Ikigai- The Japanese secret to a long happy life. By Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles
Fun fact: The average life expectancy in India is 69.73 years, USA is 78.54 years and Japan in 84.55 years.
What do you think is the reason for high life expectancy in Japan? Take a moment to think about it.
If you ever wanted to step back, slow things down and contemplate over your life, I’d suggest you to read this book. Ikigai is a short and easy read that delves in about the lifestyle of centenarians in Okinawa Island of Japan. There are about 35 centenarians for every hundred thousand inhabitants in this island.
What’s even more fascinating about Okinawa are the people and the lifestyle they have chosen for themselves.
This book has an intriguing combination of major life lessons, eating habits, lifestyle and interesting discoveries of Japanese terms.
Ikigai : (Iki & Kai)
It roughly translates to finding the meaning/purpose/ value of life. In a world where people are trying to discover their ‘passion’ and fulfil the meaning of their life, this book is a good headstart.
From what I’ve read, to put it simply the purpose of your life begins by questioning yourself:
- What do you love?
- What are you good at?
- What the world needs?
- And finally, what you can be paid for?
Note: *spoilers ahead* I only jotted down some of the thought provoking pointers to not spoil the book for you. 😊
I tried to fit in the major take-aways with some of my favourite advices:
- Present is all that exists, and is the only thing that we can control. (Ichi-go ichi-e: 期一会)
- Things that we love are like the leaves of a tree. They can fall any moment with a gust of wind. Everything that we have, and everyone we love will disappear at some point. We have to be mindful of this, without being pessimistic about it. It should help us love the present moment and those who surround us in this moment. Keeping this in mind helps us to avoid the immense pain in times of loss.
- A wise person should not ignore life’s pleasures, but should always remain conscious of how easy it is to be enslaved by them. You have to be prepared for those pleasures disappearing in no time.
- We don’t create the meaning of our life, we discover it.
Secret behind the life of a centenarian:
- Japanese stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full.
- Expose yourself to constant change. As important exercise is to body, so is it to the brain. Lack of activity to the brain stagnates it.
- That is because, the things you do out of habit forms a neuronal bridges and makes your brain go in automatic mode. That’s why sometimes you zone out while doing the usual things you do.
- Relax – Slow down a little. Eat and Sleep well. Everything is fine. Life is a marathon, not a 100 m sprint.
- People who live the longest are not the ones who do most exercises but the ones who move the most. Metabolism slows down 90% after 30 minutes of sitting. After 2 hours, good cholesterol drops 20%. Just getting up for 5 minutes is going to get things moving.
And then there’s the philosophy for perfect life by the Japanese: ‘Wabi sabi – わびさび ‘
It is a Japanese concept that shows us the beauty of fleeting, changeable and imperfect nature of the world around us. Beauty can be found in things that are flawed and incomplete. In fact, they believe that such things resemble the natural world more closely.
Its about accepting & appreciating the complexity and valuing the simplicity of life.
The message is clear, but this book focused on longevity rather than the core concept of Ikigai. The structure of the book does not go with the flow. Either way, I must say, I wasn’t disappointed. If you’re looking for an easy read with positive outlook in life, this is the one. Honestly, it is not a ‘major-new-revelations type of book’ but about the things you already knew.
It enables you to focus more on the simple things. The things you’ve been taking granted for so long.
This book left me wondering, “Has it always been that simple afterall?”
(Image Source: Google)