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Emily Bidle



Ikigai: The Secret to a Purposeful Life | Emily Bidle | TEDxYouth@ASIJ 

Ikigai: the Japanese secret to living a purposeful life, originating from the island of Okinawa, where its residents have the highest life expectancy in the world.

Once called the land of immortals, the UN states that Okinawa has the highest proportion of centenarians to date.

These Okinawans live by a concept known as ikigai.

"Iki" translates to life, and "gai" describes value.

This term refers to the things that make one's life worthwhile, the reason you get out of bed every morning.

Ikigai stands at the crossroad of four main qualities: what you love, what you're good at, what the world needs, what you can be rewarded for.

The intersection between what you love and what you're good at is your passion.

This is something that is truly meaningful to you and you're willing to make sacrifice for.

Adding to the picture, what the world needs is vital, as serving society gives us this sense of belonging and purpose.

Finally, adding on what you can be rewarded for is essential to make a living out of your purpose.

Now, finding your ikigai requires deep experimentation and self exploration.

By pursuing concrete actions and reflecting back thoughtfully, you can discover how your passion, mission, profession and vocation all intersect to bring more meaning to your career and life.

Take Steve jobs for example.

He was the epitome of success in the technology field, but he wasn't passionate about computer hardware; he was passionate about the tools that would unleash his personal creativity.

His curiosity and interest in calligraphy eventually became the inspiration for Apple and its unique typography.

By exploring your passions and interest, you can engage your mind in novel ways and discover your purpose, your ikigai.

And not only will your ikigai help you live a more meaningful life, but it will also protect you from stress and illness.

According to the American psychosomatic society, possessing a high sense of purpose in life is associated with a reduced risk for mortality and cardiovascular accidents.

So those who feel purpose tend to live healthier lives and are more motivated and resilient.

And I believe that each and every one of us has an ikigai.

You just have to undertake a deep exploration of yourself to find it.

But let me tell you now: it is not easy.

It requires courage, determination, and a willingness to make sacrifices.

In order for me to discover my ikigai, I first had to detach myself from my fears, negativity, and worries.

I would often think I'm too shy to make any contributions to society, and even if I do, who's actually going to care?

What even is my purpose?

I would constantly criticize myself and find faults with who I was what I did.

But after years and years of self-doubt and a lack of confidence, I realized that my only true enemy was myself and that if this continues, I would never be able to experience and discover my full potential.

So I tried convincing myself that my contributions do matter and that I do have a purpose, but I just couldn't seem to believe that.

So that is when I decided to take concrete actions that would build up the confidence inside of me and help me see what I am actually capable of.

Although it took a lot of consideration and a lengthy list of pros and cons, I had joined an entrepreneurial program by the name FutureHack, a boot camp designed for self-motivated leaders who strive to solve global issues.

I set foot into the program with a shy personality, minimal experience in leadership, and the inability to comfortably express my ideas to others.

But throughout the experience, I had met so many passionate, hard-working and inspirational people.

We worked collaboratively under a national project for educational innovation.

It was the first time governors, teachers, and students of Japan had all come together to exchange ideas on how to reform the Japanese education system.

Over 50 teachers and 50 students had attended this movement while government officials watched over and actually took students' ideas into consideration.

It was astonishing to watch students and teachers interacting and pitching their own ideas to one another.

And this new feeling of enthusiasm and ambition sparked the confidence inside of me, and I happily pitched my reformation ideas to the changemakers themselves.

By facing my fear and realizing that I am capable, I no longer felt scared or intimidated.

I finally felt like my opinion truly did matter to people, and I developed this great drive towards making a positive impact on society.

I had uncovered my passion for design and entrepreneurship, and built up this desire to continue expanding and exploring to further discover my true inner self.

The great Dalai Lama has summed up my experience: "With realization of one's own potential and self confidence in one's ability, one can build a better world."

Now, close your eyes.

I am giving you this moment to ask yourself.

What do you love?

What are you good at?

What does the world need?

What can you be rewarded for?

And what would you like to see change in this world?

Now, open your eyes, and open yourself to the opportunities that await you.

I encourage you to branch out and take advantage of these opportunities, despite your insecurities.

Keep your passion in mind.

Let go of your fear.

Go pursue that thing you've been holding yourself back from for so long.

Shift your mindset from viewing things as obstacles and see them as opportunities.

Eventually, your purpose may unfold.

Go out and discover your ikigai.


Thank you.