Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

by Hector Garcia and  Francesc Miralles

Category: Self-help, philosophy 

Rating: 7/10

What makes you jump out of bed in the morning? The Japanese believe that everyone has an Ikigai, a purpose in life that will bring them the joy of always being busy. The term Ikigai is defined as the intersection of passion, mission, vocation, and profession. Finding happiness in busyness is the reason many Japanese never retire. In fact, the word retire has no direct translation in Japanese. 

Only staying active will make you want to live a hundred years.

Japanese proverb

This calming and well-researched book examines the lives of the residents in the Japanese village of Ogimi, where the average age is 91. The authors interviewed over 100 Japanese citizens who lay out the secrets to their longevity, including how they eat, the way that they move, their collaboration and most importantly, how they find their Ikigai at different stages of life. 

The book goes beyond finding your purpose and dives into related ideas. One thing that was particularly interesting for me was the idea of flow. The concept of flow is to channel your attention towards one specific task or project. The key to ensuring productivity is cutting out distractions like a noisy environment and excess screen time during your rest times and setting strict boundaries around when you are going into a state of deep work and when you rest. These protocols will also aid in bettering your flow and enjoyment of the task. I have already begun implementing some of the suggestions and have found a marked improvement in my daily tasks. 

My favourite quote from Ikigai

“Essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”

Ikigai is not only related to productive busyness. Many of the elderly interviewed for the book found purpose in caring for others, serving the community and contributing to something greater than themselves. For each of them, despite no longer working in a business, they had found their Ikigai for their current stage of life. 

After some reflection on my own life, I’ve determined that Agora and business is something that I do, travelling is something that I love, and having a family is something that I hope to achieve. I have found my reason to get up in the morning, my Ikigai. 

Who should read Ikigai?

If you already have a reason to get out of bed and keep yourself busy, this book is for you. The soft and calm tones in this book coupled with the touching stories of the elderly interviewees make for a relaxing read. 

If you haven’t yet found your Ikigai or are not quite certain what it could be, then this book is definitely for you! Throughout the book, the authors provide tools and perspectives that will help you examine your life and provide direction towards achieving Ikigai. You would be surprised how a few small changes to your day could greatly impact your well-being.