Ikigai- A miraculous gift to the world by the Japanese people

4 mn read

Ikigai is a treasure trove of happiness, contentment and longevity. The book contains all the secrets that Japanese people swear by to live a long, happy, and peaceful life. The authors Hector Garcia Puigcerver and Francesc Miralles have also stated the reason why Okinawans live well past the age of a hundred. This book even covers many topics related to the art of living. It educates a person to focus their energy on things that are super important. Living a simple yet purposeful life enhances the quality of life and offers clarity.

       Longevity is solely dependent on the sense of purpose.

Let’s come to the first part stated in the book i.e longevity. Longevity or long life is directly proportional to the life’s purpose. Almost all Japanese people assume that they have an Ikigai. Simply put, they believe that they all have been sent to this earth with a motive. The people who don’t have an ambition or sense of purpose usually die earlier than people with a strong and clear sense of purpose.

Let’s understand this with the help of an example. Okinawa, a city in Japan, has the highest number of centenarians.  All these people are still living a healthy and a peaceful life. Do you want to know why? Because they believe in Ikigai which means the purpose of life. Therefore, Okinawans spend a large part of their life specializing and fulfilling their purpose on Earth.

Some life lessons from Japanese centennials to live a remarkable life: They suggest people to inculcate healthy habits like waking up early in the morning, working out, making real and lifelong connections with people, keeping stress levels as low as possible, growing your own veggies and consuming home cooked food as much as possible.

Okinawans also practice portion control which is called hara hachi bu which means they only eat until they’re 80% full and after that stop at it. They don’t stuff themselves with unnecessary amounts of food. This practice of portion control ensures that they live a happy, long, and healthy life.

According to Japanese people, Ikigai or sense of purpose can be defined as an intersection between four different factors: Firstly, what you are passionate about, what is your skillset, how you can make a living out of the skills you have, and what the world needs.

       Low stress level and an agile mind can increase the quality of life 

It is believed that an active and properly functioning brain can lead to longevity. Now the question arises as to how to keep the mind active and agile? It’s simple! Ikigai’s summary states that indulging in mind games like puzzles, quizzes, and chess prevents brain fog, a condition mostly observed in older people. Just like our physical body needs lubrication and exercise so that it works well in old age. Similarly, our brain too requires mental exercises to work well. Practicing mindfulness by indulging in yoga and meditation practices soothes the nerves and helps in keeping the stress level down. 

The authors have mentioned to indulge in Deep Japanese Therapy or Morita Therapy in case of high stress or nervous breakdown. This therapy helps in keeping stress levels down which in turn keeps all the diseases at bay.  It was initially developed to cure anxiety and keep stress at control. But it was later discovered that this therapy can help in curing depression and burnouts too. 

       Indulging in activities that will keep you young 

By now you must have realised that Japanese people are very well connected with their body which makes them connected with their mind too. These people make sure to engage themselves in a hobby that makes them feel young and passionate.  You too can take inspiration from Japanese and engage yourself in a hobby that ensures flow. It is believed that engaging in an activity that you love doing returns your zeal towards life which in turn will increase your life expectancy.

       Eating foods rich in antioxidants and body movement at regular intervals ensures longevity and health

The summary of Ikigai states that eating foods rich in antioxidants is a key to living a long life. Japanese people swear by loading their diets with food stitch in antioxidants. They not only increase the quality of your life but also help in keeping the stress levels at bay and rejuvenate literally each and every cell of the body. Some foods rich in antioxidants are: broccoli, salmon, strawberries or apricots. They swear by home-made green tea and white tea. Both are super rich in antioxidants. They add jasmine to their green tea to make it more effective. These teas not just provide antioxidants but also help in controlling bad cholesterol, blood pressure, boost blood circulation, and keep sugar levels in control.

 Another thing that Japanese people swear by is movement or walking. It has been proved that completing the daily step count can add years to your life. The secret ingredient to old Japanese people’s longevity is movement. They are most commonly seen taking a casual stroll around the garden, working in their home gardens or going up to karaoke bars. They consciously make time for such activities in their day. Ikigai book summary showcases a recent study conducted on this topic by fitness expert Gavin Bradley shows that sitting in the same position for two hours can have fatal and irreversible effects on our health.

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