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Ikigai – Are you excited to wake up each morning?

Ikigai

By Nur Choudhury

When was the last time you woke up and felt excited? Think long and hard.

Now let’s try that again! Think back to a time when you woke up and felt excited… but there was nothing special about that particular day? No holiday, no celebration, just another ordinary day but you’re so excited that you can’t wait to get out of bed.

Sounds crazy right? Well that is the feeling (and meaning) of Ikigai [(生き甲斐) pronounced Ick-ee-guy] a term the Japanese call ‘a reason for being’ which originated from the Japanese island of Okinawa.

To many people Ikigai is effectively the same as searching for the meaning of life. Now as Muslims we understand and know what the meaning of life is. But here I want to touch upon finding your place and role in the grand scheme of things. Finding the thing that brings you purpose, happiness, and satisfaction.

Ikigai is a deep and enduring search into one’s self to find ones passion and drive. What will make your life worthwhile and gives you that joy on a daily basis. It’s very important to note that Ikigai doesn’t mean your career or financial status only, it is supposed to represent all the different aspects of your life. So your career, relationships, hobbies, interests, needs, spirituality and the list goes on. It’s bringing your whole life into oneness, through something you’re happy and willing to do as opposed to forced. Essentially you don’t want to become something you’re not.

How to achieve Ikigai

Ikigai is achieved by answering four questions that help you to find the reason for being.

1. What do you love?

Now this may seem simple, and you may already have some answers straight away. But sit down, be free from distractions and dig deep into yourself and discover the loves you have that you may not have paid attention to. Once you know what you love, the question arises what do you do with it? The next question will help.

2. What does the world need?

It’s a very big question with probably an endless list and that’s just when you think about what’s needed locally, let alone further away. But if you can identify one need that interests you, then it can be used as a guide for you.

3. What can you be paid for?

In this day and age you can get paid for anything, you just need to find the right customers who require what you’re selling. So be creative and identify something of value from the things that you love and what the world needs.

4. What are you good at?

Everyone has something that they are good at, areas of strength. You may not be enjoying your strength, but that may be down to the fact you’re not applying them in the right way or context. If you’re failing in identifying strengths then you can easily become good or excel in other areas if you put in time and energy. Time and energy sounds like hard work right? Well it can be quiet easy if it’s being put into something that you love.

Conclusion

When your love and what you’re good at combine you find your passion, and when what the world needs and what you can be paid for combine you find your vocation. When all of these combine then you find your Ikigai.

This is not a five minute exercise to determine your whole life and its direction. For a lot of people it takes years just to realise their passion so naturally to find your Ikigai will be a more difficult task.

Put time and thought into it, don’t rush it. Allow your mind to travel until it settles on the right answers for you and review it regularly until you get to the point that you’re excited to wake up each morning.

Below is a free worksheet that you can download that will help and guide you in answering these questions and finding your Ikigai.

Ikigai Worksheet