What’s your reason to wake up every day?

reasons to wake up every day

For a black girl born in a remote farm in rural Mississippi, career prospects were limited to being a cook, a maid, or a teacher at a segregated school. But such circumstances did not stop this spirited young woman from finding the true purpose of her life. She was advised by her grandmother to get the hang of household chores, as she would have to do it herself someday. Of course, she followed her grandmother’s instructions diligently. But a small voice inside her always said, ‘This will not be your life. Your life will be more than just about hanging clothes on a line.’

As we know today, this is the story of celebrated talk show host, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey. Even as a young girl belonging to a marginalised community, she knew she was meant to be great. She did not know exactly what she wanted to be, but she was certain about what she didn’t want to be. “I believe there’s a calling for all of us. I know that every human being has value and purpose. The real work of our lives is to become aware. And awakened. To answer the call,” Oprah writes on her website.

Fortunate are those who find their purpose early on in life. But not all of us are so lucky. After all, finding our life purpose is not a time-bound task. Life is an ever-changing journey, and we could be discovering new things with every step. But finding that true calling offers a sense of clarity. It illuminates the path we ought to tread on. American writer Mark Twain sums this thought well in his quote:  “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”

When we’ve found our purpose, life becomes a journey towards that destination.

For some the purpose might be to serve the needy, for some to heal people, and others to inspire people through their words. To each his own. No matter what our purpose is, it’s essentially the reason for our existence. It drives us to wake up every morning and take a step closer to the bigger goal. Having said all this, finding our reason for living isn’t easy. There’s no one rule book either. But we all hope to find it at some point in our lives. Some strive to discover their calling through constant experimentation and self-exploration. However, a more tried and tested concept exists, and it has its roots in Japan—Ikigai, the happiness and longevity quotient of the Japanese.

Ikigai when translated in Japanese means ‘your reason to get out of bed.’  A combination of two words—iki and kai, iki means life and kai is usefulness. Ikigai is a blend of four important components—passion (what you love), mission (what the world needs), vocation (what you are good at) and profession (what do you get paid for). The concept is represented by a Mathematical Venn diagram where each component is represented by a circle. These circles are interconnected and at the intersection (overlapping) of these four circles is Ikigai. For instance, if you love writing (passion), and the world needs writers (mission), you are good at writing (vocation) and you are paid for writing (profession). Then your purpose in life is writing. In short, according to Ikigai, all of us have a definite life purpose. And it is possible to discover it by introspecting our lives.

The day we find our purpose, life begins to blossom. We discover our reason for existence. While some of us find our purpose instantly, others struggle to find it.  We may find our purpose by just living and experimenting in the journey of life. It may dawn on us in tough times or happy moments. Or we may find it with the help of Ikigai. No matter how we find our calling, the key is to have clarity. After all, when we’ve found our purpose, life becomes a journey towards that destination. As Russian philosopher, Fyodor Dostoyevsky sums up beautifully, “The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”


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