A Hack To Finding Ikigai

How do we know when we've found ikigai?

For Yohei Nakajima, people will feel it when they find ikigai; and a better way of finding ikigai is by knowing what role you play in your community because figuring out your part in the society gives you a sense of purpose.

Nick: It's interesting how we're having this conversation and how we started with this idea that ikigai in the West was this sweet spot of finding something that you love, that you're good at, that the world needs and you can be paid for.

And what we're discussing and you're sharing is ikigai will come and go, it'll change over time and your life has these ups and downs.

So ikigai is not this sweet spot to try and hope that you'll get to one day, it's actually something we can find and my question is, how do we know when we've found it? 

Yohei: When you find it, you feel it. Specifically, I touch on a little trick that I think works and this is candidly a little bit of my take on purpose and ikigai is that I believe that we as humans are inherently social creatures. 

Today we have multiple tribes. Historically in the past, you had a village and you had your one tribe. Today, we have a lot of different tribes and within that tribe, I think all of us have a character that we embody, within that tribe, your role within that community.

Within a family you could be the jokester father, or at work you could be the silly coworker or the heads down, the guy who gets it down, or the guy who's always called, even in the case of emergency.

But we all have this role that we play within a tribe. I think looking for that role within your various tribes is, I call it a hack to finding ikigai, because it gives you a sense of purpose within that tribe, within your community.

Nick: That part of your article was what made me so happy because it was like the missing piece.

I was desperately trying to understand ikigai, been doing a lot of research and then I found your article and when I read those last few paragraphs about understanding your role in your community, in your personal community, it just made so much sense because we have roles, and we live our values through our roles. 

I think one important aspect of ikigai is, you want to be living your life in line with your values. So if you're a playful, loving father and you are that role, you'll have a feeling of ikigai.

But if for whatever reason you're stressed and you're under a lot of pressure and one night you come home and your kids want to play and you get upset or angry. A few seconds after that moment and minutes, maybe hours after that moment, you'll have this regret, because you have expressed yourself in opposition to your values.

So I think this was the biggest takeaway for me from your blog posts that we have roles to play in our tribes and it's important we find these roles and live them. 

That's really the best advice because there are many best selling books that say “ikigai; the Japanese secret to a long and happy life”, but they don't really offer a way for you to find it other than saying eat well, exercise, have many friends.

But they don't offer something you can really think about and reflect on and think, what is my role in my family? Or what is my role in my circle of friends, or in my workplace, or as an entrepreneur? So that was very helpful and it really was the reason why I reached out to you.


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