By GÜLSÜM GÜMÜŞ
Do you ever think about what you are doing with your life? What is your goal here? What do you mean to other people? Even if you think of these questions, are you able to answer them? Finding the meaning of your life is a whole journey where you get to know yourself better. There is a word that is used to define that purpose of your life: Ikigai. Ikigai isa commonly used Japanese word throughout the world which is used to describe a reason for being and the thing that gets you up in the morning. It is a combination of two Japanese words “iki” (生き) meaning “life”, and “gai” (甲斐) meaning “effect” or “worth” (“Ikigai”).
Many sociologists and scientists state that having an ikigai, a purpose to live for, can make you live longer and with more satisfaction. A research carried by Takeshi No Katei No Igaku, a Japanese TV program, and the scientists they cooperated with in September 2017 might help you understand this point a little better. The mentioned scientists organized a research on seven people, who were in their 90s or early 100s, from a town called Kyoto in Kyotango, which is famous for “having a population that has three times more residents over the age of 100 compared to the average of the rest of the country”(Dayman, “Ikigai: The Japanese Concept of Finding Purpose in Life”). The seven people who went through blood tests and some other health check-ups were thoroughly examined from the morning till dawn. As the study went on, the scientists realised a common thing among them; they were participants of a hobby they were really interested in. This program can be considered as the proof that having this one thing that gives you satisfaction whenever you participate in may help you live a longer and a happier life.
According to the experts of this term, ikigai is the combination of what you are good at, what you love, what the world needs and what you can be paid for; therefore, it may take some time to find yours. Even though the word is not used very often in my mother tongue Turkish, its meaning is in every person’s mind. “Why am I living?” In the YouTube video called “#IWAKEUPFOR | Ikigai Concept” uploaded by Nescafé Arabia, several different Japanese people share their ikigai. For instance, a dance teacher in the video says her ikigai is watching her students improve whereas an old lady’s is seeing her grandchildren and having them visit her. The answer, therefore, varies from one person to another as everybody has different interests and talents.
While some people are lucky to know the reason of their existence, some do not have a clear idea of their purpose in life. I am happy to say that I am not one of them. I have become sure of my ikigai in 2020 when I had lots of time to think and discover more about myself. My reason of being is my constant will to learn. I know I will always find tranquillity in finding more about history, cultures, an important figure in a specific field, in learning how to play an instrument or a new language. Reading a book, listening to an album, and finding out what the songs mean to my inner world also count as learning for me. Whenever I become an anxiety filled mess, curl up inside my private tortures or feel feckless, clinging onto the idea that there is so much more to discover and know about in this world keeps me going. My love for art enables me to find joy in the littlest things. It drives my mind from all fears and worries. I might financially benefit from my desire to learn in the future as well. I could become a teacher since having someone to learn something through the research I have made my whole life would be very satisfactory. Frankly, just the idea of it fills my heart with pleasure.
The importance of figuring your ikigai out is crucial. Knowing your reason of being will help you in so many situations. When you are feeling down, when you cannot help thinking all the things you do are in vain or when you think there is no meaning and no source of motivation to do anything in this life, holding on to that one purpose will help you feel that everything you do is worth it.
Dayman, Lucy. “Ikigai: The Japanese Concept of Finding Purpose in Life”. savvytokyo.com, 15 Jan. 2020, https://bit.ly/2R5FXVz. Accessed 29 May 2021.
“#IWAKEUPFOR | The Ikigai Concept.” YouTube, uploaded by Nescafé Arabia, 22 Feb. 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X7LQZXllUk. Accessed 29 May 2021.
“Ikigai” Wikipedia.com, 29 May 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ikigai. Accessed 30 May 2021.