Who is Your Ikigai?

Ikigai is not limited to work-related goals that we have in life; it can also be about the meaningful relationships that we build. We define ikigai as the reason why we get up in the morning, hence, it is not only restricted to material things or the goals that we have.

Nick Kemp shares how our relationships with others may also be considered as ikigai.

So if we understand ikigai as the reason why we get up in the morning, or as the things that make our life worth living, what’s missing in this Venn diagram?

I would say it’s people, because it’s often the relationships and the people in our lives that make life worth living, and give us a sense of meaning. So this is where this Western interpretation is flawed. 

So we often use the phrase “find your ikigai,” or “what’s your ikigai?” But maybe a better question could be: who is your ikigai?

So I’m sure for many of you, that’s your children, parents, your friends, even your co-workers, your mentors, and it’s often in our relationships that we feel a strong sense of significance, a strong sense of purpose.

Because some of our relationships are embodied as role. You can have a role as a parent, you can have a role as a mentor, you can even have a role as the prankster friend, or you can have a role as the person to rely on.

So this is what’s missing in this Western interpretation: the importance of relationships and roles. Another thing is: research has revealed in Japan that many Japanese, in particular, university students, that their ikigai is to feel needed. 

That if they’re told that they’re needed, that alone is a source of ikigai. I’m sure most of us would agree, we do want to feel significant in a meaningful way. Because we all want to contribute to the lives of others in a positive way.

So there’s probably a few things to learn: that it’s often people are our ikigai, but also we can make others feel ikigai by telling them they’re important to us and that we need them. So if you’re happy to share, tell me: who is your ikigai?


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