I visited Japan after graduation and like Tim Urban (one of my favorite bloggers), I too failed to figure it out. Even though I stayed with a local friend in Japan for a few days and traveled alone, which forced me to interact with the local people, I found it very difficult to even begin to understand the Japanese culture. Nonetheless, I fell in love with the place (despite only being able to eat white rice on a vegetarian diet) and I came back and started reading some of their very thought-provoking philosophies. I’ll begin with Ikigai.
Ikigai is a concept to improve work and life. It’s about finding happiness in everyday life, such that the sum of small joys adds up to a more meaningful life. It is essentially the convergence of four primary elements:
- What you love (your passion)
- What the world needs (your mission)
- What you are good at (your vocation)
- What you can get paid for (your profession)
Of course not everyone has figured out what these four elements even mean for us (I’m still on the journey), but it’s a great lens and framework to use. It’s about “Purpose in Action.” Find your purpose. Take action.
If you have discovered your Ikigai or are still exploring like me, I would love to hear your stories – drop me a note! Till then, enjoy these pictures of my friends and me at a teenage photo studio in Tokyo!
More to come on Ikigai once I’ve read the book: Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia