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Ikigai – What makes a good life?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Is it spending our days with those we love? Is it living out our passions? Is it safety and security? How about having good health? Living where you want? Or loving what you do?

What is it that makes a good life?

The answer to this ubiquitous question may hold the secret to happiness, and the Japanese concept of ikigai is one possible explanation.

Ikigai means a reason for living and is a Japanese formula for happiness. It is a blending of passions and talents with compensated actions that help the world.

According to Japanese tradition, you must have ikigai to live a good life.

Ikigai consists of four major components:

            1. What you love

            2. What you’re good at

            3. What the world needs

            4. What you can be paid for

What you love

Think about your passions and interests. Why do you love them so much?

While there is often a multitude of answers, one primary reason should be because they allow you to be in the present moment, encouraging you to stop thinking and just enjoy living.

Such passions may be:

            – singing

            – dancing

            – reading

            – writing

            – painting

            – movement

            – outdoor activity

What you’re good at

Whether it’s something that comes naturally or a skill that has taken years to master, ikigai motivates you to overcome obstacles and improve your competency.

In some companies, this is called strength management, in which employees are placed in certain roles and groomed based on their inherent prowess.

Consider what talents you have that can be helpful in the world:

Is it communicating with others? How about attention to details? Do you know a lot about history? Are you an expert with numbers? Is writing something you enjoy? Or does public speaking energize you?

Discover what you are good at to develop your ikigai.

What the world needs

What is your purpose in the world?

It’s easy to wonder what the point of certain things is. Particularly when it comes to a job, going about day-to-day actions with no reason or direction makes life depressing.

Finding work that helps others and contributes to the greater good is part of having a purposeful life. Resolve to help the world through your strengths and skills – whether that be in your everyday job or through another opportunity – to bring meaning and fulfillment to your life.

What you can be paid for

There may be many things you would love to do every day, but it’s hard to be happy with past-due bills piling up on the counter.

An important part of ikigai is to be fairly compensated for your work. It’s important to not only feel worthy, but to also be monetarily valued. 

While this may take some time, creativity, and determination, it’s essential to evaluate what you love, what you are good at, and what the world needs with the opportunity for earnings.