Ikigai Varies Uniquely for Each Individual

Kei Tsuda believes that ikigai is individually unique, shaped by our values, and subject to change as we evolve over time.

Ikigai cannot be borrowed or imitated

Nick: So we should mention in her book, she wrote six characteristics of ikigai that kind of help the reader understand what a source of ikigai is. And they go quite deep. So what one that stood out for you that is interesting? What one do you like?

Kei: I think the point she makes, there are two points, sorry. So the number four and number five. So she says, as a point number five, that ikigai is entirely individualistic, and it cannot be borrowed or imitated. That's the very strong point.

And the reason why I pair that with number five is there is a strong correlation. So the fifth point she brings up is ikigai holds the nature of establishing a value system, in the heart of the person who possesses it. And when I read that part, I mean, I got a shock, positive shock.

And the reason is, before reading her book, I told you earlier, I started kind of organizing my ikigai and how I would go about, like, visualizing and framing my ikigai. And what I was doing, essentially was I was trying to establish a value system of my own. And I was a huge aha moment for me.

And if you think about it, why do you have to establish your own system? Because it is entirely individualistic, how we view our values, how we view what's more valuable or not, it depends. Most of us have different upbringing, different encounters, the events that shapes your value, and then another factor is that value start to shift or change over time.

So this individual ikigai also evolves over time. If you try to stuff that together into a somewhat very rigid framework, and I think the Venn diagram somewhat tends to be that way, because the idea of the Venn diagram is to force people to think in terms of number of elements, and the famous one happens to have four elements.

And I think you kind of hinted it earlier, Nick, we can debate that the Venn diagram, on and on and on, like, what should we put in the middle? But then the fact that it's a Venn diagram, that's not going to change.

My point is, I don't think, I mean, if the Venn diagram works with people, poor, great, I don't have anything against that. But I think these value systems need to be framed up a little bit more loose, malleable, changeable framework. And as the realization, I realized that Mieko Kamiya has already called it out more than 50 years ago.