If you’ve never come across the phrase before, Ikigai is a Japanese concept that roughly translates as ‘reason for being.’ So what gets you up in the morning and, importantly, keeps you going.

And it’s a phrase that often crops up in research into the ‘Blue Zones’ – which are regions of the world where people live much longer than average – one of which is Okinawa, Japan.

There are several key characteristics shared by these regions – think diet, communities, physical activity, low stress levels and weather (thanks Wikipedia for the graphic below) and interestingly the concept of Ikigai is one of them.

Ikigai is about having a purpose, doing things of value and shaping the world around you. And this is seen to be so critical throughout life that Okinawan language doesn’t have a word for retirement! Its oldest residents all have reasons to get up in the morning that contribute to their societies and leave them feeling happy and satisfied.

So have a think about your own Ikigai. It might well change at different points in your life, but is there something that…

  • you love doing and are good at?
  • the world needs?
  • you can get paid for, or paid enough for that it’s worth it for your wellbeing?

Ikigai: the secret to a long and happy life

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