Ikigai is a Japanese personal reason for living, and one’s ultimate satisfaction in life. I only recently encountered the term Ikigai, but have pondered and posted on similar subjects. It seems to be the Jeffersonian end point of, “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” My concept of happiness, charted below, isn’t based on any single thing, but has many nuanced layers any of which may apply to a person at different times. My chart of Happiness has 15 levels scaled from – 0 Survivalism, desperate physical survival; – 6 Epicureanism, maximizing quiet pleasure; 12 Utilitarianism, utilizing all Earth’s resources to maximize humanity’s happiness; 15 Theoria, utilizing methods benefiting everyone and everything forever. The higher numbered styles of happiness are abstract and not generally thought about by people exploring the qualities of Anarchism and Hedonism. It would seem, on casual inspection, that people usually identify most strongly with one of these as a general life purpose, and only stray up and down a level or two for special occasions.
Ikigai could fall anywhere on this chart because it is defined as meaning for an individual’s life. Every person is unique in their aspirations, and their reason for living is unique and varies with time. Most adults would probably feel comfortable with level 5 Socialism, with a secure status within a group that itself has a meaningful purpose. Doing good things within that group would be their Ikigai. Others might strive for level 8 Energeiaism, which requires sustained effort and cultivated skill, for which they achieve high awards. Thus people’s Ikigai might be placed on this chart.
The advantage of knowing one’s relationship to other levels of happiness is that it becomes easier to concentrate on those things one values most. By being in resonance with their natural quest people gain the most satisfaction with their life and their Ikigai, and their life becomes the most satisfying by their own personal standards.
Love your Ikigai. Fulfill its needs and gently reach higher.