The Mindful Blog

On your purpose in life - Ikigai

Have you ever wondered about the purpose of your life? Are you searching for a sense of direction and meaning? If so, you are surely not alone. The quest for purpose is a universal human experience, and it has been the subject of philosophical and psychological inquiry for centuries. I have struggled throughout my entire life with finding it and/or making it and I may not be there yet – it might be even more challenging for people with adverse child experiences or/and depression (this is my case, but thankfully nothing is written in the stone and you have power to overturn the consequences of something that is not your fault). 

In recent years, the study of purpose and meaning in life has become a growing field of research in psychology. Studies have shown that having a sense of purpose is linked to a range of positive outcomes, including greater well-being, better mental and physical health, and increased resilience in the face of stress and adversity.

So, what exactly is purpose, and how can we find it?

Purpose can be defined as a sense of direction and intentionality in life, a belief that one’s existence has meaning and significance. It is a guiding force that can give our lives a sense of coherence and make the challenges we face more bearable. Without purpose, life can feel aimless and meaningless, leaving us feeling lost and disconnected.

But finding purpose is not always easy. It requires self-reflection, exploration, and sometimes, trial and error. Many people struggle to find their purpose in life, and the journey can be long and arduous. 

However, the good news is that there are things we can do to increase our sense of purpose and meaning. Here are some evidence-based strategies that may help:

Connect with your values: Think about the things that matter most to you in life. What do you value? What do you care about? Connecting with your values can help you clarify your priorities and give your life a sense of direction and purpose.

Identify your strengths: What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? Identifying your strengths can help you find activities and pursuits that align with your abilities and interests, giving you a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Pursue meaningful goals: Set goals that are aligned with your values and strengths, and that have a clear sense of purpose. Pursuing meaningful goals can give you a sense of direction and purpose in life, and can help you stay motivated and engaged.

Practice gratitude: Gratitude is the practice of focusing on the positive aspects of life and expressing appreciation for them. Practicing gratitude can help you cultivate a sense of purpose and meaning by helping you appreciate the good things in life and fostering a sense of connection to others.

While finding your purpose in life can be challenging, it is a journey worth taking. By connecting with your values, identifying your strengths, pursuing meaningful goals, and practicing gratitude, you can increase your sense of purpose and meaning in life, and ultimately, lead a more fulfilling and satisfying life. It is not a one-time event. It is an ongoing process that requires ongoing self-reflection and exploration. Be patient with yourself, be open to new experiences, and trust that with time and effort, you will find your way.

And now a bit on the Japanese concept of IKIGAI.

In recent years, the concept of ikigai has gained popularity in the West, where people are increasingly searching for ways to live more fulfilling lives. The idea of finding one’s ikigai is often used as a framework for personal growth and self-discovery, as well as for career and life planning.

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that translates to “reason for being” or “purpose in life”. It is the intersection of four elements: what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.

According to the concept of ikigai, when these four elements come together, they create a sense of purpose and fulfillment in life. Finding your ikigai is seen as a way to live a meaningful and fulfilling life, where you are able to use your unique skills and passions to contribute to the world and find personal satisfaction.

Ikigai has become a popular concept in Western cultures in recent years, as people search for ways to find more meaning and purpose in their lives. It is often used as a framework for career and life planning, as well as for personal growth and self-discovery.

But what is its origin?

The concept of ikigai has its roots in the island of Okinawa, which is known for having one of the highest life expectancies in the world. The people of Okinawa have long practiced a philosophy called “nuchi gusui,” which means “medicine for the soul,” and which is based on the idea that having a sense of purpose and a reason for being is essential for a long and healthy life.

The term “ikigai” itself first appeared in the 14th century, in a poem by a Japanese monk named Kokan Shiren. Over time, the concept of ikigai evolved to encompass a broader idea of purpose and meaning in life, and it has become an important part of Japanese culture.

The poem that is often cited as the first written use of the term “ikigai” is a 14th-century poem by the Japanese monk Kokan Shiren. The poem goes like this:


“ikigai wa itsumo, soko ni shite aru
subete no hito ni, tsutaete yareyo”

This can be translated to English as:

Your ikigai is at the place where your passion, mission, vocation, and profession intersect. Let your message be heard by everyone.”

This poem expresses the idea that everyone has an ikigai, and that it is found at the intersection of four elements: what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. The message of the poem is that by finding your ikigai and sharing it with others, you can live a meaningful and fulfilling life.

We invite you to our  Shinrin Yoku Guide Training to experience your unfolding.

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