Many ancient indigenous cultures took time to honour the question of purpose through ceremony, vision quest and rites of passage in order to help reveal the essential role in the story of life. Unfortunately the space and reverence for this question does not always seem to exist today and for many, our decisions around life-focus unfold in a more reactionary way, propelling us into educational, professional and life-directional paths based less on deep inner calling or soul-inspired vision, and more on societal expectations or so-called ‘practical reality’ and what is required to survive in the systems we’ve created to live in.
The distinguishing quality of many of the healthiest people is that they seem to be the most aligned or ‘called’ towards some primary focus of meaning in their life. They have a sense of purpose. And this is the single most powerful contributing factor to one’s health and vitality.
Japanese culture actually has a word which addresses this focus. The word is ikigai and translates simply as, ‘reason for being’.
According to the Japanese, everyone has an ikigai. To find it often requires deep enquiry and lengthy ‘search of self’ – a search which is highly regarded. The term ikigai is composed of two Japanese words: iki referring to life, and kai, which roughly means “the realisation of what one expects and hopes for”. Unpacking the word and its associated symbol a bit further, ikigai is seen as the convergence of four primary elements:
What you Love (your passion)
What the World Needs (your mission)
What you are Good at (your vocation)
What you can get Paid for (your profession)
When we are immersed in any endeavour that brings us into our hearts, that makes us come alive – and we are bringing ourselves fully to it – instantly we become more generative, more magnetic and more dynamic in our ability to navigate challenges and discover pathways of breakthrough.