What is your Ikigai?

The Japanese define success and living your life purpose at the intersection of doing what:

  • You love,
  • Are good at,
  • Can be paid to do, and
  • The world needs.

If you already have a clear vision of what success looks like in your future, you can use this invitation to validate your vision.  It will work best if you follow the practice video below, but the basic steps are:

Inquiring from your gut

Close the eyes, place the hands on the lower abdomen, and breathe while focusing on the breath coming into and out of the lower abdomen.  After a few long, deep, slow breaths, ask yourself: “What is the most important thing I can do with my life?” When the answer has come to you, write it down.

Inquiring from your heart

Close the eyes, place the hands on the heart space, and breathe while focusing on the breath coming into and out of the heart space.  The chest rising and relaxing.  After a few long, deep, slow breaths from the heart space, ask yourself: “What is the activity that makes me feel the best, that warms my heart? When the answer has come to you, write it down.

Inquiring from your thinking brain

Close the eyes, place the hands on either side of the head above the ears, and breathe while focusing on the thinking brain. After a few long, deep, slow breaths, ask yourself: “When I think long and hard about my vision for my life, I realize I want to (fill in the blank).  When the answer has come to you, write it down.

Be curious about your responses

Read each response and notice how you feel while reading each. What is something new you noticed? What, if anything, were you able to validate? What is your overall takeaway from this practice?  You may need repeat the practice until you’re clear on your responses and that’s okay!


In this practice, you processed information in a certain order.  First, you relied on the enteric nervous system (the brain in your gut), followed by the nervous system in your heart, followed by the brain in your head. All of these seemingly separate nervous systems are all part of our larger singular nervous system, yet, we tend to make decisions from the head, from the thinking brain.

We can engage the whole self in the process of making any decision when we connect first to our “gut feeling” about a decision and then notice how it feels in the heart.  Finally, apply the logic of the thinking brain.  See what happens if you try this. You just might find your Ikigai.

The Self-Care Solutions newsletter allows you to personalize your approach to health and wellbeing.  It offers you choices.  Safe choices.  Evidence-based choices. The articles allow you to try on different options and see what works for you. Think of each as an invitation. While not a substitute for care by your medical team, we’re here to support you in your quest for wellbeing!

Research on the Impact of Ikigai on Health and Wellbeing

Mental and Physical Benefits of Ikigai

Research on Life Purpose and Meaning

Additional Research on Life Purpose





Dr. Ruthann Russo

I love assisting people on their hero’s journey towards self-transformation. A passion which is born comes partly from personal experience – I view my own life as a series of self-transformations. I have 20+ years of education, training and experience, including being the CEO and founder of two health technology start-ups and global wellness consultant to Fortune 100 corporations.

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