Finding Your Ikigai 生き甲斐 Why I Wake up in the Morning

Aligning with your ikigai, your purpose or reason for waking up in the morning, can increase self-esteem and longevity.

Are you living your most extraordinary life? Are you willing to believe that something else is possible? Do you understand you have a choice in creating the life you have always wanted?

These questions inspired me to write The Let Go.

The Japanese believe in having deep satisfaction and meaning in their lives; they need to live in alignment with their ikigai (ee-key-guy), which translates to the reason for being or why I wake up in the morning. It is about defining one’s purpose, one’s mission, and reaching one’s full potential. Interestingly, it is not associated with striving for happiness.

Our ikigai changes as we grow and mature in life, so it is ongoing and lifelong to discover and realign with it

Our ikigai changes as we grow and mature in life, so it is ongoing and lifelong to discover and realign with it. The intention is to uncover what and how we can contribute to our world by determining what we are good at and what gives us pleasure.

“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.”

– Winston S. Churchill

This sounds like a beautiful concept, yet, how do we find it?

Hidden within the answer to these questions — how do you spend your time, and where do you focus your energies — lies the secrets to finding the joy in our lives. To investigate what truly gives us satisfaction will reveal to us what our ikigai is. To see this takes some digging into the who of who we are.

Why Is It Essential to Find It?

It appears that those who actively strive for their ikigai have stronger self-esteem and feel a sense of belonging within the world. When we meet those who have found this, their very presence lends a feeling of harmony and balance.

Longevity has also been associated with those who found their purpose: engaging in something that brings them joy every day. Scientists and researchers have uncovered that knowing our sense of purpose extends our life expectancy. It also boosts our DHEA, a steroid hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, known as the miracle “longevity hormone.”

Finding Your Ikigai

The convergence of the following four elements is a way to identify our ikigai.

  • What is your passion? What do you love? Define it by looking at your natural gifts, your talents, and your skills.
  • What is your mission? How can you give to the world, solve a problem or add to your community? What issues in your society would you like to help resolve?
  • What is your vocation? What are your talents? Where do your efforts feel effortless? 
  • What is your profession? Have you been paid for what you do? Are other people being paid for this work?

Where these four questions intersect is where we can find our ikigai.

If we are unable to get to the heart of these questions, we can shake things up. Discovering new ways of doing something, expanding our circle of friends, exploring new interests, or volunteering for an organization that inspires us may lead to personal insight. Most of all, understanding that this is an ongoing process of growth. Nothing is set in stone. Some may find it quickly, and others may take decades. Regardless, it is the journey that is most important.

We are all creations of our minds. We have the power of change. To get there starts with the first step. For a long time, my life with horses was the intersection of the four elements. As time passed, my ikigai has changed. Now writing and speaking have become where my sense of purpose feels most satisfied.

Explore Where You Find Your Meaning

Finding our ikigai exemplifies: Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.

I encourage everyone to start digging and exploring where you find your meaning and your raison d’etre. The purpose has nothing to do with the job title or task; as long as one can find a sense of fulfillment and inner gratification, we will move towards our reason for being and why we wake up in the morning. 

If you can find pleasure and satisfaction in what you do and you’re good at it, congratulations, you have found your ikigai.

Charisse Glenn: Casting Director, International Equestrian, and Creator of The Let Go 
I am an advocate for being who we are at any age. Today is the youngest we will ever be again.
Photo credit: James Reese
HMU: Joanna Wood
See medical disclaimer below. ↓


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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.


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