As a participant in the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’m writing a manifesto of what I believe and what delights me, based on unusual words. Today’s container is the letter i, and I’ve chosen a Japanese word ikigai.
Ikigai – (n) a reason for being; the thing that gets you up in the morning.
Ever since I discovered this word I’ve been captivated by it. The Japanese culture is fascinating to me in so many ways, but particularly because they seem so able to both hold the very precise AND the very ephemeral simultaneously in ways I certainly don’t see in my American culture.
As I’ve research ikigai, I’ve often found the definition paired with an a diagram. You can find an example here on Wikipedia. But basically its an illustration of overlapping circles – a Venn diagram – where ikigai is the overlapping point between:
passion (what you love and what you are good at)
mission (what you love and what the world needs)
vocation (what the world needs and what you can be paid for)
profession (what you can be paid for and what you are good at)
It’s really fun to be in that very dynamic place where you can’t wait to get up in the morning – you awake with a sense of excitement and almost urgency to get started. I often feel that way when I’m working on a project I’m totally psyched about, and my brain is in that creative mode where idea after idea, connection after connection, is being revealed and I can’t wait to fall down the day’s rabbit hole.
But it’s also lovely to be in that quieter more refined space what isn’t quite so energetically active. This is the state I’ve been trying to consciously attune to as I imagine what the world would look like if we were all moving through the world aware of and accommodating our particular ikigai. Imagine how different things might be.
I believe my ikigai is to radiate my soul’s energy signature as clearly and purely as I can in every moment, finding ways to express that delight me, and always moving forward towards ever-increasing awareness, wholeness, and joy.
What about you? What’s your ikigai? Are you committed to having it a priority in your life? Have a favorite word from another language/culture that delights you or stretches your thinking? Do tell – you know I love to hear.
While I worked for ten years surrounded by the most beautiful Japanese antiques, and was fortunate to travel to Japan more than once, I never encountered this lovely word before. Ever. The overlap between passion, mission, vocation and profession is what I’m focussing on these days, Deborah. To see it so clearly and insightfully laid out in and packaged up into one tidy word is stunning. What a word. I’m guessing it’s pronounced along the lines of “Ee-kee-guy”? Or are you pronouncing it differently?
That is how I’m pronouncing it Kelly. It really is a fabulous word and concept isn’t it? And how lucky you were to have traveled to Japan. But even more wonderful is that what you’re now doing is so fulfilling. Love it!
What a great word with a lovely meaning. My husband and I went to Japan a few years ago. It really is a wonderful culture. Thank you for a super post and thank you for popping over to visit my blog. Lovely to ‘meet’ you.
How lovely you’ve been to visit Japan. I’m glad to “meet” you as well Nicola – happy A-to-Z-ing.
What a fabulous word – I do like the concise, I adore haiku and always try to keep my own poems as succinct as possible – say what I want in as few words as possible. The thing that gets me up in the morning is writing… doing anything creative, really. ~Liz http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com
How perfect Liz.
Oooh, I really love this word! I’m going to have to keep it in mind. It seems to cover a number of concepts better than any English word I’ve heard.
It really is wonderful isn’t it Megan?! Thanks for stopping by.
What a lovely concept! I’m always amazed at how much the A-Z Blogging Challenge not only entertains but educates as well. Hope your month is going well.
April is indeed a good month for expanding our horizons. Thanks for stopping by Kimberley and happy a-to-z-ing.
Ikigai sounds like an interesting concept — I’ve seen something similar in a productivity book, although I can’t remember which one…
I’m wondering if you might have seen it with regard to Marie Kondo’s work. In any case, that you for stopping by and saying hello.
Deborah, again you made me think… What makes me get up in the morning? My MIL and my dog but I can’t call this my passion. I think I have to work on my ikigai… mine is changing every few years…
a href=”http://evalinamaria.blogspot.ca/”>Evalina, This and that…
That’s lovely Evalina – just as you’re always growing and expanding and evolving so too can your ikigai. Wishing you happiness always.
What a beautiful word! Funny thing is I have that Venn diagram framed in my office although mine seems to be missing the Japanese word you have described here in the center. I look at mine frequently because I truly LOVE the fact that all those circles come together and produce what I am here to do.
Oh that’s incredible Elda – it totally delights me knowing you have the diagram.
That’s a lovely word and a gorgeous post. Thanks for sharing it–I’d never heard it before, but I have seen the diagram.
It would be easy for me to say that writing is what gets me up in the morning, but in actuality, I believe it’s love. Nothing seems worth it without love.
Love indeed is a wonderful thing to get you up in the morning.
Asian culture has so many facets to it and this one that I just learned is another lovely one. Mostly I’m crazy for Japan for their anime.
I agree Sheena-kay — there’s so much to appreciate and delight in.
What a beautiful word. My favorite words from another language are saudade from the Portuguese which is a feeling of nostalgic melancholic longing for an absent something or someone, and zeitgeist from the German which is the spirit of a specific period of time in history.
Lovely words Elizabeth – thanks for sharing them. And thanks for stopping by and saying hi.
Hey, Deborah! Now I can see why you came by my site. We are both unusual words lovers! This is a great theme for this challenge. I will come back to get caught up on the previous words for the challenge!
Sharon Arthur Moore @good2tweat
Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time
Thanks Sharon. What a fun April this is turning out to be!
That is a lovely word! My ikigai is to be grateful/thankful for every little thing. To not take things for granted and to pass on whatever light I can.
How beautiful Bish!
Do you watch anime, Deborah? I LOVE Japanese culture, at least what I know of it from watching anime – which is probably like saying that I know American culture by watching sitcoms! Anime astounds me quite often because of this unique and deeply spiritual esoteric way of looking at the world. They often have little creatures that are part of their spirit that follow the characters around. It is really quite special. My husband got me into it. He still watches a LOT of it without me, but when he finds a particularly good series, he shares it. Thanks for another great word!
I do watch a little anime Amy – and I agree it can be quite magical. It’s definitely one of the many fabulous things about the Japanese culture that intrigue and delight me.
Lovely! It’s how I feel about writing – and about Japan, as a matter of fact. 😀
It’s such a wonderful thing to celebrate when you’re doing what you love. I wish that for everyone.
Great word! Thanks for linking the diagram too. I pinned it to my Word of the Year “Focus” board. You are a marvel!
What a great idea Janet – and what a fabulous word you’ve chosen for the year. I can imagine how powerful it is.