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IKIGAI Worksheet (Printable)

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Ikigai (生き甲斐, “ee-kee-guy”) is a Japanese concept that describes the things that make your life worthwhile; the things that give you a deep sense of purpose, satisfaction, and joy.

The word has recently made its way into Western culture, and it’s sometimes defined as the “secret to a happy life” or “something that brings pleasure or fulfillment.” (This isn’t entirely accurate, but we’ll clear that up below.)

Ikigai is made up of two Japanese words, iki (生き), which means life, and kai (甲斐), meaning effect, result, value, benefit, or worth. Iki and kai come together to give us ikigai: a reason to live/to exist.

(If you’re curious, the “k” turns into a “g” due to a linguistic phenomenon known as ‘rendaku’. In Japanese, voiceless consonants (such as “k” in kai) become voiced (e.g., “g” in gai) when they appear in front of words that make up the second part of a compound.)

Although the concept of ikigai is well known among Japanese people, it was first popularized by psychiatrist Mieko Kamiya in her 1966 book Ikigai ni tsuite – (生きがいについて – On the meaning of life).


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