Now you may ask, why do we need one on an everyday basis? Because as per the Japanese — and they are known to be wise and grounded — having an ikigai makes you happy and gives you a longer life. Studies have shown globally that people with a definite purpose or strong passion in their lives lead far better lives than the ones who don’t. In fact, a study with a survey of tens of thousands of Japanese adults (between the ages of 40 and 79) showed that the ones with ikigai had far less stress in their lives, and hence live longer. These people mostly belonged to the southern sunny island of Okinawa, known to reside some of the longest-living human beings in the world! Another study in the US showed that people with a sense of purpose had a 15 per cent lower risk of death compared with those who were more or less aimless.
How to find your purpose
The trick, it seems, is to find that sense of purpose, especially if you haven’t been feeling it. Feelings of being overwhelmed and aimless can often be helped by putting more explicit intention and planning into your goals. If you feel cloudy or lost, perhaps it has been too long since you have taken stock of what your goals are, or thought of steps you need to achieve them.
Spiritual coach and author Peri Pakroo says, “Even a small amount of planning and breaking big tasks down into small ones can help your mind absorb what you need to do without feeling overwhelmed – and even get excited about the work ahead of you. When we wake up feeling excited and eager for the day, our happiness and health improve. Having a clear sense of purpose is a natural motivator, so taking some time to find yours is well worth it.”
There is a simple way to find out what your ikigai is. Ask yourself these four questions (refer to graphic on page 1. Your ikigai lies somewhere in between these answers – and these answers may overlap at times. Here they go:
1. What do you love doing? What motivates you in life, in short, describe your passion.
2. What are you good at? This is in connection to the work that you do. If the answer to the first and second question is the same, you are among a lucky few. But even if it’s not, don’t stress. What you’re good at can give you the money to pursue what you really want.
3. What does the world need from you, i.e., what’s your greater purpose in life? What are your traits that can help make this world a better place? Realising this goal, and acting on it, can give immense satisfaction to a human being.
4. What can you get paid for? Overlaps the second question a bit but more specifically asks about one particular trait that will assure you money. May or may not be your job. It can be a business or an idea that can serve you monetarily.
Your ikigai is somewhere in between these answers. It’s time to think. In the meantime, we ask a few celebs about their ikigai or reason for living…
My boys are my ikigai. I want to spend every single minute of my life watching them grow. This time is not going to come back. My children not only make me feel responsible, they also add a perspective to my life. It’s like I am living my younger days all over again. That’s the reason I wake up every morning – to feel young with my kids again
— Hrithik Roshan, actor
My ikigai keeps changing from time to time. Currently, it is this new book that I am writing. My characters call out to me. I have merged with their world
—Preeti Shenoy, author
I remember when I was young and I always felt completely out of place, the only thing that got me feeling happy was cracking jokes and it made my life a joy. I want to spread joy as much as possible. Make their lives feel good. That’s my ikigai
—Sorabh Pant, comedian
I wake up with gratitude. My ikigai is to do what I can to make the journey most satisfying one. I’ve learnt to be in the moment and enjoy the now!
—Divya Dutta, actor
We are forever evolving and I want to make sure that I do my bit to make it count – whether it’s being a better son, or a better actor, husband, father or brother. I just want to be better than I was yesterday
—Rohit Roy, actor
My reason for waking up everyday is that I feel blessed to do what I love! I sing, dance, travel to beautiful countries, act. I can live the life I desire. Gratitude and the desire to make my loved ones proud is my ikigai.
— Sophie Choudhary, singer
Work is the reason I wake up every morning and feel great. There is something new to look forward to – be it dealing with set issues or managing the media. The day there is no purpose left in my life, I will hang my boots and retire to the hills. That’s when, perhaps, I would like to rest for a bit longer.
—Imtiaz Ali, director
Ikigai, for me, is my quest to create. I have realised that what drives me in life is to be creative. I get up every day with the purpose to explore something new
—Saumya Tandon, actor