What Are The 10 Rules Of Ikigai? | Guide To Ikigai - The Japanese Way Of Finding Purpose

May 22, 2023Shopify API

Learn about Ikigai: Japanese concept of finding purpose in life and find true happiness and calm. Read on to learn more.

In recent years, the concept of Ikigai has gained significant attention worldwide. Originating from Japan, Ikigai is a powerful philosophy that can guide individuals towards a life filled with meaning and purpose. 

Literally translating to "reason for being," Ikigai helps us discover our true passions, talents, and the activities that bring us joy. 

In this article, we will explore the 10 fundamental rules of Ikigai and much more, offering insights into how you can uncover your own path to a fulfilling existence.

What Are The 10 Rules Of Ikigai?

1. Live with Purpose

The first rule of Ikigai is to live with purpose. It emphasizes the importance of having a clear direction and knowing why you do what you do. 

Finding a sense of purpose gives your life meaning and motivates you to pursue your goals and dreams with determination.

2. Pursue What You Love

Ikigai encourages you to identify and pursue activities that bring you genuine joy and fulfillment. Whether it's a hobby, a career, or a creative endeavor, engaging in what you love allows you to experience a deep sense of satisfaction and contentment.

3. Discover Your Talents

Recognizing and nurturing your unique talents is another key aspect of Ikigai. 

Everyone possesses their own set of skills and abilities, and discovering these strengths enables you to leverage them in pursuit of your goals. Identifying your talents empowers you to make a meaningful contribution to the world.

4. Do What the World Needs

Ikigai teaches us to consider the needs of others and how we can contribute to society. 

By aligning our passions and talents with the needs of the world, we can make a positive impact and find a profound sense of fulfillment in the process.

5. Seek the Balance

Finding balance in life is essential for achieving Ikigai. Balancing different aspects of your life, such as work, relationships, hobbies, and self-care, allows you to maintain overall well-being. 

It ensures that you have enough time and energy to dedicate to the things that truly matter.

6. Embrace the Journey

Ikigai is not just about reaching a destination; it's about embracing the journey itself. Cultivating a sense of mindfulness and being present in each moment enables you to appreciate the small joys and experiences along the way. Embrace the process, learn from challenges, and grow in wisdom.

7. Stay Persistent

Persistence is a fundamental principle of Ikigai. When faced with obstacles and setbacks, maintaining a resilient mindset is crucial. 

The path to fulfillment may not always be easy, but by persevering and staying committed to your goals, you can overcome difficulties and achieve what truly matters to you.

8. with Others

Building and nurturing meaningful relationships is a vital aspect of Ikigai. Human connections bring joy, support, and a sense of belonging. 

Engage in compassionate interactions, surround yourself with positive influences, and collaborate with others to create a network of support and inspiration.

9. Embrace Change

Change is inevitable, and Ikigai encourages us to embrace it rather than fear it. Embracing change opens up new possibilities and helps us adapt to different circumstances. 

By being open-minded and flexible, you can explore new passions, develop new skills, and embark on exciting new ventures.

10. Find Flow

The final rule of Ikigai is to seek the state of flow. Flow is the experience of complete immersion and deep concentration in an activity, where time seems to fly by. 

It is in this state that you can fully utilize your skills, challenge yourself, and experience a profound sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.


Ikigai provides a powerful framework for discovering purpose and leading a fulfilling life. 

By incorporating these 10 rules into your daily existence, you can unlock your own unique path to happiness and find a deep sense of satisfaction in everything you do. 

Remember, Ikigai is a personal journey, and it may take time and self-reflection to uncover your true purpose. Embrace the process, live with intention, and let your Ikigai guide you towards a life well-lived.

What is Ikigai?

Ikigai - Like any word, this can be broken down to understandable pieces. The word ikigai, describing the Japanese ‘secret’ behind the country’s long life expectancy can be seen as iki (生き) meaning life and being alive and gai (甲斐), representing the value or worth of being.

Looking for “Ikigai”

The term “Ikigai” took the world by a storm when Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles co-authored the book ‘Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life’. To do research for their book, the two reached Okinawa, the land where Ikigai is most prominent. Lucky for them, Hector’s father-in-law was a respected member of the Okinawa community and helped them get one-on-one time with people in Okinawa.

Ikigai: Japanese concept of finding purpose in life

The reason these interactions were important was, to understand Ikigai, you’ll need to hear about the concept from those who have experienced it. In Okinawa, you’ll find some of the oldest living people on earth.

And the reason? Experiencing Ikigai. Upon talking to 100 of the Okinawan elders and asking them the same question, if they have found Ikigai in their lives, Hector received a unanimous answer. Yes.

In yet another book by Dan Buettner, Blue Zones, the longevity expert laid down some things he learnt from people around the world, including Okinawans.

