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Home >> Books  >> Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia…
 

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia…

Among many things the Japanese are praised for, diligence is what they are best known for. People of Japan are known to work long hours with dedication, taking pride in their sincerity and commitment. No surprise then the Japanese language doesn’t have a word for retirement. While this work ethic sounds fascinating, not many of us would advocate burning ourselves out. There is enough and more evidence emerging out of scientific research that indicates that working long hours reduces our life span. But, as if to prove these researches wrong, Japan has the most number of centenarians walking the streets. In fact, the island of Okinawa is one of the five Blue Zones in the world with the maximum number of centenarians for every 100,000 people across the globe. So, what’s the secret of these centenarians? How do they lead long, productive lives? The answer is Ikigai.

Roughly translated as ‘a sense of purpose’ or ‘a reason to jump out of bed each morning’, Ikigai has been a cornerstone in the lives of the Japanese people for long. It has helped them discover the purpose of their lives and thereby, lead a happy life. Through their international bestseller, Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, authors Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles have attempted to share this wisdom with the rest of the world.

Right at the start, the book clarifies that Ikigai is not merely an abstract philosophy but an implementable lifestyle. It taps effortlessly into the authors’ experience of living in Japan, recording the healthy habits of the Okinawans. One of the most interesting facts the book brings out is the Okinawans’ commitment to living by Hara hachi bu, the 80 percent diet rule and their preference to walk rather than ride motorised vehicles.

According to the Japanese, finding our flow is related to Takumi for it helps us find joy in every task we do, no matter how mundane they might be


The book proceeds to delve into life’s purpose and how to find it. Here, the book introduces us to two important questions: “What makes us enjoy doing something that we forget about our worries in life?” and “When are we the happiest?” It addresses these questions through the concept of Takumi, which literally means ‘artisan’ in Japanese. The Japanese Takumi are considered the best in the world for their honed skillset achieved through years of dedicated practice. Interestingly, Takumi is what every Okinawan follows to come a step closer to finding their Ikigai.

Yet another interesting chapter of the book is where the authors talk about finding the flow in life—”to persevere” or “to stay firm by doing one’s best”. According to the Japanese, finding our flow is related to Takumi for it helps us find joy in every task we do, no matter how mundane they might be. To find this flow, the authors list spiritual practices that can calm the mind and let positive thoughts prosper. In this section, the readers are introduced to neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy and Zen Buddhist Shoma Morita’s therapy with real life examples.

All in all, Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life has touched upon a variety of nuances when it comes to lifestyle and spiritual disciplines. The authors of the book have done a fine job of explaining unfamiliar concepts using relatable examples and stories. The book is an easy read—a treasure trove of information and inspiration that makes Ikigai seem like an achievable goal.

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