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“Ikigai translated into English as ‘life purpose’ sounds quite formidable, but ikigai need not be the one overriding purpose of a person’s life. In fact, the word ‘life’ used here aligns more with seikatsu – daily life. In other words, ikigai can be about the joy a person finds living day-to-day, without which their life as a whole would not be a happy one.” - Yukari Mitsuhashi

Ikigai is a concept that combines the Japanese terms iki, meaning “alive” or “life,” and gai, meaning “benefit” or “worth.” When combined, these terms mean that which gives your life worth, meaning, or purpose.


If you are unfamiliar with the concept of ikigai, the basic idea is that it’s the overlap of the following things: what you LOVE, what you can GET PAID to do, what you are GOOD at, and what the world NEEDS. This is a great way to frame your artistic practice. So for this week, I want think about what each of these things are for us and how their overlap and balance can guide our focus.

My Answer:

I love: Solving puzzles and being physically active

I can get paid to: create puzzles for other people

I am good at: Deconstructing and building (in a general sense) and conveying/explaining ideas

The world needs art

Thoughts and Actions:

I love this idea because I feel like it simplifies an overly complex world. We have so many options for how we can exist, but this concept really distills everything down to an accessible formula.

Many successful people embrace this concept instinctually or unknowingly. 

Though the western idea of ikigai is often equated with one’s professional “sweet spot,” this is a misnomer as ikigai defies all boundaries or stipulations. It is a holistic, all-encompassing concept that transcends any prescribed framework. That being said, ikigai can be your profession should you choose. I’ve always felt that if you follow your passion and find your purpose, your career will naturally emerge.

In more practical terms, your ikigai serves as the driving force behind your actions and gives you purpose. It inspires you to wake up each morning and strive for something beyond the mundane and status quo. Ikigai empowers you to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life. This is why one of the ethos of ikigai is to never retire.

When you are doing something that aligns with your ikigai, you are likely to feel more motivated and engaged. This can help you stay focused and committed to your goals.

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