The Japanese concept of IKIGAI is not a mediation technique nor Zen practice. Its what that has been driving the creatives, the innovators and the entrepreneurs in challenging the norm and to create a better future for humanity.
Disclaimer: I am not an IKIGAI expert, this short read is my view and my understanding from what I have learned. I read about it, it reflected with my earlier understanding of human behavior, so, I am writing about it.
We are hardwired to be unsatisfied, so it is crucial to choose where we channel the dissatisfaction. Let us take a look at 4 parts of IKIGAI the concept of a purposeful life.
Do what you love: By "doing" it does not mean the classification of labor. Things should be more abstract when it comes to the feeling of love. Imagine an aspiring doctor, who instead aspires to save lives, now, the scope of action is wider. Doing what you love is happiness now and in future. The best part is you never need to look for gratification somewhere else. The hardest part of doing what you love is to charge your client, because most of the time your reward is your action. This is probably why most artists and creatives are financially broke.
Do what the world needs: The word NEED should be stressed because the difference between NEEDS and WANTS are getting vague, especially when considering society as a whole. Finding what the world needs is mostly a serendipitous moment, but, make sure to always ask: who does the action affect? what way does it affect? and to what extent is the effect? One should start by realizing that the world needs each and everyone, every contribution matters. From an evolutionary perspective, humans evolved as part of tribes and contribution to the tribe = satisfaction.
Do what you are good at: This goes in hand with “Do what you love”, the key here is to work on the skill that you already love. Being good at something takes dedication and constant improvement through hard work. This is where the love for what you do and the aim for greater good will keep you motivated. There is always room for improvement, as mentioned in the beginning, channel your dissatisfaction to improve what you do and things will take care of itself. This does not mean specialization at a single thing, it could be a combination of things that achieve some specific effect.
Do what you can be rewarded for: Getting paid and rewarded for your contribution should not be neglected. Change is what happens after the action and you need to survive to do the action/s. Rewards will help you focus on your contribution and extend its scope. We know that human brainpower is limited and if half of your focus is on earning daily bread and mere survival it decreases the output. Mostly it affects longterm thinking and hinders higher purpose. I do not wish to speak world politics here but on a short note, this has to do with capitalism and division of labour among the so-called 1st world and 3 world countries (a topic for another article).
In short, be a part of something bigger than yourself, mostly worry about how your actions contribute to social good, improve yourself and earn so that you could focus on the greater good.