Edited by Nick Ebden
Two of the most important journeys for mankind are; to find the purpose of life and the secret of immortality. There are two regions where the life expectancy is over 100 years, they are known as the ‘Blue Zone.’ Researchers are looking for the secret of long life from demographic data collected in these regions;one of them is the Villagrande village on the island of Sardinia, but we are looking at the second one which is also an island! The average age of the people living in Okinawa is over 100 years and the secret of long life on Okinawa is the ‘Ikigai’ philosophy.
Ikigai; “Iki ” means life, and “Gai” means goal. combined they become Ikigai. It can be defined as the “Purpose of Life”. The best definition of Ikigai philosophy is undoubtedly; “something that gets you out of bed when you wake up in the morning”.
Now let’s all think about what makes us wake up in the morning? Work, responsibilities, children, breakfast etc we all need reasons to get out of bed. The Japanese prefer ikigai instead of the word; ‘ retirement’ . Ikigai is a philosophy that gives meaning to life and keeps its energies high. It is purely a person’s journey into himself, and in fact, to go over the idea of what will make him happy and what will get them up and out of bed in the morning and make it a way of life. According to the people of Okinawa, each individual has his own Ikigai, a kind of life purpose. Everyone’s personal journey is about seeking life’s goal, the search for Ikigai, is finding our reason for existence and discovering the kind of person we are.
In order to investigate Okinawa’s people, the “Aging Institute” (yes there is such an institution in the USA) conducted a survey. One of the questions they asked is; “What is your ikigai?” And the people of the island who participated in the survey gave the answer immediately! For example, the ikigai of the 102-year-old karate master is to specialize in martial arts even further. The ikigai of a 102-year-old is to take care of granddaughter of her grandson! Okinawa residents have no free time, the youngest is 83 years old, and the moments worth celebrating end.When they are 80% full from eating,they get up from the table,and eat fish three days a week. They are dealing with a vineyard garden and they really live their lives.
There are 4 basic questions to find your İkigai:
What do you love? (Passion)
What does the world need? (Your Mission)
What are you good at? (Your profession)
What you can be paid for? (Your vocation)
The point where all of these four elements meet shows our ikigai, the reason that brought us out of bed when we woke up in the morning. Finding our Ikigai is equivalent to finding the key to mindfullness, happiness and inner peace.
When we look at the Venn chart, there are places where each element intersects with the other and these are important:
If you have a job that you don’t like: you’re comfortable but feeling an emptiness in life.
You are making money but if you think it does not serve humanity: there is satisfaction, but the feeling of uselessness
If you don’t get paid enough: there is pleasure but no monetary comfort.
If you do what you are not specialised in: there is an excitement and contentment, but there is a sense of uncertainty.
Now randomly answer the first questions that come to your mind from the four questions, if the result satisfies you, you have ikigai and you are a happy person as well. If it does not satisfy, do not be upset because the inner journey of man lasts a lifetime ..
Four words intersect for the meaning of life: just İkigai!
With love 💝
Elif Gilbaz Ata