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Non-English Term


Japanese for 'reason for being' — a relationship of the values and features that make life worthwhile for an individual, incorporating passion, mission, profession, and vocation.


The origin of the word goes back to the Heian period in Japan (794 to 1185). “Gai comes from the word kai (“shell” in Japanese) which were deemed highly valuable, and from there ikigai derived as a word that means value in living.” (source)

Everyday Use

This is a natural fit for an everyday use — it literally connects our circumstances with our lived realities. It helps us to balance that which is important with that which is sacred -- that which is immediate with that which makes us passionate. Some days (most days), we will get this balance wrong. The trick is to recognize that it's a balance-in-progress, and to give each piece its due.