That being said, he noted that Okinawa has the world's highest number of centenarians, people in their 100s. A number of reasons factor in of course, such as the plant-based diet, mild weather and really low levels of stress. As for ikigai, the town’s culture, it is so deep, that everything they do, revolves around it.

In fact, the Okinawan language doesn’t have a term for retirement. Retirement is for those who want to stop working. They want to stop working because it doesn’t bring them joy. That’s not in the case of those who have had Ikigai.

It sure seems intriguing now. We know where it stems from, and where its roots lie, but how do we practise it? What would it look like to grasp the concept step by step and to implement it in our lives?

What are the 4 principles of ikigai?

  1. Passion (What you love)

This principle refers to discovering and engaging in activities that ignite your passion and bring you joy. It involves identifying the things that genuinely excite and inspire you, whether they are hobbies, creative pursuits, or professional endeavors.

  1. Mission (What the world needs)

The principle of mission focuses on understanding the needs of the world or society around you. It involves identifying how you can contribute to the well-being of others and make a positive impact. 

By aligning your talents and passions with the needs of the world, you can find a deeper sense of purpose and fulfillment.

  1. Vocation (What you are good at)

Vocation refers to recognizing and nurturing your unique talents, skills, and strengths. It involves identifying the areas where you excel and honing those abilities to a high level of competence. 

By leveraging your natural talents, you can make a significant contribution and experience a sense of accomplishment.

  1. Profession (What you can be paid for)

The principle of profession involves finding a career or profession that allows you to support yourself financially. It focuses on identifying opportunities where your passions, talents, and the needs of the world intersect with viable economic prospects. 

This principle recognizes the importance of sustainability and ensuring that you can pursue your Ikigai while meeting your practical needs.

These four principles - passion, mission, vocation, and profession - intertwine and intersect to create the concept of Ikigai, representing the convergence of what you love, what the world needs, what you are good at, and what you can be paid for. 

Finding the balance and harmony among these principles is believed to lead to a fulfilling and purposeful life.

How do you awaken your ikigai?

Awakening your Ikigai involves a process of self-reflection, exploration, and taking proactive steps to align your passions, talents, and values with a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Here are some steps to help you awaken your Ikigai:

  1. Reflect on your passions

Start by identifying the activities, hobbies, or interests that bring you joy and excitement. Reflect on the moments when you feel most alive and engaged. Consider what makes you lose track of time and ignites your enthusiasm.

  1. Identify your strengths and talents

Take time to understand your unique skills and abilities. What are you naturally good at? What tasks or activities come easily to you? Identify the strengths that set you apart and consider how you can leverage them to make a positive impact.

  1. Explore your values and what matters to you

Reflect on your core values and beliefs. What principles do you hold dear? Consider the causes, issues, or areas of society that resonate with you on a deeper level. Understanding your values can help guide you towards the areas where you can make a meaningful contribution.

  1. Seek opportunities for growth and learning

Embrace a growth mindset and actively pursue opportunities to expand your knowledge and skills. This could involve taking courses, attending workshops, reading books, or seeking mentors who can help you develop and refine your abilities.

  1. Experiment and try new things

Be open to new experiences and stepping outside of your comfort zone. Explore different activities, industries, or roles that align with your interests and talents. This experimentation can help you discover unexpected passions or uncover hidden talents.

  1. Connect with othersCultivate relationships and connections with like-minded individuals who share your interests or goals. Surrounding yourself with a supportive network can provide encouragement, inspiration, and opportunities for collaboration.
  2. Find meaning and contribute to others: Consider how your passions and talents can be of service to others. How can you make a positive impact on individuals, communities, or the world at large? Explore ways to align your Ikigai with the needs of others and find fulfillment through acts of kindness and contribution.
  3. Embrace the journey: Recognize that discovering your Ikigai is an ongoing process. Embrace the journey, be patient with yourself, and celebrate small successes along the way. Remain open to self-reflection and adapt as you gain new insights and experiences.

Remember, awakening your Ikigai is a personal and introspective journey. It requires self-awareness, exploration, and a willingness to make choices that align with your passions, values, and sense of purpose. Enjoy the process and trust that by following your inner compass, you will uncover a fulfilling and meaningful path in life.

Ikigai is Versatile

Some people argue that the concept is less about making money and what the world needs from you. In all fairness, the whole concept is to bring fulfilment to life. The moment you start living for someone else and somebody else’s purpose, it stops being for you. 

Not only is ikigai different for different people, but for a single person alone, their own personal ikigai can change from time to time. It can be something as simple as taking the time to savour a piece of chocolate to saving the world and stopping global warming.

 For elders, found in Okinawa, they find ikigai in spending time with their grandchildren, teaching in martial arts and simply enjoying a home-cooked meal.

What is the 80% rule of ikigai?

