Do You Want To Know The Secret To A Happy Life? The Japanese Have Been Doing This For Centuries

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Do you want to know the secret to living a happy life? Well here it is! The Japanese discovered the answer to this ages ago, in the Heian period that ran from 793 to 1185, and this idea has been slowly gaining its popularity outside Japan recently. 

From the combination of Japanese words ‘Ikiru’ which means “to live,” and ‘Kai’ that is translated to “the realization of what one hopes for,” birthed the word Ikigai. Though there is no literal English translation, this concept means having a reason to live or a purpose in life, and adding a value to it. 

What is the one thing that makes you wake up in the morning and want to get out of bed? What do you feel you are good at? What could you live with doing day in and day out? That is your Ikigai.

The question that everybody is wondering though is, how do we find our purpose in life? Experts recommend asking yourself these four questions to get a better idea: 

  1. What do you love?
  2. What are you good at?
  3. What does the world need from you?
  4. What can you get paid for?

Try and identify the moments where you are so absorbed by doing one thing that you end up forgetting to even eat or take a break and drink water. It could be playing an instrument, painting or perhaps reading. The minute you lose yourself into doing something you feel so whole in, then you have found your Ikigai.

Gordon Matthews, professor and author of What Makes Life Worth Living?: How Japanese and Americans Make Sense of Their Worlds, explained to Telegraph that Ikigai can also be understood by learning about two other Japanese ideas – ‘ittaikan’ and ‘jiko jitsugen.’ These concepts refer to a sense to oneness, a commitment, a group or role. It also very much relates to reaching self-realization. He also said that ikigai will most likely improve your everyday life “because you will have something to live for”, but warns against thinking this will completely change your life: “Ikigai is not something grand or extraordinary. It’s something pretty matter-of-fact.”

Researchers have said that Ikigai can change depending on age, so do not stress that one thing that used to bring you happiness may change in time. What is your Ikigai? 

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