Ikigai Doesn’t Have to be Extravagant

How would you define ikigai? For Dr. Yasuhiro Kotera, ikigai doesn't have to be something lavish; it is more on the daily experiences that we have that provide joy into our lives.

Nick: So let's touch on your definition. I think it's funny because I've just said earlier, we need to let go of definitions, now I'm asking you for a definition. So how would you describe ikigai? 

Yasuhiro: Okay, so Ikigai is this experiential sense that you are living your life, you're living on your mission, that kind of congruent, and also a coherent sense of experience, I think I call that as Ikigai. Then when we define words, it often sounds very extravagant. But Ikigai doesn't have to be extravagant.

Ikigai can exist in your daily life, for example, as Dr. Mogi said ikigai is everywhere, and I think it's important to pay attention to your internal experience of daily life, what makes you spark or what makes you feel like oh, this is inherently joyful, inherently fun, so Ikigai is experienced in daily life. 

Nick: I think this is really the biggest point about ikigai is this approach where we can approach it casually, in these small things, as Ken Mogi mentions, we don't have to make it out to be something big and grand.

Almost unattainable, like some sort of one life purpose. I mean, just doing something like this talking to you is a source of Ikigai. I really enjoy my podcast interviews, and I get to learn so much and connect.

So it's these things that make a big difference to our well-being, I think, in that context of daily living.

Yasuhiro: Yes, indeed. And also, coming back to what you said earlier, about beginner's mind, I practiced my mind enough in the practice of Zen. And through Zen, I have become more able to notice these kinds of amazing things in my daily life and embrace it. 

I think that's very important for well-being – just experience, just don't take it for granted. Experience great joys in your life. That's pretty important.