So I stumbled upon this Japanese concept called “Ikigai” (生き甲斐, pronounced ee-kee-gah-ee) the other day and have been thinking a lot about it lately. This phrase means finding your true purpose and passion in life. It’s finding the thing that you get excited to go do each day, or it’s your happy reason to get out of bed in the morning. The great thing about this concept is that it is unique to all of us. We each have our own passions and feelings of purpose. And that diversity is what I think is so amazing.
Sometimes we meet those people who are living their passions, and they have such a zeal for life that is it awe inspiring. My husband is one of those people. He knew since he was a kid that he wanted to be an artist. And he was just stubborn enough to devote his every waking second to that dream. It took years and years of hard work, but eventually his stubbornness paid off and he landed his dream job making art every day.
It’s so inspiring to me to hear stories like these, because it fills me with hope and optimism for the future. I mean, wouldn’t it be great if we could all find our Ikigai?
For some, finding their Ikigai isn’t obtaining a dream they’ve had since they were little. Sometimes people ask me about how I found my dream and how I obtained it. The road of life is different for everyone, but I thought I would try to write down a little bit about this search for anyone looking for their true passion or purpose in life.
To help find your own reason or purpose, many professionals suggest starting with these four questions to get you thinking about your true purpose or passion.
- What do you love?
- What are you good at?
- What does the world need from you?
- What can you get paid for?
In the book, “The Mindful Entrepreneur” author Michael E. Gerber actually covers this very topic. (Yes, I realize this is a business book, but it actually dives into self reflection and self discovery quite a bit.) In the book Michael asks the main character to reflect on what he would want his grandchildren to say about him at his funeral.
Now hang on, I know this sounds bizarre, but bear with me. Michael asks his character to think about what they would say beyond the “he was a great man” or “he was my favorite grandpa” stuff and really dig deep. Dig into what you would want people to say about your life, how you lived it, and what impact it had on others. Michael, and myself, are firm believers that passion and purpose come through helping others. Now, how you do that is uniquely you. You might bring joy to people through your amazing art, or you might help people by being a veterinarian and making people’s pets better. Your passion and purpose are all your own. But it might be a valuable exercise to try and visualize what others would say about you and your life years from now.
Another friend of mine is a religious shepherd who helps guide people. Much of what they do revolves around helping people find inner peace. So I asked my friend this question to try and get a more spiritual viewpoint, and their main point of advice is to think about what gets you excited when you wake up in the morning. What is the first thing you think about? Or what brings that big, happy smile to your face? That is a great starting point to try and determine what your passion or purpose may be in life.
And don’t worry if you need to take some time to think about these things. This is a subject that only you can answer, so be sure to be kind to yourself as you set out on this journey of self discovery. And don’t worry if it takes some time. A family friend didn’t find her true purpose until she was 57 years old. It’s never too late to head down the road to a more fulfilling life.
I believe in you!
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