The most popular genre of nonfiction, self-help books have been informal guides on everything for decades—but did you know the earliest extant forms dated back to Ancient Egypt? Or that the term “self-help” itself was taken from a book touting mid-Victorian era liberalism titled "Self Help" by Samuel Smiles published in 1859?
Japan too has a long and robust self-help industry, with some historical examples being "Hagakure" by Tsunetomo Yamamoto or "The Book of Five Rings" by Musashi Miyamoto. Just from looking around my local bookshops, I noticed about three-quarters of today’s nonfiction sections had some manner of a self-help book or guide in them. Although available in various genres, one of the most popular involves finding your purpose in life—your ikigai.
The concept of ikigai
Having a reason to live seems almost a given in a country with one of the highest elderly populations and longest life expectancies. Ikigai, which comes from iki (生き life) and gai (甲斐 value/worth), is essentially what makes your life fulfilling to you.
Summarized in the broadest of terms, ikigai is:
- What you love
- What the world needs
- What you are good at
- What you are paid for
All rolled into one concept. Basically, if you wake up in the morning and there’s something in your life you like doing, you find it satisfying to do and you’re good at doing it, you’ve already found your ikigai. It doesn’t have to be a paying job either—it could be a hobby, an activity, whatever.
If you’d like to learn more about the concept itself, please check out this ikigai article by Lucy Dayman. It’s often touted as a means of helping yourself transition to different stages or changes in your life as well.
Is it doable?
Click here to read more.
- External Link