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Ikigai: the Search for Meaning

The search for meaning is inherent in the human being. In Japan there is even a specific word to define the importance of having a purpose in life: Ikigai. The Ikigai refers to the individual motivation, the one that makes us get out of bed every morning and that gives us the joy of living.

There is no direct English translation. Ikigai does not need to be conducive to fame and fortune. It is simply the priority around which everything else (often unconsciously) revolves.

For some, especially artists, this sense of dedication is related to their vocation. There are few things as fulfilling as doing meaningful work, but even those who do not have a career-related Ikigai find purpose in the daily routine.

Ken Mogi, in his book The Little Book of Ikigai -The secret Japanese way to live a happy and long life, tells us that Ikigai is made by five pillars:

  1. Starting small
  2. Releasing yourself
  3. Harmony and sustainability
  4. The joy of little things
  5. Being in the here and now

A basic idea of Ikigai is to be in the flow. Do you remember when you were a child, you were playing and your mom was calling you for lunch? You did not want to go because you did not want to stop playing , you liked playing so much and it was always too early for you. Time flew away so fast and you did not even realise it.

Being in the flow is like that. It means being in harmony with the elements within ourselves and those in the outside world. It means also paying attention to the chances that life offers us.

Ikigai‘s greatest secret is to accept ourselves as we are, with the unique traits we received when we were born.

“I love and accept myself as I am” is a positive statement that I have been repeating for years. You are a unique and unrepeatable individual who must find your own way among the obstacles of life.

Try to answer these questions:

  1. Which are the small things that make you feel good?
  2. Which are the small things that help you facing your day?

Happy to hear your small things!

This post was originally posted on my personal blog

colorful cutouts of the word purpose
Purpose – Photo by Magda Ehlers on

13 thoughts on “Ikigai: the Search for Meaning

  1. The little things that make me happy are birdsong, having my cat curl up on my lap in the evening, seeing the sun glitter on the surface of water, the smell of freshly baked bread, the taste of a good hot cup of tea after finishing the housework.

  2. Some little things that make me happy: Robert’s smile, hearing from my children, sunshine, rain, wildlife, wildflowers, the ocean, observing acts of kindness, delicious meals, blogging. 🙂

  3. Loved this, Cristiana! Thank you for sharing! “Ikigai‘s greatest secret is to accept ourselves as we are, with the unique traits we received when we were born.” 🙏

  4. Little things that make me happy~when my children accept my help, when my dogs get excited over their daily game of fetch, when I accept all in my life even the hard days for then the next day is much brighter! Thanks for this inspirational blog…pax Victoria

  5. Love this post and thank you for the introduction to Ikigai and Ken Mogi’s book. For me I think the small things that make a difference are directly related to the flow. It’s the little things that go well without resistance that make me know I’m right where I should be that give me a delightful zing!

    Thanks, as always, for a delightful and inspiring post, Cristiana

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