Ikigai is a Japanese concept that combines the terms iki, meaning “life,” and gai, meaning “benefit” or “worth.” When you put these two words together, you get that which gives your life value.
But what exactly is “ikigai”? Ikigai is that part where your passion, mission, vocation and profession or trade meet. This can be visualised by the Venndiagram. The four circles represent:
- What you love
- What you are good at
- What the world needs
- What you are paid for/can be paid for
So how does this work in practice?
On the occasion of Jess Gonzales’ upcoming event, we asked her some questions about Ikigai that might help you understand the importance of it a bit more.
1. Why are you so interested in this concept?
I love Japanese philosophy and the way they connect with life and nature. I think we are all fascinated by their longevity and how at ease they seem to be late in their lives. “Ikigai” is not a set of rules or some guru advice, it’s a “way of experiencing life”. There´s something beautiful about finding that reason why you wake up every day, how you can make your life worth living. That’s what “Ikigai” means: “IKI” is life, “GAI” it’s worth/value.
2. What’s your Ikigai and how did you find it?
I found my Ikigai by being curious and exposing myself to different people, places and things. I’ve allowed myself to try different things: courses, books, activities, etc. This way I’ve understood better the things I like and enjoy vs the things that drain my energy and require an effort for me to do.
My Ikigai is a long list of things. Starting by having a nice cup of Assam tea in the morning and taking the time to enjoy its flavours and smell. Going back home (Vigo) and spending quality time with my friends and family. Dressing up and creating parodies of famous music videos, convincing friends who are not actors or singers to participate in them and having a laugh with me, haha . Encouraging and empowering the people I know to try new challenges and believe in themselves, because if I can do things, anyone else can!
3. How has your life changed since you discovered your Ikigai?
I can say that I feel happier and more fulfilled. I found my “inner light” and my mission. Before realizing all this I was feeling very empty inside. I had all the things I wanted to have: good job, good friends, good family, etc,but I still felt there was something missing. I also feel more grateful about everything, my friends, the food I have, the access to a hot shower. I guess I took many things for granted and now I’ve opened my eyes
4. Do you think everyone has their own Ikigai?
Definitely, but I would also like to add that your Ikigai today doesn ‘t have to be your Ikigai tomorrow. As for us, it evolves throughout the years. For example, if I think about myself, I always thought when I was younger that my only reason for being was becoming an actress and performing for people. I still love acting, but there are so many other things in my life that bring me as much joy and make me feel as fulfilled.
I do believe that we are alive for a reason, we all have special traits and qualities and part of our journey on Earth is to realize them. When this happens, it’s possible to make a difference and have a positive impact on ourselves and also the people around us.
5. What would you say to people who are at a loss and think they can’t do anything special with their lives?
You´re wrong! Jokes aside.
I would say that probably, you still haven’t found your “Ikigai”, this doesn’t mean you don’t have one. Perhaps you haven’t been surrounded by the right people or you’ve gone through challenging times. You´ve had to live your life in survival mode, so your potential remains locked. But don´t worry! Sometimes we just need some guidance to get that push to unleash our inner power and skyrocket to the Moon!