Distinguish Ikigai and Yarigai

Ted Bonnah explains the difference between yarigai and ikigai; yarigai is something worth doing and can be the work people enjoy doing. However, for some people who don't find joy in the work they do, they seek hobbies that can give them satisfaction, and that can be their ikigai.

Ikigai can be a lot of different things

Nick: What I've learned from a lot of my Japanese friends, it's something quite small and humble: a hobby or pets, grandchildren. And I did actually read or hear someone say, in my act as a coping mechanism, if it's their private little hobby, it gets them through the day, it gets them through their week. 

And it's certainly not something grandiose and ambitious like it is perceived in the West. So yeah, do you think for the most part, it is something small and private for most Japanese?

Ted: I think you make a couple of distinctions here. So let's talk about work first. So yarigai is something that's worth doing. So yarigai ga aru shigoto, what's worth doing is something that makes you feel good and pays the rent. 

Kore wa ikigai, that's a job that pays the rent that feels good to him, but then maybe contributes to the world, helps cure cancer or whatever, right? And so that's Ikigai. 

And then we're talking about people who have what I'd call soul crushing jobs, but the Japanese just kind of seemed to grin and bear it. Their ikigai could be their hobby, right?

In obon, all these construction worker guys are pushing these like two-storey high floats through the streets and playing flutes and stuff and drinking alcohol and just going nuts. 

And so that's their once a year pressure release ball, so that's their ikigai. So yeah, ikigai can be a lot of different things. It can be the hobby that gets you through a nine to five job.

It can be the ones like you work like a dog and you sweat, and then once a year, you're on the festival, holding fireworks in your hand and getting burned up, but you don't care because this is the one day of the year you feel alive.

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