I have recently finished reading Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, written by Héctor García and Frances Miralles. A short and interesting read, about the art of staying young while growing older, or more precisely, I probably would say, reconnecting with the so-called old ways of being ‘Healthy’.
Before I start my review, I would like to define the meaning of the word Ikigai. If you google the term, you will get a number of definitions – but the one I found the most significant is –
“The term ikigai compounds two Japanese words: iki meaning ‘life; alive‘ and kai meaning ‘(an) effect; (a) result; (a) fruit; (a) worth; (a) use; (a) benefit; (no, little) avail’ (sequentially voiced as gai) to arrive at ‘a reason for living (being alive); a meaning for (to) life; what (something that) makes life worth living; a raison d’etre‘.”
So, to me, Ikigai is essentially the required fuel for life, the purpose(s), to keep it in acceleration and the FLOW of this fuel should be continuous to cover a longer distance (the age). In simple words, you cannot live a life without “meaning”. Life without meaning is a waste. You cannot create the meaning of life, but you have to discover it, to keep moving every moment and remain happy and healthy throughout on the roads of life.
Japan is famous for many things like – designing, automobile manufacturing, culinary nattiness, self-discipline, cleanliness and more importantly for longest life expectancy. Set in one of the five Blue Zones of the World, Okinawa, a small Japanese island, Ikigai centres on how to live a not only longer but better life. The book puts in light the age-old traditions, their harmonious co-existence with the contemporary culture, and the necessity of sticking to them. The authors have done tremendous research and interviewed more than a hundred islanders to know their secrets of living happily.
Ikigai is an enchanting visit to Ogimi, a village in Okinawa, which holds the distinction of being the oldest village on the planet. The book rationally explicates many inter-disciplinary concepts and techniques of living a healthier life through charts and illustrations and make it easy for the readers to adopt and absorb recommended actions. Here are my takeaways from this compact book –
Blue Zones – The book gives references of five Blue Zones in the different parts of the World (claimed by Dan Buettner), while paying special attention to Okinawa, whose residents, women in particular, live longer than anywhere else in the world and also examines factors common across all the Blue Zones as a key to longevity.
Follow your Ikigai: To invest time, energy and efforts which are not in control are not wise. Instead, you should passionately do what you love to do. It gives you contentment and peace of mind. If one has a sense of purpose in life, the concept of retirement does not matter.
Reconnect with nature: Nature nourishes us! Nature heals us! Nature caress us! It works like a reset button. By connecting with nature, you can connect to ourselves emotionally and spiritually. Being in the materialistic world it seems to be tough.
Surround yourself with good friends: Advice, support, help and quality time spent with good friends uplift your mood and filled you with afresh energy which helps you keep moving.
Stay active, don’t retire: Even after your professional retirement, don’t stop doing things in which you exhale, either for helping others or for surroundings around you. Making progress is what keeps you mentally and physically fit.
Take it slow: Being in a hurry is inversely proportional to the quality of life. Urgency is mostly in our mind. Leaving it behind can help open unlocked doors of a healthy life.
Food and exercise: Including diverse variety (at least seven) of fruits and vegetables and small doses of muscular and respiratory workout, and some green tea can lead you to longevity.
Mindset: Setbacks are inevitable and during the time of setbacks, positive approach and a high degree of emotional awareness help you get through difficult times and achieve your goals. Though occasional stress may be healthy.
Wabi-Sabi: Another traditional Japanese technique, of embracing imperfect, impermanent and incomplete and finding beauty in it.
Despite aforesaid takeaways, there are still many questions lingering in my mind. Don’t we know these secrets? Or should we even consider them as secrets? These are the basic principles of living a healthy and active life; which we either have ignored or conveniently forgotten. These are the practices, our forefathers have followed. Then, why have we not incorporated them into our lifestyle? Has modern lifestyle blindfolded us? Or, is it actually so difficult to make synergy between our ages-old traditions and the contemporary world?
However, nothing to take away from the wonderful book that Ikigai is! You should read this book if you have time and energy to invest in something that can motivate you to do things that will make your life better. And also, many people are reading the book and it’s a bestseller on Amazon as well. So, why not give it a read and try to grasp what do the Japanese secrets mean?
To conclude, Ikigai is a good book which motivates the readers to rediscover and connect with our lost roots. By altering our lifestyle a little, you can find more happiness and better health which will further push us to long life. However, did India and Indians know about it? Yes, they did and they do very well. Unfortunately, we need the waking-up shocks in the form of these books like in Inception, the Nolan masterclass, a shock was necessary to wake the guys up from their dreams. If you want to read the Japanese secret, you can get a copy of this ‘hyped and deserving it’ work from Amazon India by clicking the link below:
Review by Nidhi Parikh for Indian Book Critics
Book Review - Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life
- Indian Book Critics' Rating
Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life is a book that does what the title says. It opens up the readers’ mind to knowing some Japanese secrets that can let them enjoy life to the fullest level by making some small, smaller and smallest changes.