Randy Krum
President of InfoNewt.
Data Visualization and Infographic Design

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Ikigai - Visualizing the Japanese Concept of Life's Purpose


Ikigai is a Japanese concept that explains how a person can enjoy life. To illustrate this concept, a 4-sided Venn diagram was created by Dan Buettner (below), showing what it takes for one to discover their own. However, David Mccandless saw the original diagram and found it flawed. Above, we have his version of Ikigai- Japanese concept to enchance work, life & sense of worth diagram where he has theorized what should be inserted in the missing gaps, as well as giving the sections different sizes to more accurately represent the importance of each.

Ikigai is an interesting self-development concept from Japan, a prism for potentially seeing how to bring satisfaction, happiness & meaning to life. The direct translation is the “happiness of being busy.”

The original diagram was created by British community activist Marc Winn in 2014 from a TED Talk on Longevity by writer Dan Buettner.

Sadly, pedantically, the four-way Venn in the diagram is broken, from a technical POV. If you look closely, two sectors – love & paid for, good at & world needs – don’t intersect uniquely.

So I fixed that and theorised what those missing sectors might contain, while making a few other tweaks.

Got stuck a bit with “what the world needs” category which has a touch of entrepreneurial zeal about it. Not everyone can impact ‘the world’. But couldn’t come up with a variation that worked.

What’s interesting is that two intersections make something positive – passion, mission etc. But three intersections create a discomforting pinch point i.e. if you good at something, it’s what you love and what the world needs, but doesn’t earn you money, you’re “struggling”.


Found on Information is Beautiful

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Reader Comments (7)

A round of applause for your blog post. Really thank you! Keep writing.
January 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Smith
Great proposition.
Can i translate it in french with your name under the chart ?
February 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterFlorence Glouche
You need to reach out to David McCandless at InformationIsBeatutiful.net to get permission from the original designer.
February 27, 2018 | Registered CommenterRandy
I’ve recently read a book on this. It’s a great concept and one we can all benefit from adopting. It’s a bit of a mindset change for most in today’s western society however. But certainly worth pursueing for happiness and longevity.
March 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMary-Anne
Wow... this is a really good version of the diagram. a 2.0!! Nice work!
April 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGoh
Really great. Can I translate it in Dutch and use it with your name?
September 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Smets
You'll have to ask David McCandless and the team and InformationIsBeautiful.net for permission
September 6, 2018 | Registered CommenterRandy
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