Ikigai Exercises: Discover Your Life Purpose

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Ikigai" by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Looking for ikigai exercises? What questions can you ask yourself to identify and manifest your ikigai, that is, your reason for being?

Ikigai is a Japanese term for a person’s life mission or purpose. The following ikigai exercises will help you reflect on what your personal ikigai might be and how you can live it out more fully.

Here are three ikigai exercises to help you apply the concept to your own life.

Ikigai Exercises: Infuse Your Life With Purpose

Why do you get up in the morning? What gives your life meaning and purpose?

Many people can’t answer these questions. Even worse, they’re stuck in dysfunctional lifestyles that prevent them from ever finding out what their purpose is. If that sounds like you, check out these ikigai exercises. They will help you reflect on what your personal ikigai might be and consider some possible avenues for realizing it in reality.

Exercise 1: Consider Your Ikigai

  • How does the very concept of ikigai make you feel? Does it feel “right”? Does it make sense to you? Why or why not?
  • Describe someone who has a strong ikigai. It could be someone you know personally or some famous person in history (an artist, athlete, inventor, or anyone else). What’s their ikigai? How can you tell?
  • What do you think your ikigai is? (Remember, some people have more than one, so if that’s you, list them all.)
  • If you don’t know your ikigai, why not? What’s standing in the way of you figuring out your purpose in life?

Exercise 2: Use Flow to Find Your Ikigai

Write down the activities that bring you into the flow state. (These are activities that engage you so deeply that time flies and you feel pleasurably focused, creative, and capable. They might be related to your job, hobbies, talents, interpersonal relationships, or any other factors.)

  • Why do you think these particular activities create flow for you?
  • What do these activities all have in common? What recurring themes do they involve?
  • Go deeper: What ikigai (or ikigais) might lie behind your flow activities? What life purpose might these activities be driving you towards?

Exercise 3: Live Your Ikigai

In their book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia outline 10 rules or commandments of ikigai. This exercise helps you to focus on the most important items on that list for your own life.

  • Which of the “10 Commandments of Ikigai” identify things that you most need to focus on to improve your life and fulfill your ikigai? Name two or three.
  • Why are these items currently the most important ones for you and your ikigai?
  • What are one or two specific steps that you can take right now to implement each of your selected commandments?
  • How do you think your life will change if you take these steps? What do you think will happen if you don’t take these steps?
Ikigai Exercises: Discover Your Life Purpose

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Here's what you'll find in our full Ikigai summary:

  • How to apply the concept of ikigai, or life purpose, to your own life
  • Why the people of Okinawa live longer than people anywhere else
  • The 10 commandments of ikigai

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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