japanese woman sitting on ground smiling

Ikigai: Discovering the Meaning of Life

Forget hygge, move over Lagom – there’s a new lifestyle trend for 2018 which is leaving the rest in the dust.

Ikigai is the Japanese recipe for happiness that promises to reveal the secret for a healthy and happy life. Japan famously boasts one of the highest standards of living in the world, as well as the highest life expectancy of any country. Clearly, they are doing something right! Ikigai aims to shed light on the positive lifestyle habits that have allowed Japanese people to enjoy life to the fullest.

The word ‘Ikigai’ comes from a melding of two different Japanese words. ‘Iki’ means ‘life’ and ‘gai’ can be translated to mean ‘values’ – in other words, Ikigai is about finding the meaning to life. This is something that we are all searching for, in one way or another, but can Ikigai really deliver on this promise? There is no easy solution, but rather a process which requires lengthy introspection and self-exploration to reveal our own personal ‘meaning of life’. Ikigai is all about finding the balance between doing what we love and are good at and combining this passion with something that there is a need for and which we can make a living from. Not an easy task, necessarily, but one which brings great potential benefit. After all, when you can get paid for doing what you love you have a great advantage over the vast majority of people.

While the path to achieving these goals may be a long and winding one, there are some concrete rules you can follow on the way to finding your own personal ‘Ikigai’. These rules appear in the book “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Healthy Life” which quickly became an LA Times best-seller upon its release. The rules which feature in this book can be distilled down to those which focus on physical health in combination with mental well-being. Staying active for the whole of your life is seen as being crucial, as is keeping fit and not over-eating. The book highlights the positive mental benefits of surrounding yourself with good friends and learning to live in the moment rather than dwelling over the past or worrying about the future. And don’t forget to take the time to give thanks for all of the good things in life, instead of just taking them for granted.

You will find some helpful infographics about Ikigai here, and perhaps these will spark an interest in discovering even more about this fascinating approach to happy and healthy living. Above all, Ikigai is about being proactive and taking positive steps to make your life better, and by reading this far you have already completed the first step on your journey!

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