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What is ikigai ? #3

What the world needs

- Our actions cause ripples that spread and touch other people and affect the environment, so seek

personal fulfillment in harmony with the wider world.


In Japanese culture, respect for other people and the natural world is an important aspect of ikigai.

After all, if everyone focused purely on fulfilling their own desires, some fundamental needs of

society and the environment would likely be neglected. Equally, it is understood that a strong society

and sustainable environment creates a firmer foundation for individuals to explore deeply personal

ambitions. The trick is to find time for activities that both inspire you and contribute to the greater

good, whether that is in nature and wildlife conservation or charitable work for needy people.

  • Half a dozen ways to care

Pursuing your personal ikigai at times when your overriding priority is the welfare of others can be

very challenging.


Japanese writer Tsuyako Miyake saw this story as analogous to how little things that we think we are doing just for ourselves may be vital to a total stranger. 'We are all doing something for countless strangers and countless strangers are doing something for us' she commented in 1969. 'I try to keep this in mind always'; Imagine, then, the impact you can make when you actively seek to serve others in ways aligned to your personal ikigai. Let your light shine.

  • Ask for help

Just as you may nourish a profound personal sense of fulfilment through helping others, be aware

that other people can derive similar benefits from assisting you. So do not be afraid to ask those

with greater knowledge in a certain area for guidance. You may learn valuable lessons. Equally, by

taking an interest in their personal experiences, you may enhance their feelings that those

experiences are valuable and consolidate their own sense of purpose in life.

  • Spread the love

In March 2011, a massive earthquake occurred in eastern Japan triggering a tsunami and devastating

cities across a huge area. Ikigai was shown to help people to deal with physical and psychological

trauma in the aftermath. A restaurateur whose businesses were destroyed in the tsunami, opened a

tiny ramen shop with the simple goal to make people eat, drink and smile again. Thus a sense of purpose was re- established both for individuals and communities as a whole. Love spreads, and so does ikigai.

  • Express your appreciation

When you are following your ikigai, the need for validation and recognition from other people

diminishes in importance. However, it remains true that all humans are emotional creatures and our

behaviour, attitude and general outlook on life are affected to a greater or lesser extent by how

people treat us. So be considerate in your interactions with others. Be generous in expressing your

gratitude for their efforts. In doing so, you may help them discover their ikigai; something they can

offer that the world needs, a quality they possess that perhaps they hadn't previously realised

because it had never been acknowledged before.


The confluence of what the world needs and what you love speaks to your mission. But if the

structure and prevailing values of the society in which you live do not coincide with your own, you

may find it difficult to follow your ikigai. This is where the virtual world, rather than being a

distraction from your search for meaning in the real world, can assist you. Via the internet,

information on almost any subject is readily available for you to explore and it is easier than ever to

connect with like-minded people who you can assist and who can help you. Technology is shrinking

the world, so use it with intent to find your mission.

Even small acts of compassion bring meaning and purpose to our lives
  • The importance of listening

How will you understand what the world needs if you don't listen? It is easy to lock yourself in an echo chamber, interacting only with those who share, and thus reinforce, your opinions. This can

lead to conflicts that defy all reason. Reach out to those who your actions affect. Listen to their

concerns. Maybe you can adapt and still maintain your purpose while building more harmonious

relationships. Their feedback may even open up hitherto unimagined opportunities for mutual




  • What the World Needs ?


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