The Japanese concept of ikigai refers to a strong sense of purpose that leads to lifelong happiness. How can you discover what your unique ikigai is?

The past few months have been nothing like we’ve ever experienced before. And as this year comes to a close, it’s a good time to set the stage for new beginnings. You’ve probably heard of shinrin yoku (forest bathing), a Japanese practice that encourages us to commune with nature to improve our wellbeing. Another Japanese concept gaining relevance internationally is ikigai, which is a philosophy that Japan Airlines is actively introducing to its global community of curious travellers.

It is difficult to directly translate what ikigai means in English but it refers to finding purpose in life. What is the reason for which you wake up every morning? By following the essential principles defined by ikigai, you can learn how to live a more fulfilling and happier life.

Japan Airlines has always been a window into the country’s deep culture, and the company decided to start a conversation about ikigai so that more people may be inspired to find greater purpose while becoming their most authentic selves in the process. The introduction of this concept is in line with the airline’s commitment to omotenashi—the art and intricacy of welcoming guests with thoughtful service.

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The series of videos created and shared on social media by Japan Airlines features Ken Mogi, the neuroscientist and author of Awakening Your Ikigai, in conversation with Akira Mitsumasu, Japan Airlines’ vice president of global marketing. Mogi explains how ikigai is “something that we take for granted because it is like the air we breathe”. How then do we become more aware of it and consciously take action to find, create and maintain it?

Nobody can give you a simple answer, as the way to find your unique ikigai lies in only yourself. There are, however, principles that can be applied to help you uncover it. In his book, Mogi has identified five foundation pillars that will guide you to learning more about yourself, in order to achieve the goal of ikigai.

The first is “starting small”, which can apply to everything you do in life. Second comes “releasing yourself” by letting go of your illusory self, or accepting yourself as you truly are, which is the simplest way of finding happiness in life. The third pillar is a combination of “harmony and sustainability” or being mindful of the impact of your actions on the environment, the people around you, as well as the society at large. Next is “finding joy in small things”, and lastly, “being in the here and now”, which delves into the appreciation of the transient and ephemeral pleasures in life.

These simple descriptions summarise the complexities of ikigai, which will take plenty of self-reflection to truly find. To begin your journey of ikigai, visit Japan Airlines' Youtube channel or Facebook page, where you can also learn this unique approach to finding life’s true meaning.

Find out how to Awaken Your Ikigai with Japan Airlines here