Find Your Ikigai: 5 Steps Japanese People Use to Lead a Happier Life

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Find Your Ikigai: 5 Steps Japanese People Use to Lead a Happier Life

Ikigai: This word is Japanese and is defined as “our reason for being” or “the reason for being”

Having a life (iki, in Japanese) in harmony with your desires and expectations (kai, in Japanese) is a process of self-knowledge that covers areas of both personal and professional life.

If you are a person who has already found their purpose, who works with motivation and is happy with what they have, then you have probably already found your ikigai. But if that is not the case yet, this article we will explain why it is important to know your ikigai as well as 5 steps to find it.



Ikigai is mainly the reason why we get up every morning, what motivates us to face and make the most of each day, it is the positive something that wakes us up at peace with ourselves. In short, ikigai is something that gives meaning to our lives and is worth living for.


In short, ikigai is something that gives meaning to our lives and is worth living for.


Right now you may be thinking, “How do I find my ikigai?” Have you ever experienced this feeling? Finding our ikigai is often not easy and requires introspection and internal listening. But we all have it and we all can find it.


This Japanese word is very present in Okinawa, the archipelago of Japan. It is an area known for the longevity of its inhabitants, who enjoy excellent health. One of the reasons why people’s lifespans extend 100 years or longer is that the people of Okinawa know what they like to do and dedicate themselves to these activities throughout their lives.

To further understand the the secret of long life in Okinawa, where its inhabitants live more than 100 years, is to understand ikigai. The main challenge in finding our ikigai is understanding why we want what we want. Many times we get so caught up in our material desires, ambitious goals and day-to-day wishes that we forget to ask ourselves why we pursue our dreams. Why do you want that new jacket? Why do you want to lose weight or gain muscle? Why do you want to travel the world or visit Thailand?

Understanding the reasons why we get moving on a daily basis is very important because it provides us with an internal motivation that directs us to achieve those goals. But let’s not confuse this meaningful motivation with the fleeting version we get after watching a motivational video or an inspiring life story. The internal feeling is much more lasting – it is the one that will inspire us when the going gets tough. Whoever manages to find this reason to do things and act, finds ikigai.

Ken Mogi in his book “Ikigai: The Five Steps to Finding Your Life Purpose and Being Happier” explains a way to find our ikigai. Let’s review these 5 steps to discover and cultivate the reason our ikigai.




Many times, we try to improve various aspects of our lives at the same time. Sooner or later juggling becomes so complicated that we cannot sustain everything at the same time. For this reason, the first piece of advice is to start trying little by little. Choose a single area of ​​your life, and give it your dedicated attention and consistent focus. Little by little, you will be able to achieve the goals that you set for yourself in that aspect of your life and you will then be able to advance onto others of your life to focus on.

In this process, you will discover which aspects of your life are of most valuable to you, which activities you enjoy the most, and how you want to spend your time. You will in essence, discover your priorities.




The second step to find your ikigai is to free yourself from ideas that do not belong to you and are often imposed on you by family, friends or society itself. For example, do you really want to have a bigger house and a newer car or is that a belief we have been repeatedly told that we should want?

Your idea of ​​happiness may not really be aligned with these things and you should allow yourself to question whether it was really your idea or a preconceived idea.

To find your true reason for being, you must let go of what they will say and carefully reflect on yourself to really find what you want in life.




There is no point in being clear about what your ikigai is if it does not give you peace and harmony and cannot be sustained over time. Your ikigai should be the combination of these four elements:

  • What you love
  • What the world needs
  • What you are good at
  • What makes you earn enough money to live

If you manage to find an activity that meets these four qualities, you will have found your reason for living.




A mistake that many people make when designing life plans is to set big goals and condition their happiness to fulfilling them.

We feel that our happiness is conditioned by the result and by reaching that goal. Meanwhile, we forget to enjoy the process, and we are not happy about the small goals that help us to be closer to that final goal. For example, you are studying for a degree and you think that only when you graduate will you be truly happy; and you do not stop to appreciate the exams you have passed, the friendships you have made along the way or the difficulties you have had to face. Thus, we focus on a state of lack and dissatisfaction, a feeling far removed from ikigai.

Soon after you get to graduate, you will look for other goals. Your joy will pass, and you will establish new and greater goals to which you will once again condition your happiness. It is an endless cycle.
There is a smarter way to live life. Learn to rejoice in the little things. Our life has many more common moments than great moments. If you only allow yourself to rejoice when you accomplish great things, you are dooming yourself to a life filled with dissatisfaction with a few fleeting moments of happiness.




Finally, learn to live in the present moment. Learn to enjoy the whole journey, and not just the end goal. Ask yourself, am I enjoying my present? Or am I just stuck between the past and the future?

Many Eastern philosophies warn us of the risk of abandoning the now, of ceasing to live in the present moment. It is always good to have clear objectives and goals, but not to focus on them so much that they prevent us from living in the now. If we forget this, we will only be destined to suffer.

We have the habit of always wanting to anticipate the future, wanting more and more, or remembering the past. If we are in the here and now completely, there would be no “wanting” and “not wanting”. Just fullness.

For this reason, enjoy each of the moments that you live day by day, even if you have not yet fulfilled your life goals. Feel happy when you make mistakes, when you learn, when you are with your family or simply when you wake up every morning.

With these 5 steps that you have read, you can look within yourself to find your reason for living. Remember to assess your sense of happiness and purpose every step of the way. By seeking growth that suits your sense of purpose, you also pursue health and happiness.

And you, do you already know what your ikigai is?

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