Finding Your Ikigai

November 18, 2013

What gets you up in the morning?

From Wikipedia:

Ikigai is a Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being”. Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is regarded as being very important, since it is believed that discovery of one’s ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning to life.


Positive psychologist Martin Seligman combines five essential elements for well-being into the PERMA model. PERMA stands for (P) positive emotion (E) engagement (R) positive relationships (M) meaning and (A) accomplishment/achievement. Martin says the pursuit of meaning is the strongest contribution to life satisfaction.


My current pursuit is to optimize for learning. There is no shortage of worldly problems and people working on them. Getting a better understanding of the bigger picture, I can then apply that knowledge into action by designing systems that are not just doing less harm on the world, but regenerating life and energy beyond sustainability. Being part of a story of positivity and creation is much more empowering to me than conservation and efficiency, which is equally important.

If meaningfulness is so fundamental to our well-being, have you consciously created the time and space to contemplate it? What is your Ikigai? Please share in the comments.

Additional resources:

Dan Buettner shares how to live to be 100+ years old and talks about Ikigai around 11:00

Martin Seligman talks positive psychology and about meaning around 15:20 and 19:00

Shawn Achors talks about the happiness advantage

Dan Pink on what motivates us


Happiness Advantage



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