Ikigai (生き甲斐) is a Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being.” Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self-discovery and reflection.
The word “ikigai” is usually used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile. The word is also used to refer to mental and spiritual circumstances under which individuals feel that their lives are valuable. It’s not necessarily linked to economic status or daily state of things.
Even if a person feels that today is dark, but has a goal, he may feel ikigai. Behaviours that make one feel “a reason for being” are not actions which individuals are forced to take – these are natural and spontaneous actions.
In the culture of Okinawa, ikigai is thought of as “a reason to get up in the morning”; that is, a reason to enjoy life. In a TED Talk, Dan Buettner referenced ikigai as one of the reasons people in the area had such long lives.