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How to find your soul life purpose with Japanese concept of Ikigai

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

The word Ikigai is a term that comes from the Japanese culture, made of two words that could be translated as "a reason for living". It could be your sense of purpose in life or simply how you find meaning in your everyday activities. When you search for ikigai, it may seem like there are many options to choose from, but it's important to start with where you're at today.

So what does ikigai have to do with finding your soul life purpose?

how to find your purpose

1. What is ikigai and why it's important for a long and happy life

This Japanese concept is a way of thinking about what makes you happy and fulfilled in life.

According to the ikigai diagram, one's life's purpose is the sweet spot that lies at the intersection of four all areas:

  1. What you love doing

  2. What you're good at

  3. What the world needs

  4. What you can get paid for

Finding your own ikigai is important because it can help you figure out what you should be doing with your life. It's what makes life worth living and a way of finding meaning and purpose in everything you do.

Some people never find their ikigai and end up living lives of quiet depression. But if you're lucky enough to find yours, it can lead to a meaningful life of happiness and fulfilment.

2. How to find your ikigai

Finding your ikigai can be a lifelong journey, but there are some simple steps you can take to get started.

  1. Think about your passions: what are the activities that bring you joy and make you feel alive? This could be baking cakes or practicing your favourite sport, for example. Think about your passions with no judgment and note them down.

  2. Think about your talents and strengths: what are the things that you're naturally good at? Could you share these skills with others to make a difference in the world?

  3. Reflect on what brings you fulfilment: what are the things that make you feel like your life has a purpose and true meaning? These are the things that give you a sense of satisfaction and happiness, could be spending time with animals, doing some charity work, selling your own name it.

  4. Ask yourself what the world needs: what are the problems that need to be solved? Could you use your talents and passions to make a difference in these areas?

  5. Find ways to combine your passions, talents, and desires to create something unique that only you can offer, and... Bingo! You found your ikigai.

When you find your ikigai, you'll feel like you're finally doing what you're meant to do in life. It's a satisfying feeling that will lead you to a happier and more fulfilling life overall.

3. How to live a life with purpose

At some point in your life, you may begin to wonder whether your purpose is to work five days a week, for eight hours straight, doing a draining job you probably don't even like. Or to spend your whole life in the same place, doing the same things, on autopilot, wishing time would pass as quickly as possible.

These are hard, but necessary reflections to ignite the spark to start looking for a happier life. First, you need to understand if what you are doing is right for you and your emotional well-being. If it is not, you should change and move in a new direction.

The problem is that many people get stuck in the first step: they know they are unhappy, but they don't know what they should do to change the situation. They don't know their personal Ikigai, their reason for living.

Finding your soul life purpose

“Our ikigai is different for all of us, but one thing we have in common is that we are all searching for meaning”

H. Garcia, Ikigai

4. How to apply ikigai to your everyday life

According to the Western psychology, Realisation (the fulfilment of our personal potential in life) it's not an overnight process: it takes time, so you shouldn't expect to find your ikigai right away.

Start small, by thinking about what you love to do, finding that activity that truly gives you joy just for the sake of doing it, that inspires you, that you do without any kind of effort. The answer to this question is the first step to finding your life's purpose.

Here are some tips for applying ikigai to your everyday life:

  1. Get clear on what you love and brings you joy. When you're doing something you love, it shows in your attitude and demeanour.

  2. We all have unique talents and gifts that we can share with the world. When you play to your strengths, you naturally feel more confident and capable, so consider all of them and how they can be at service for others. Everyone has something to offer, no matter how small it may seem.

  3. Live in the present moment. One of the best ways to find contentment is to focus on the here and now. Enjoy the simple things in life and savour each moment as it comes.

  4. Connect with others who share your ikigai. There's strength in numbers! Find others who are pursuing their own ikigai and support each other. You will be amazed on how powerful it is to belong to the same "tribe" of like-minded people that support each other!

5. Tips for finding your own ikigai

Finding one's ikigai is not an easy task. You can easily find something you are good at and enjoy, but often you can't (or will not) turn it into work. Or again, maybe you are very good at your profession, but unfortunately, you don't find any pleasure in it.

To move from theory to practice, here is a fun exercise:

  • Take a blank sheet of paper and create four overlapping circles (mission, passion, profession, and talent) and start to fill them with words

  • List 10 activities that you like

  • Cross out the activities you are not (very) good at

  • Cross out activities that are not useful to other people (this is the case with many hobbies such as collecting coins or watching movies).

  • Identify among the remaining activities, those you could turn into a profession (if it is running, maybe you could become a sports coach).

6. The benefits of having a life purpose

At this point, you should have a better understanding of the role that ikigai plays in the pursuit of a happy and long life. Your ikigai is gets you up in the morning and keeps you going even when things are tough. It is what makes you feel alive.

Some people are lucky enough to find their ikigai early on in life and pursue it with passion and focus. They live a life of great satisfaction and achievement.

Others may need help finding their purpose, though. They go through life in a "dormant" state of mind, without ever really knowing what they are meant to do or why they are here. This can lead to a feeling of emptiness and dissatisfaction.

No matter when you find your ikigai, it is never too late to start asking yourself the right questions and living with purpose. It takes a lot of courage to do a "life audit" and take the decision to go after your passions and dreams, but it is a process that brings new meaning and joy to your life.

Moving forward

If you wish to know more about your ikigai, try taking this online test, check Héctor García's best-seller on the topic, or enjoy this inspiring Ted Talk by Tim Tamashiro.

Lastly, whenever you are ready to take the next step in your healing process, or don't even know where to start with it, remember that our healers are just one click away. Check out our full directory of coaches and healers here.

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