Inner Joy and Satisfaction Through Ikigai

Kouji Miki shares that for the Japanese, ikigai is not associated with money. Instead, it is something that brings them inner joy and satisfaction, irrespective of whether they receive recognition for it.

Ikigai isn't necessarily about societal necessity

Nick: This is interesting because our theme today, in a way, might even contradict this idea of meditation, because we're talking about AI and ikigai. And you have written several articles on AI and ikigai on medium.com in English, and I'd like to quote you. So let's start with ikigai, you write:

The Japanese definition of ikigai does not necessarily focus on being needed by society or earning money, but rather on an individual's inner joy and satisfaction, where the individual is genuinely excited and wants to continue the activity, no matter who stops him or her. This represents a unique understanding of ikigai that reflects the cultural background and values of Japan.”

So that’s interesting, especially tying it to Japan's cultural background and values. So do you want to talk about the values of Japan in the context of ikigai?

Kouji: Maybe two weeks ago, I happened to read an article about a person who is working for McDonald’s.

Nick: McDonald's, yeah. You sent me the video.

Kouji: As a cleaner, he is very active. Even if he is 95 years old.

Nick: 95? Very old.

Kouji: Actually, he got a job at the age of 90.

Nick: Oh, wow.

Kouji: It's almost five years. And according to this article, he's really enjoying his job, even if it is not a good salary and also it's night shift. But he's really enjoying. So in Japanese society, this is a type of ikigai.

So nobody says thank you about going to McDonald's. He is really focusing on his job cleaning the space, focusing only on one thing. So by reading this article, my ikigai is also very close to him. Because every year I set up big conference in Zen 2.0 in Kamakura City.

And there are many jobs: advertising, preparing a website, and negotiation with speakers, temples, and the city. And asking a sponsor from companies and selling the tickets, and many, many jobs. I am not in front of the participants, I have no chance to contact the participants, so nobody says thank you to me, but I'm really focusing on creating my conference.

So this is my ikigai, it's very close to the 95-year-old cleaner in McDonald’s.

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