Ikigai – A first introduction

As part of my project on Self Leadership, I am researching the Japanese concept of Ikigai and just finished reading “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life,” by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles.

In terms of learning about Ikigai, this book offers only a cursory introduction. The authors start off by introducing the term itself and correspond the term to the French concept of ‘raison d’être’. Our ‘ikigai’ is our reason for getting up in the morning. It is the intersection of what we love, what we are good at, what we can be paid for and what the world needs.  It is, according to the authors, also similar to logotherapy and has its roots in Morita therapy. Morita therapy’s principles include discovering your life’s purpose, your ikigai.

One way to find your ikigai is to use the principles of Flow (from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book: Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience). By reflecting and listing on what activities in your life make you enter Flow, you can get a better idea of what your ikigai is. Ask yourself what these activities have in common, why do they help you enter a state of Flow. 

The authors also connect the concept of ikigai to having increased resilience and anti-fragility. People with a clearly defined ikigai follow their passion and never give up.

For my project, the most beneficial takeaways are an introduction to the concept of ikigai and the connection to resilience. I come away from the book with a need to read further and better understand the concept.  This book is more about how to live a long life than about ikigai per se.