Happy Friday! As the week winds down, it’s time to relax and spend time with our loved ones. Since we’re still at the beginning of the year, the weekend may also be a good time to reflect on what we value most in life and what we hold dear to our hearts like our faith, family, friends, and relationships. With advancements in medical technology, more people now live longer than ever before in history. However, even with all our toys and gadgets, money, and new technologies, living longer does not necessarily translate to a life of joy and happiness.
The world is projected to have about 3.7 million centenarians by 2050, according to United Nations estimates. The U.S. has the highest number of centenarians in the world with 97,000 living in the country. Japan comes second with 79,000 Japanese who are 100 years or older, according to World Atlas.
However, Japan is where the world’s oldest person lives. Of the total population, one Japanese city is unique. Okinawa is a remote island to the southwest of Japan. The island has an unusually large population of centenarians. The people of Okinawa have been known to live a long and happy life. Okinawans not only live long lives but also experience fewer chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
So, what’s the secret to their long and happy lives? One of their secrets is often said to be Ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced “ick-ee-guy”).
Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” It’s an age-old Japanese philosophy that is known to have allowed many Japanese residents to live a long and happy life. Finding your purpose can be challenging especially when you do not know to find your passion, mission, profession, and vocation.
Ikigai is a secret formula or Venn diagram to help you identify your purpose or reason for being. To find this reason or purpose, experts recommend starting with four questions:
- What do you love?
- What are you good at?
- What does the world need from you?
- What can you get paid for?
The area at which all the four intersects is Ikigai. Finding the answers and a balance between these four areas could help you achieve your Ikigai. Westerners looking for a quick interpretation of this philosophy. But in Japan, Ikigai is a slower process and often has nothing to do with work or income.
You can learn more about Ikigai from the video below.