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IKIGAI - THE JAPANESE PHILOSOPHY OF MEANING


The Japanese invented this philosophy which stands for “reason for being”. In common language, this word means "the feeling of having something worth getting up for in the morning". This term is also connected to the word “flow”, which, from a psychological point of view means feeling a complete absorption in a task or activity, where one forgets space and time and nothing else matters. Ikigai helps us to identify the necessary ingredients to get into this flow state and to make our pursuit sustainable and useful for the world.

For example, when you have a job that you don't enjoy, it could lead to the feeling of uselessness, hopelessness and the idea that you´re a failure in life. Therefore according to the philosophy of Ikigai you have to change two aspects: the mindset and the circumstances. Because if you´re doing the right thing with the right mindset, you´re going to enter the state of flow.


Ikigai consists of four dimensions.

- Firstly, you need to pick something that you´re good at

- Secondly, it must be a thing that you love to do

- Thirdly, the world should need it

- Lastly, you have to get paid


The following part discusses each dimension separately.


Everyone has a different skill set. Sometimes the skills are based on the talent of a person and sometimes people are good in a specific area, because they learnt the needed knowledge. These qualities can lie in different areas such as IQ, physical strength or particularly high empathy. The problem is that many people try to improve the things they´re bad at. According to Ikigai this behaviour leads to the feeling that you´re constantly repairing yourself and in addition reject the things you´re naturally good at! But actually the way to success would be defined in improving the skills we´re good at so we can become masters at it.


On the second point, you face a fundamental problem, because you may know what you enjoy, but quite often there are parts of the activity that you like less. So after you have basically figured out what fulfills you, the task is to change the parts that give you less pleasure, so that you can also experience a flow state in it. Outsourcing could be an option too. Anyway, the key at this point is mainly the mindset.


To fulfill the idea of Ikigai you should always keep in mind what the world needs, so that you cam be a necessary part of it and the world can benefit from you in some way. Sometimes you should look at the world from a wider perspective to find out how you can make this world a better place.


Contrary to the assumption of many people that money has no influence on a person's happiness, Ikigai assumes that your efforts have to be sustainable and must generate income. Otherwise it could happen that the activity you´re doing becomes more like a hobby and then this could lead to the situation, that you still have to do a job on the side of that hobby, you don´t like!


Moreover, it is interesting to see how different combinations of the elements can be interpreted. If you combine that what you love and what you´re good at, the result is “passion”. In contrast to that, a combination between doing something what the world needs and what you love results in a “mission”. Furthermore a “vocation” could be the result from an activity you get paid for and the world needs and last but not least will the combination between something what you´re good at and what you can be paid for lead to a “profession”.


To understand that only all the four dimensions combined will lead to Ikigai, you can take the “mission” as an example. You will quickly understand, that a “mission” alone doesn´t necessarily lead to a fulfilling life, as it could happen that you are not able to pay the bills. Maybe you like what you´re doing but are not good at it. So you can say that a `reason for being` includes a mission, a passion, a vocation and a profession!

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