The 80% rule of Ikigai is a principle that suggests one should aim for "just enough" or a sense of satisfaction rather than striving for perfection or maximum effort. 

It is based on the idea that exerting 100% effort and seeking perfection in every aspect of life can lead to stress, burnout, and a lack of balance. 

Instead, the 80% rule encourages individuals to find contentment and fulfillment by focusing on what is sufficient and satisfactory.

In the context of Ikigai, the 80% rule acknowledges that it may not always be realistic or necessary to excel in every aspect of life. 

It recognizes that perfectionism can be exhausting and may prevent individuals from enjoying the present moment or maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

By embracing the 80% rule, individuals can prioritize their energy and efforts on the most important areas of their lives. 

It allows them to allocate their time and resources wisely, recognizing that achieving a sense of satisfaction and balance is more valuable than chasing unattainable ideals.

Western Vs. Eastern Ikigai

As Ikigai popularised and travelled around the world, people began to change ikigai into a phenomenon that suits their lifestyles more. Some lifestyles are more demanding, time intensive. Millennials, especially, seem to think of it as a work-life balance.

As a result of the rapid adoption of technology and witnessing competitive, ambitious and upbeat people all around them, the longing for stability and instant results is high.

Keeping that in mind, the above mentioned Dan Buettner’s book suggests making three lists too keep up and working towards finding Ikigai:

  • Your values
  • Things you like to do
  • Things you are good at

Finding an intersection between these is where one would find Ikigai.

In Eastern countries, especially Japan, the birthplace of ikigai, the true origin was not about making money at all. In fact, this was not even about what you’re good at and the things you love to do. To have a goal made it seem restrictive. 

True ikigai meant being able to embrace the small joys in life as and when they came. One of the residents, Ken Mogi, said that to be able to dream of something as big as achieving goals, it is the smaller aspects of life that need to be able to bring happiness to you. It starts from cultivating a state of mind that keeps you feeling happy. 

For that to happen, Mogi reminds that looking inwards and getting to know yourself will help you map out what defines you. Being within a community and having many interactions will help you see how you are different from someone else.

That way, you have a bar to compare yourself with. In finding out what doesn’t work for you, you get to know yourself and realize the things that actually bring you happiness.

Why is ikigai important?

Many educated professionals such as journalists, scientists and sociologists often tried to bring in a scientific point of view to the usefulness of practising ikigai.

In these studies, among many conclusions was that practising this phenomenon, an old age Japanese cultural belief, can actually help you live longer.

One such study, conducted in a small town called Kyotanko in Kyoto, was to ask the elderly people of the town about what kept them happy.

What were the commonalities in their lifestyles, since this was one of the other towns where there were thrice the number of 100+ aged people than other parts of Japan?

A group of scientists partnered with people from Japanese TV program Takeshi no katei no igaku led this study. The process involved following 7 people in the town, from morning until dawn.

At the same time, they followed through on multiple blood tests and other health check-ups.

Interestingly, they found that all the subjects of the study had high DHEA levels. This steroid hormone comes from the adrenal glands and is believed to be the ‘longevity hormone’. Usually, this hormone is always taken artificially.

What was surprising was, even at the age of 90-100, their bodies seemed to be thriving with this hormone. The one common thing amongst their routines was that they all spent hours of their time on their hobbies. 

This could range from weaving baskets and painting to simply sitting by the sea.

Although there is no proof of the correlation and the proportionality between the increase in DHEA levels as one pursues their hobby, it is clear that having a sense of purpose, enjoying what you do and being satisfied with what you have can lead to happier, longer lives.

Finally, it all makes sense when people say life is too short to be worried. Conversely, you’re not worried and are working towards being happy, you automatically have a longer life.

It’s not too late to pen down your own little Venn diagram and begin again.

How cool is it, that you can boil down a complex life conundrum and a philosophical concept of life into a formula?

Is ikigai Buddhism?

No, Ikigai is not Buddhism. While both concepts touch upon personal fulfillment and purpose, Ikigai is a cultural concept from Japan that focuses on finding meaning and joy in life. Buddhism, on the other hand, is a religion and philosophy with its own distinct teachings and practices. Although there may be similarities or shared values, Ikigai is not inherently tied to Buddhism.

What is a real life example of ikigai?

A real-life example of Ikigai could be a person who is a passionate environmentalist, possesses a talent for communication and storytelling, values sustainability and the well-being of the planet, and earns a living as a writer or educator specializing in environmental issues.

In this example, their Ikigai is found at the intersection of their passion for environmental causes, their talent for communication, their values related to sustainability, and their chosen profession.

They find fulfillment and purpose in educating and inspiring others about environmental issues, making a positive impact on the world, and aligning their personal values with their career. This person experiences a deep sense of satisfaction and meaning in their work, and their efforts contribute to both their own well-being and the well-being of the planet.

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