2 Powerful Japanese Words to Live By

One of the reasons I've been drawn to Japanese culture lately isn't my love for sushi. I've realized that Japanese people have a singular and captivating outlook on life.


A particular language is limited because there aren't enough words or sayings that truly capture the magnitude of going through the human experience. Knowing another language can be invaluable because of the reassurance of finding the right words to express something that wouldn't be quite possible in one's native language. Understanding multiple languages is complementary.


Although my knowledge of the Japanese language is extremely insufficient, I've encountered 2 powerful Japanese words that have helped me put things into an elevated perspective.



Ikigai (ee-key-guy)


Doing a Google search on ikigai leads to nuanced results. This is probably a reflection of how intricate this word is to describe.


A Japanese to English translator will tell you that ikigai is "reason to live," but this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you've ever pondered on the enigma of why you're alive then you've contemplated on your ikigai.


The guiding principle of ikigai is to know what is your purpose. Ikigai is a lot more than knowing what you want to be when you grow up; it's about knowing why you even want to live to grow up.


There are four elements to determining what your ikigai is. The harmony between these elements is essential.

The center of the diagram is the sweet spot

Knowing what you love. Doing something because of the joy it brings you regardless of a monetary reward can help you determine what your passions are. Another idea to keep in mind when figuring out whether you truly love something is the length of time you've been enjoying it.


Knowing what you're good at. The things you're good at often get recognized by others and they're not too hard for you to do. What you're good at unquestionably takes effort, but you excel at it in some capacity.


Knowing what the world needs. The demand for what you do is indicative of how much the world needs it. However, the needs of the world aren't always clearly defined. You can offer something to the world that it never knew it needed.


Knowing whether you can get paid for it. Your passions, talents and potential contributions aren't so sustainable if you cannot make a decent living off of them.



Ganbaru (gahn-ba-roo)


Another fairly popular Japanese word is ganbaru, which is a verb that translates to "I will do my best." If you're on the quest to learn Japanese then you'll most likely encounter the word ganbaru to keep you motivated.


When you pair your ikigai with a healthy dose of ganbaru you get the perfect recipe for a vibrant, fulfilling life. The fact of the matter is that once you've established your ikigai you can't say you've made it. You need to ganbaru to really unlock and maintain your ikigai.



To Wrap Up


We all get a name at birth and we naturally want to name the infinite things life presents to us. Adding words to your vocabulary is an enriching process. In the Japanese language, ikigai holds the elements to consider when trying to make life worth living. Ganbaru reminds you that you need to keep swimming to reap the benefits.



Do you think you'll use ikigai and ganbaru is some way in your journey through life? I'd love to get your thoughts on this. Leave a comment below and join me on Facebook @pursuitofeureka.


Sending you my best wishes, Yerika.

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