Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life


If you wish to learn the innermost secrets to a long and happy life, we would highly recommend the book Ikigai. Ikigai (生き甲斐) is a Japanese concept that means ‘a reason for being’, ‘what makes life worth living’, ‘a reason to jump out of bed each morning’!

The authors of this book, Héctor García and Francesc Miralles, have attempted to grasp the quintessence of this profound Japanese concept and to understand the secrets of centenarians and supercentenarians in Ogimi in Okinawa, but also in other places in the world (all together constituting the so called ‘five blue zones’), where people have been practicing ikigai in their unique cultural environments, such as Loma Linda in California, Sardinia in Italy, Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, and the island of Ikaria in Greece.

Here is some precious piece of advice centenaries from the above parts of the world are offering us.

 Find a true purpose in life, your unique talent, and commit to pursuing it in the best possible way you can. Follow your ikigai.
‘Take pleasure in your work, to lose your sense of time’.
 Surrender to simplicity.
 Concentrate on one thing at a time and achieve flow – mindfulness cannot be achieved when attempting to multi-task.
 ‘Our ability to turn routine tasks into moments of microflow, into something we enjoy, is key to our being happy, since we all have to do such tasks.’
 Eat healthy food and avoid overeating.
 Exercise and do gardening.
 Avoid premature aging by eradicating stress from your life.
 Never give up the things you love doing.
 Never retire… “Artists, for example, who carry the torch of their ikigai instead of retiring, have this power. Art, in all its forms, is an ikigai that can bring happiness and purpose to our days. Enjoying or creating beauty is free, and something all human beings have access to.”
 Have a close-knit group of friends and form a connection for life.
 Build strong bonds with one’s community; ‘form neighborhood associations, where each feels cared for as if by family’. Remember that ‘each encounter –whether with friends, family, or strangers – is unique and will never be repeated’. ‘That’s the secret to long life: getting together with people and going from place to place’…

The authors are challenging our modern ways of conceptualizing and experiencing the world and are offering us new alternatives. In a way they are urging us to practice Ikigai and to create more blue zones on this planet.


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries catalogue here.

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