Ikigai: A Creative Life of Passion and Purpose

people on train ikigai

It is natural for humans to strive for satisfaction and look for a purpose. But sometimes we get caught in the cycle of achieving things that don’t bring us any satisfaction in the long run. This is common in people of all ages. We often make fun of the saying “what is life?” But for real, what does your life truly mean to you?

Unfortunately, some follow and build their passions unrealistically, then wind up feeling discouraged when their dreams don’t materialize. Others settle to careers that bring them money and status but not emotionally fulfilling. In both cases, over time, the sense of purpose can begin to fade.

Different cultures and beliefs can offer a valuable alternative perspective on what happiness truly is, or could be. There are a lot of insights we might consider, and Ikigai appears to be the next concept we can turn to.


Combining the Japanese words iki, meaning life and gai, meaning value or worth, Ikigai is essentially about finding your purpose in life. It is not more than figuring out your own social identity, but it is seeking purpose in everything you do.

There are other words that use kai: yarigai or hatarakigai which means the value of what you’re doing and the value of what you’re working for. Ikigai can be thought of as a comprehensive concept that incorporates such values in life.

It may be hard to know if you’re pursuing your life purpose but it is much more difficult in doing things without any purpose at all. Without being philosophical at all, having no purpose in what you do may waste up your time, energy and life’s happiness.

ikigai chart

Ikigai is when all four criteria are satisfied; what you are good at, what you love, what you can be paid for and what the world needs. According to the diagram, the intersection of what you are good at and what you can be paid for is your profession. The intersection of what the world needs and what you love is your mission. Sometimes three of the criteria overlap, like the case where your passion (what you are and what you love) and your mission (what you love and what the world needs) overlap. In that case, you have “delight and fullness, but no wealth.”

The co-author of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, Hector Garcia writes, “Just as humans have lusted after objects and money since the dawn of time, other humans have felt dissatisfaction at the relentless pursuit of money and fame and have instead focused on something bigger than their own material wealth. This has over the years been described using many words and practices, but always hearkening back to the central core of meaningfulness in life.”

employees eating at a gastro pub ikigai

For the Japanese, one’s Ikigai has nothing to do with one’s income. In 2010, the Central Research Services conducted research based on 2,000 Japanese men and women. Only 31% of recipients considered work as their Ikigai. Someone’s value in life can be work — but is certainly not limited to that.

A psychiatrist Mieko Kamiya explains that Ikigai as a word itself is similar to the word happiness but it has subtle differences in its nuance. Ikigai is what allows you to look forward to the future even if you’re in despair because you have a purpose.


No career journey is easy, but a great attitude is bound to take you somewhere.


Now, the underlying question is, how can you find your purpose?

Howard Thurman, a philosopher, and civil rights leader said, “Ask what makes you come alive and go do it.” … “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it- because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 

Reflection is the key to finding your Ikigai. First, one must understand itself especially the situation you are currently in. As you reflect on yourself, you may balance your limits and desires to be able to curate a goal that brings out the best in you. Sometimes, it may seem that once felt right might not feel right two years down the road. Speak to yourself and speak to the people around you too.

Here are some guiding questions to help you find your Ikigai;

  1. What do I love doing? What are my hobbies? What am I doing in my free time?
  2. What am I good at? Where do my strengths lie? What are my hidden talents?
  3. What does the world need? What would be the one thing that I would like to change? What can I do to make this world a better place?
  4. What can I get paid for? What jobs or positions spark my interest? (Hult.edu)


Fulfillment is one of the main priorities in this fast-paced world. Humans still struggle in finding what they are meant to do. The road in finding your Ikigai may be filled with challenges and mistakes but it is about the journey that brings meaning and purpose to your life.

As you take your journey in finding your true calling, have your space designed on where the sense of meditation and comfort are always invited.

Tokyo Grand Renovation (TGR) is a Japanese luxury design and build firm that transforms residential and commercial spaces alike to have functional and splendid interiors.

For inquiries, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 832 16 76, or send an e-mail at  info@tgr.com.ph.

TGRはマカティの高級インテリアデザイン、リノベーション、会社です。TGRは 住宅および商業 スペースの為のデザインと建築を提供 し ております。お問い合わせは 、02832 1676 にお電話いただくか、 電子メール info@tgr.com.ph へ送信 お願いします。


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