Finding a decent job can be hard. Now try finding your life’s purpose. Most of us go from aspiring astronaut to aspiring rock star to actual cashier and then an endless series of bland gigs. It’s time to change your future. The Japanese concept of ikigai can help you zero in on the thing (or things!) that’ll make your spirit sing. You just need to know what to ask yourself.
According to a 2016 study in the Journal of Research in Personality, living with a sense of purpose could predict a higher income and better health. A no-duh study from 2013 points out that people who knew their life’s purpose lived happier lives, too. So there you have it. Go get your life some purpose and have the best life ever! Boom, done! Ta-da!
Obviously, finding your true calling is more than just an overnight homework assignment. There is a Japanese concept that can help you identify it, through a slow, thorough process. It’s called ikigai. Though it doesn’t have a direct English translation, it is thought to combine the Japanese words ikiru, meaning “to live,” and kai, meaning “the realization of what one hopes for.” According to the World Economic Forum, ikigai is becoming popular outside of Japan as a way to live longer and better. After all, Japan is home to a blue zone: a place where people have an extraordinarily high life expectancy.
Here is an easy way to start thinking about your ikigai: It sits at the intersection of the four questions below. If you can find a thing that can answer all four, then you might be onto something. Just as people change with age and other conditions, keep in mind that your ikigai can change too. To start finding how to add meaning and value to your life, answer these questions:
1. What do you love?
2. What are you good at?
3. What does the world need from you?
4. What can you get paid for?
In order to stir people’s thoughts and feelings, there is no more effective way than to ask them about the purpose of their lives. Ask them if they enjoy every bit of their work. Ask them if they are living up to all their talents and potentials. Ask them if their family appreciates their hard work. Make them focus on themselves.
People who live meaningful lives never ask themselves such questions. They are busy serving other people in whatever capacity their talents can afford. They know they will only dampen their spirits when they scrutinize their interests, skills, and career options. They simplify their search by focusing on identifying problems they care about and dedicate themselves to solving these problems. Their passion and skills would develop accordingly.
There will always be life events that could disrupt the flow of their lives and make them feel that their lives have lost its purpose: the loss of a loved one, economic hardships, oppression from a dictatorial regime, among other things. The key is whenever they find themselves focusing on their needs, they learn to snap out of it and adapt a wider perspective by looking into what they can do for others.
Check out my related post: What is a purposeful question?