Ikigai: The Reason for Which You Wake Up in the Morning



Do you instantly know why you wake up in the morning?

According to Dan Buettner, in America, we tend to break our adult life into two phases: Work and retirement.

In Okinawan language, there is not even a word for retirement.  In Okinawa, there is one word that encompasses everything.

That word is Ikigai (eek-y-guy).

Roughly translated, ikigai means, “the reason for which you wake up in the morning.”

Ikigai, or, your “sense of purpose”, is very personal experience – and it manifests itself in many ways.

There is great power in purpose.  For example, we know that people with a strong sense of purpose have boosted immune systems.  They also enjoy lower stress hormones, and are better able to deal with the difficulties that life throws their way.

Watch this 3 minute video on the power of ikigai, where Dan Buettner shares his insight on this cornerstone of Okinawan longevity.

My ikigai is to help you lead a better life with skill.

What’s yours?


  1. @ Travis — Thank you.

    @ Sean — Thank you. I’m a fan of expanding vocabularies. I’m a big believer that our language shapes our lives.

  2. J.D.,
    I like it. We are forced to divide our work into life/work, but we are One. Having great driving purpose helps navigating both life and work which in reality is the same – one gets you one kind of currency ($$) and the other gets you another kind of currency (satisfaction, joy, fulfilment). It’s great though when all currencies could be combined no matter if you live your life or do your work.

  3. I have just taken myself off my medication, because it made me so fatigued and unable to get out of bed in the morning – I had no joy and I have little purpose.

    ZIP and needing to go for a morning walk ( today in the falling snow) is better medicine.

    I am not getting any better or healing on the medication which is expensive – so I think I would rather get my zest back and risk death than take it.

    Fear is so troublesome – sometimes

    Loved this post Thank you

  4. Loved this! Thanks JD. My aspiration is to help others find true happiness and freedom.

  5. Thanks for this, JD. I needed a reminder of this. It’s been “one of those days” today and now that I’ve read this, I’m reminded that I’ve been a little off my path in the sense that I’m not focused on any sense of purpose.

  6. @ Alik — I think now, more than ever, we need to make meaning and use that juice to drive our days and carve out ways.

    @ Patricia — When you find your purpose, you find your strenghth, and the power of purposes usually comes when we need it most.

    @ Sandra — Those are noble goals and they are both well suited to your abilities, and they are in great demand.

    @ Davina — I love the fact that such a little word, can mean so much, and ikigai is a perfect reminder for any day, and especially “one of those days” 😉

  7. I love this! Language is so interesting and reveals so much about the people who speak it. Here is a single word that needs many words to explain it in English.

    For me? To be awake and to support others in waking up.

    Great post–thanks!

  8. Hi JD .. I’m sure I heard this word on the radio the other day – at some unearthly hour of the morning .. and immediately my ears pricked up – but my mind was asleep – still I remembered. Interesting how we hear something and can retain it – I’d seen your post – but knew I needed time to reply.

    The will to live is very strong. However do we realise what is important .. family, friends – they will help us in times of stress, distress – not our new gadget … while our outlook will give us further reasons to live and our health will improve as we’ll be connected to life …

    Ikigai – excellent word – many thanks .. Hilary

  9. @ Hilary — Well put. Connecting to life and connecting to what counts is the key.

    It’s funny how when we learn something, it starts showing up all around us. We really are our own ultimate filter and meaning maker for life.

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