Feeling A Sense of Purpose

People in the West incorporate ikigai with something grand -- achieving big goals in life. However, for the Japanese people, ikigai can be anything that makes you feel alive.

Venture capitalist, Yohei Nakajima, shares his definition of ikigai: it is all about feeling a sense of purpose.

Nick: Let's begin talking about this amazing blog post you wrote. You write that there are words in the Japanese language that have shaped the way you think and ikigai was one of these words, and I felt you really encapsulated ikigai in this one blog post.

So if you were pushed to provide a one-sentence definition on ikigai, do you think you could do that?

Yohei: Yes. I think it's about a sense of purpose, feeling a sense of purpose. I specifically say feeling a sense of purpose separate from purpose because it is used casually.

I can imagine being on a fishing boat with a friend and seeing the waves and seeing the sun and catching a fish and looking over and saying, Wow, this really gives me a sense of ikigai -- the sense of purpose, living in a moment that makes you feel alive.

That's what I think ikigai is about, it's the sense of having a purpose and a sense of living, a sense of being present. I think for some people it can tie to your actual purpose in life if you do find one, but I don't think it has to be that by any means.

Nick: It's interesting that you describe it as a sense of purpose. Something I discovered is there's another word ikigai-kan which is ikigai feeling or ikigai awareness. 

That really helped me understand that it's the feeling of ikigai that you want to experience. And that you do experience it in these moments where you may be connected to nature, or you have intimacy with someone.