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Ikigai

Imagine feeling excited about jumping out of bed each day. You are organised, healthy, calm and mindful.

You understand that every little thing you do is as important as each other, and that's how you see life as a whole rather than meaningless parts.

The concept of Ikigai, meaning "your reason for being", is "the reason you get up in the morning". It has evolved from traditional Japanese principles on wellness, a concept that helps people feel motivated towards living a fulfilling life.

In some ways, Ikigai is our "life force", a feeling of being "alive" and entirely in the moment while feeling hopeful towards the future.

Ikigai is often used as a framework to help individuals discover and pursue a life that is meaningful and is usually referred to as the Venn Diagram of Purpose (identifying your passion, mission, profession and vocation). 

At Ikigai Psychology, we support you in discovering your identity and purpose. Your identity is much more than who you are as a professional, and the Purpose Venn Diagram is not always an accurate reflection of the true meaning of Ikigai. 

Though what we are paid to do is a big part of our identity, we are so much more than our jobs. Ikigai is understanding the self beyond our roles at work and embracing who we are.

Ikigai Psychology is a place to explore your thoughts and feelings about your identity and understand who you are in different roles, relationships, and environments during transitional phases of your life. 

A person who is most likely to feel a sense of ikigai is convinced of his or her need to live, is clearly aware of his or her goal of “self-preservation” and is fully committed to that goal.

In other words, a person who has a personal mission in his or her life that he or she proactively pursues experiences Ikigai at the highest level."

-Meiko Kamiya

Purpose

Dr Mieko Kamiya, the Mother of Ikigai in Japan, was a Psychiatrist who treated Leprosy patients at Nagashima Aiseien Sanatorium. Kamiya was fluent in several languages, including English, French and German. She was not only a psychiatrist who dealt with existential questions, she also translated the original of Marcus Aureliu's meditations and some of Micheal Foucault's books. She was a doctor, teacher and advocate for vulnerable populations in society, loved by many.

Patients with Leprosy in the 1950s were outcasted from Japanese society. Since this disease caused visible deformities and was not well understood, many patients were isolated from their communities in hopes of stopping the spread of the disease. 

Under the 1953 leprosy prevention law, Leprosy patients were forced to live in sanatoriums located in mountains or on remote islands. Leprosy patients were forced to have abortions and were sterilised to prevent them from having children. These patients often lived in harsh, overcrowded facilities, and many patients tried to take their own lives. 

Dr Mieko Kamiya studied Leprosy patients to find out what gave them a sense of meaning and purpose despite the harsh and lonely environment they lived in. In a sense, she studied trauma and recovery and devised the seven following needs for Ikigai. 

7 IKIGAI NEEDS

Japanese Psychiatrist Dr Mieko Kamiya proposes that there are seven needs for Ikigai:

1. Life Satisfaction
2. Change and Growth
3. A Bright Future (Hope)
4. Community and Connection
5. Freedom of Choice
6. Self-Actualisation
7. Meaning and Value


Dr Kamiya's study on the 7 Needs of Ikigai shows there are a variety of needs to fulfil to live a meaningful life. Compared to the Spanish Venn Diagram of Purposeful, the 7 Needs of Ikigai provides a more holistic look at our well-being and purpose in life. 

Brief History of Ikigai

1966

Dr Mieko Kamiya (1914-1979) was a Japanese Psychiatrist who treated Leprosy patients at Nagashima Aiseien Sanatorium. She was known for translating books on philosophy and wrote 生きがいについて "What Makes Our Life Worth Living".

2006

Yuzo Ota publishes "A Women With Demons- The Life of Kamiya Mieko" An Autobiography on Dr Kamiya's life. Ota wrote about how Kamiya was a complex individual at times struggling with her own purpose and grief. 

2013

The term “blue zones” was first coined by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Explorer and Fellow and journalist, during an exploratory project he led in 2004. After an expedition to Okinawa, Japan, in 2000 to investigate the longevity there, he explored other regions with reportedly high longevity. He gave a TED Talk on the Blue Zones, five areas around the world where he found many people living beyond the ages of one hundred. Dan proposed that centenarians living in Okinawa were doing so because they had Ikigai, "A reason for Which You Get Up In the Morning", and "Moai", long-standing friendships and community.

2017

Spanish Author Hector Garcia released "Ikigai: A Secret to a Long and Happy Life". He discussed the Venn Diagram of Purpose: the intercept between your passion, mission, profession and vocation. This Venn diagram was translated from Spanish to English, and the word "Ikigai" was inserted into the middle and replaced the star representing purpose. Hector discussed how having Ikigai can support you with your well-being.

Following Hector Garcia's book, Neuro Scientist Dr Ken Moji released "The Little Book of IKIGAI: The Essential Japanese Way to Finding Your Purpose in Life". Dr Moji refers to his Five Pillar Framework, offering the reader guidance and the foundation to explore their own Ikigai. 

The Five Pillars include:

  • Pillar 1: Starting small

  • Pillar 2: Releasing yourself

  • Pillar 3: Harmony and sustainability

  • Pillar 4: The joy of little things

  • Pillar 5: Being in the here and now

2019

Tunteeya Yamaoka opened Ikigai Psychology Clinic in Brisbane to support the community in response to the growing mental health crisis. Tunteeya's mission and purpose is to spread the true meaning of Ikigai to the world. 

A message from our founder

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"Having Japanese origin, I understand the nuances of Ikigai, the energy source that gives us the power to live on. It is a beautiful word with an attractive meaning that is difficult to translate directly. 

The Venn diagram of purpose portrays that to have Ikigai, you need to be in a career that fulfils your legacy and your passion. This is an enormous amount of pressure to carry, which can often lead to a sense of anxiety. For some, their job may be their Ikigai, their reason for being. But not for all. 

Your role in society does not define Ikigai. Ikigai is a feeling you experience in a flow state. People experience this state when they are at one with an experience that makes them feel alive."

Tunteeya Yamaoka

Psychologist and Founder of Ikigai Psychology Clinic

Get the support you need

Book an appointment online to speak to a Psychologist at Ikigai Psychology Clinic.

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Learn More About Therapy 

We vary in our needs, personalities, and the issues we face.

Different therapies address this diversity and provide practical approaches for each individual's unique situation.

Depending on your conditions and concerns, some therapies may be more suitable for you than others. 

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