Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

“Life is not a problem to be solved. Just remember to have something that keeps you busy doing what you love while being surrounded by the people who love you.”

By Héctor García and Francesc Miralles, Translated by Heather Cleary |
⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 out of 5 Stars)

After Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover, timely that I received advanced birthday presents (woohoo!), and the book Ikigai was part of the loot.

Be led by curiosity, and keep busy by doing things that fill you with meaning and happiness.

I had many annotations in the books and I’d like to remember them so I can further explore them via research material that I can also share with everyone. I’d probably tackle some of these things in another post because it is deemed to be highlighted, expounded, and broaden to get more insights and exchange of trajectories.

This book wasn’t hard to finish. It was easy to read and you’d probably make mental notes if some of the things stipulated in the book you find yourself doing already; and if not, you’d probably want to try.

We were always told that life is too short. It’s true. I believe that still. But, reading stories of supercentenarians or those who reached over 110 years old, the longevity of life has something to do with passion, happiness, and the purpose you put into it or you discover. Either or, you may very well comply.

Ikigai translates to “the happiness of always being busy.” And not just being literally busy like how we do in our present work, but the craft of moving, of having passion, and following our desires which concludes to happiness is what ikigai means.

Having a purpose in life is so important in Japanese culture that our idea of retirement simply doesn’t exist here.

Dan Buettner, National Geographic

Active Mind, Youthful Body

Japanese gives importance to both mind and body. It is not just eating healthy that is essential but also taking care of one’s mind. In the world that we live in, stress could be part of our daily lives. We approach it in various manners, react to our stressors in a different light, let it consume us, or just simply let it go unacknowledged.

I work with various people with different characters, upbringing, and educational backgrounds. But given the latter, some of them, despite their educational achievement couldn’t guarantee a sound mind to be decisive, assertive, or just simply understand on a deeper level–we are too, at some point. This probably, I think, is a cause of the lack of brain workout.

Just as lack of physical exercise has negative effects on our bodies and mood, a lack of mental exercise is bad for us because it cause our neurons and neural connections to deteroriate–and, as a result, reduces our ability to react to our surroundings.

In other words: constantly use your brain, your mind–and this is not because I am harsh, it was proven by science. This section is what I took note to explore further given related literature and I shall share more on what I know about this one in another blog or article.

Our Ikigai

The authors say that if you haven’t found your ikigai yet, perhaps it is the time to discover it. For me, our life’s longevity cannot just be measured by its literal component–reaching the age of 100 or more–but rather, on how well we lived our lives, our purpose, and how we have contributed/shared and inspired others. Quality over quantity could be the simplest term for this thought, most probably.

It’s impressive to know how the Japanese live their every day–it is full of positivity, finding perfection in the imperfection, eating good food, and being surrounded by friends and loved ones. Not all of us could be fortunate to have all of these attributes in our daily lives, but if we have the chance, we must embrace them, appreciate them, and share them.

The 10 Rules of Ikigai according to Héctor García and Francesc Miralles

  1. Stay active; don’t retire
  2. Take it slow
  3. Don’t fill your stomach
  4. Surround yourself with good friends
  5. Get in shape for your next birthday
  6. Smile
  7. Reconnect with nature
  8. Give thanks
  9. Live in the moment
  10. Follow your ikigai