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For 2025 Board Exam
CBSE Competency Based Questions:
Class 10
Class 12

Start With A Purpose

Updated: Sep 1, 2020

Why do you get up every morning to start a day? What is the reason for your existence?

These questions might seem absurd at the very first glance, but this is what people spend their whole life for, i.e, in quest of the answers to these questions. What is the purpose of your life? For some it might be living a peaceful and healthy life, others might want to help others, for some keeping their families happy might be the priority, while for some others having good relations with people may be the goal. The reason may be any but it’s important to have one to keep you moving.

According to Japanese, everybody has an Ikigai, or what can be called raison d’etre by French philosophers. Some people might already know their Ikigai, while others may be in search of it. However, one would wonder what an Ikigai is. Ikigai comprises two words- ‘Iki’ meaning life or living; and ‘gai’ which refers to value, effect, result or usefulness. To best understand Ikigai it becomes prerequisite to refer to the venn diagram designed by Mark Winn:

This diagram describes Ikigai as the best possible intersection of an individual’s Passion, Profession, Vocation and Mission. There’s a further interaction of all of these four elements:

  • Passion and Profession converge to what one is good at.

  • Profession and Vocation find their place where one is paid well.

  • Vocation and Mission are something the world needs from an individual.

  • Mission and Passion are what an individual loves.

To comprehend, an Ikigai is what you live for, the reason for your being, the purpose of your life, your goals and the reason that motivates you to get up every morning. Any work without a purpose is a mere act, aimless, resulting in nothing. Every individual organism in this world has a purpose, an Ikigai, what is required, is to patiently discover it inside oneself. The venn diagram by Mark Winn could be of great assistance to find your Ikigai.

But how does an Ikigai help an individual? Japanese believe that an Ikigai is the secret to a long and happy life. Ikigai brings satisfaction, happiness, and meaning to one’s life. The book Ikigai, by Hector Gargia and Francesc Miralles mentions the ‘Blue Zones’, which are the places in the world where people live longer, on average, than in the rest of the world. Japan, and the island Okinawa in particular, are such a region. A factor that plays an important role in the health and vitality of the residents of these regions is to have ‘a goal’ in their lives: ‘Ikigai’.

In addition to having an Ikigai, Japanese and Okinawians say that “Whatever you do, don’t retire”; this is also what keeps a person’s willingness to live alive. Another most common saying of Japanese is “Hara hachi bu”- which means “Fill your belly to 80 percent”. This manner of eating may not give short term pleasure but will make us happier in the long term. And the last concept that is another requisite for the longevity of life is to stay connected to people and local communities. This connectedness of people is termed as moai, which is an informal group of people with common interests who look out for one another.

Thereupon, to summarize in one sentence- Ikigai, persistence,healthy lifestyle and connectedness with people is what ultimately makes one’s life worthwhile. Begin with a purpose, be determined to your work, eat healthy, stay associated with your local community and life will go on.


Book- Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Gargia and Francesc Miralles


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