Ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced [ikiɡai]) is the Japanese equivalent of the French, raison d'être. In English, these translate respectively as: 'something important one lives for', and 'a reason for being'.

Although the meanings are similar, cultural attitudes towards the concept they embody differ.

Few possess a raison d’être, but those who go through life with an enduring passion for something, can be consumed by it to the detriment of social relationships and a "normal" lifestyle. Thus, there are seen to be both desirable and undesirable aspects to having a raison d’être.

Everyone, according to the Japanese, has a hidden ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is regarded as being very important, since it is believed that discovery of one's ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning to life.

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