Ikigai is a wonderful term in Japanese. The dictionary explains that it means a motivating force, something that gives you purpose or fulfillment.If you do a Google search, it explains that Ikagai occurs when you can find what you love, what gives you joy, what you are good at, and what the world needs so you can profit or benefit from doing it.
Djokovic playing tennis and being paid when he wins, for example. The idea sounds very alluring. But is this the purpose of your life, or does your life have a deeper meaning?
Personally, I have been searching for the meaning of life for a while. When I was younger, the meaning eluded me. It meant success, business goals, and building things. As I matured, it became happiness. Then even happiness sounded hollow, as I recently wrote. How can anyone be happy all the time? So then, what is your Ikigai, or purpose?
Sometimes it helps to look at questions from first principles. Take the question to the absolute basics of reality, and then ask the question. So here is my shot at this.
It is a reality that you and I exist. You and I have a mind and body, and for the most part, we can exercise some degree of influence on our minds and bodies. You can think about a song, or you can open and close your hands. These are basic functions that even a young child can perform.
Is our purpose then to gain complete mastery of our mind and body? I turned to books to learn what others were saying. People have spoken for aeons about mastery of the body and the mind. For example, science talks about interoception, the ability to look inside and truly understand how your body and organs are functioning and even regulate them.
Yoga talks about complete control over the body, even the digestive system. So you could eat at will or even deny your body food for months if you wished. The highest form of Yoga talks about samidhi, leaving your body at will, or even leaving and coming back at will.
For the most part of my life, these sounded like fantastical stories out of a Harry Potter novel. But is it? If I can train my body to squat, perform calculus, or sing, why can't I teach myself how to regulate the functioning of my liver?
Similarly, why can't I regulate the way my brain functions? So can this be a purpose for your life? To gain mastery of your mind and your body? After all, if there is a basic truth, it is that you and I exist and have a mind and body. So before I look at anything else, should I not look at a complete mastery of the basics?
You could argue that it won't make for a good living. But think of it this way. If someone is truly master of their mind and body, aren't they the most likely to make a good living if that is what they want? Find their Ikigai at will almost if they desire?