Do you ever feel like your life lacks purpose? Are you craving to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life? If so, then it’s time to look to the East.
Ikigai, the book, tells us about life on the Japanese island of Okinawa.
Okinawa is one of the world’s “blue zones“—places where people live to be 100 or more. On that island is Ogimi, more famously known as “The Village of Longevity.” Residents there have the world’s highest life expectancy.
What do they do to live such long and happy lives?
Summary of The Book Ikigai
Quick Summary: Ikigai is the Japanese philosophy of living a long and happy life. Knowing and practicing our ikigai allows us to devote our time and energy to fulfill our life’s purpose. It brings meaning and passion to our personal and professional lives, helping us work optimally, live more fully, and form great relationships.
This summary will help you discover the purpose of your life, called ikigai, and reveal to you how you can use your ikigai to live a long, happy, and meaningful life.
Ikigai in Japanese means ‘“a reason for being,” “the thing that makes life worth living,” or “a reason to jump out of bed in the morning.”
“Ikigai” is your “reason for existing” or “raison d’être.”
Theme of The Book Ikigai
The main theme of the book is that by discovering our ikigai, we can increase our lifespan, productivity, well-being, and sense of purpose in life.
Perhaps the more crucial idea in the book is that all of us, regardless of where we live or come from, can easily find our own ikigai.
Written by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles, “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” is an international bestseller that introduces us to a life-guiding Eastern philosophy.
If you’re looking for your life’s purpose, you’ll like this engaging and insightful book.
- Get the book: Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life
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García and Miralles draw on their own experiences and research to give us a detailed yet engaging look into how we may find and use our ikigai.
4 Main Components of Ikigai
García and Miralles identify the following four key elements of ikigai:
- Passion: What you love. Passion is about finding something that brings you joy and excitement.
- Mission: What you’re good at. Mission is about understanding why this passion matters to you.
- Vocation: what the world needs. Vocation is about turning your passion into an occupation.
- Profession: what you can be paid for. Profession is about finding success in your career.
Together, these four elements bring out your sense of purpose and meaning in life.
They inspire you to pursue what truly makes you happy and fulfilled.
The authors give clear examples of how we can include these ideas in our daily routine.
7 Lessons From Ikigai
From the book, we learn that to get a sense of purpose, direction, and fulfillment in life, we should:
- Slow down and savor life. There’s no reason to rush through life, racing from one experience to another without stopping to smell the roses. We need to cherish the present moment and relish its joys rather than postpone our happiness so that we might live later.
- Keep working on your passion project without retiring. When you find something that you love doing every day, it is no longer work. Why stop doing it, even if you’re 65? Your purposeful work could be something you’ve always done, something you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t find time to do, or something you learned to do. Staying active is one of the best keys to a long life. Studies show that retirement can lead to early death.
- Never overeat, and never fill your stomach to the full. The Okinawans eat only until their stomachs are about 80% full, then stop. This is called “hara hachi bu.” Science supports this custom as it helps to extend one’s life by improving digestion and sleep. This eating pattern also prevents overeating, which is a major cause of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
- Smile and laugh. The Okinawan people recommend that we smile a lot and laugh our hearts out, as it relieves stress and makes us more cheerful and hopeful. They encourage us to spend time with our friends doing things that make us happy.
- Surround yourself with people who truly care about you. Okinawans believe that they live longer because they surround themselves with good friends. Science backs this up, and research shows that our friends are indeed the greatest source of our happiness. They give us a space to safely share our ideas and fears, encourage our attempts, and celebrate our successes. Friends also reduce feelings of overthinking and loneliness, both known risk factors for depression and physical illnesses.
- Exercise and dance. The ikigai philosophy tells us that we have to keep fit if we want to live a long and fulfilling life. Okinawans walk a lot and often gather in the evening to practice the traditional Okinawan dance. They think that we cannot follow our ikigai properly unless we have a healthy body. Science supports this, and research has proven that exercise can not only boost our mood but also keep away depression.
- Live in the moment and feel grateful for the good things in your life. Ikigai cannot occur in the absence of mindfulness and gratitude. When we are mindful, we do not waste time worrying about the future or overthinking the past. And when we are grateful, we find happiness in what we have rather than being upset about what we don’t.
The Ogimi people place a high value on spending time with friends and family, as well as living a life as stress free as possible.
History And Culture of Ikigai
Ikigai is a combination of two Japanese words, “iki”, meaning “life,” and “gai”, meaning “worth.”
Together, they refer to one’s life’s worth, meaning, or purpose. Ikigai is a core concept in Japanese philosophy.
The Japanese see ikigai as an essential aspect of their identity, closely tied to their career or calling. Ikigai surrounds their lives and work, and has long shaped their social and cultural norms.
They truly hold that their ikigai is the reason why they exist.
So they make it a point to find it and live and work toward fulfilling this meaningful purpose in their lives.
García and Miralles tell us how the Japanese have always cultivated their ikigai to find joy whether they are alone, at work, or with others.
Finding Your Ikigai
Finding your Ikigai is mostly a process of self-discovery. Moreover, ikigai is a life-long process that needs unending attention and affection.
The book “Ikigai” tell us that we must take time to explore what we love, what we are good at, what the world needs, and what we can be paid for.
Once we identify the activity that lies at the intersection of those four elements, we can devote our full interest and focus to it.
We can then pursue a job path that rouses our curiosity, fulfills our passions, and helps us to live a life we will be proud of.
The authors share tips and tools to help identify our ikigai, including goal-setting techniques, work-life balance recommendations, and gratitude and mindfulness practices.
They also talk about how important community and social connections are in finding and sustaining one’s ikigai.
Benefits of Ikigai
Using Ikigai has multiple benefits, including increased self-awareness, improved mental health and well-being, better relationships with others, and more meaningful work.
Ikigai has a range of positive effects on physical and mental health. It teaches us how to live a happier, more fulfilling, passionate, and authentic life.
The authors present evidence suggesting people with a strong sense of ikigai live longer, healthier lives with lower rates of stress and depression.
They also highlight ikigai’s function in promoting social connections, creativity, and overall well-being.
Ikigai In The Modern World
“Ikigai” offers practical advice on how to find the intersection of what you love and what you are good at in today’s world.
Garcia and Miralles propose that we can easily identify our own unique ikigai in the modern world and use it to create balance, fulfillment, and happiness in life.
They reveal we can find our Ikigai through self-discovery, mindfulness, and gratitude, and apply it to our relationships, work-life balance, and creativity.
There are challenges in sustaining our “ikigai” in today’s world.
We are under social pressure to conform to cultural norms and peer expectations. We often prioritize money and success over happiness.
To overcome these modern toxic behaviors, we need courage (to learn) as well as flexibility (to unlearn) as we go out to find our “ikigai.”
Once we realize what our ikigai is, we can navigate the new, unknown hardships of modern life and still remain true to our values and goals.
The book “Ikigai” shares many anecdotes and experiences from people who have found their own ikigai, as well as practical guidance and motivation to help us find ours.
García and Miralles promise us that finding our “ikigai” is not an impossible or complicated task. They also tell us that we must consciously nurture it once we find it.
Ikigai is a never-ending process that requires time and love, much like we need to water our plants regularly.
Both reviewers and readers have praised Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.
Reviewers have lauded the book as a “thought-provoking,” “insightful,” and “inspiring” read, while readers have enjoyed the inspirational stories in it.
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher, who writes on mental well-being, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).
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