The Japanese teaching states that when each of these categories intersect, a person will experience true fulfilment and happiness in their lives.

This is because their values, passions and talents will finally align.

Some categories might overlap already.

For example, most people are probably getting paid for something they are good at.

For those who are searching for a purpose in life, unlocking their inner Ikigai is the first step to figure it out.

In order to unlock one’s inner Ikigai, they must engage in deep and honest self-reflection.

The goal is not to find a career path or a hobby that encompasses all the categories but to allow themselves the time and space to actively engage with each element.

By doing this, the individual will feel not only satisfied, but purposeful in the work they are doing every day.

In the book Ikigai. The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, they mention their version of the ten commandments that guide an individual towards their Ikigai. 

Stay Active, Don’t Retire

Woman doing yoga. Image by AndiP from

Although most people dream about the day they can retire, sit back and relax after decades of hard work, they will soon discover that their jobs or hobbies were their greatest sense of purpose.

This is why it is important to continue to do things that are of value, even if their professional life has come to an end.

Finding a vocation that gives them a reason to get up in the morning is better than fading into a void after retirement, where life seems meaningless.

Take It Slow

There is an old cliché that every once in a while, we should stop to smell the roses.

Living a fast-paced life does not equate to a life of quality.

If people let go of their sense of urgency, they will have a new-found appreciation for life.

Slowing down allows each moment to become more meaningful.

Don’t Overeat.

The book recalls on an 80% rule, where a person only eats until they are around 80% full.

This will lead to a healthier alternative to stuffing themselves silly.

In general, this rule will allow them to have a more satisfying food experience.

Surround Yourself with Good People

Two friends laughing together. Photo by ELEVATE from

Nobody has time to surround themselves with people who don’t add to their sense of happiness. 

Having good people around whether it be family or friends, will help a person to stay grounded and true to themselves.

Stay in Shape

Bodies were made to keep moving, not to mention, exercise is important for both physical and mental health.

Using one’s birthday as a checkpoint to work towards is a great way to stay accountable for their fitness goals.

Read how exercise makes us happier than money here.

Smile More

Smiling releases happy chemicals throughout the body.

It is important to smile as much as possible to maintain a positive, optimistic attitude.

A change in attitude can be the difference between a good day or a bad day.

Reconnect with Nature

Going outdoors more to reconnect with nature is the best way to recharge from a busy life.

For people who like to go on a digital detox every now and then, heading back into nature can help to rejuvenate the mind, body and soul.

Be Grateful

It is important to give thanks every day.

Gratitude is how people stay humble and appreciative for every opportunity they have experienced.

Exercising this ability can be empowering as it centers the individual in their roots and doesn’t allow them to pass through life graciously.

Live in the Moment

Girl holding sparklers. Photo by Renato Abati from

Staying present allows regrets to remain in the past and worries to be erased for the future.

When one decides to take life moment by moment, they are released from all past and future burdens.

This ultimately allows them to lead a more meaningful life. 

Chase Your Ikigai

Through practicing these steps, one will move towards a life centered around their Ikigai.

It is important that they follow the paths that are the most fulfilling without hesitance.

Everybody has a mission according to Ikigai, it is their responsibility however, to figure it out.

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