Ikigai (The Japanese Secret to a Long & Happy Life) by Hector Gracia & Francesc Miralles – Book summary
Have you ever thought about how few people outlive the common population? Well few things make these people outlive the rest of the population. This book Ikigai highlights these activities. In this summary we will talk about the principles that can help any individual in leading a long & happy life. Ikigai is a tool which seeks to answer the big & personal questions like “What is the purpose of my life?” but the simple translation of the words is – the happiness of always being happy
- Anti Aging Secrets
- Logotherapy to Ikigai
- Finding the Flow
- The Japanese Centenarians
- Ikigai Diet
- Gentle Movement, Longer life
- Resilience & Wabi-Sabi
According to people born in Okinawa ( the place with the most centurion of the world present)Ikigai of each individual is the reason they get up in the morning. The book mentions the blue zones in the world where people live longer than the rest compared to the world. Okinawa is one of the places in the blue zone.
As per the studies carried on the people living in the blue zone it was found that the key to longevity was diet, exercise & finding purpose along with forming social ties. As the ancient wisdom from Okinawa a person eats only up to 80 percent full of their stomach capacity.
Anti- Aging Secret
The author says that having a youthful mind drives us towards a healthy lifestyle that will slow down the aging process. Just as lack of exercise harms the body similarly the lack of mental exercise also has a bad effect on the brain resulting in a reduced ability of the brain to react to the surrounding
The author cites research showing that stress is the culprit that causes premature aging and the body wears down much faster during the period of crisis. We should be also mindful about reducing stress if we want to have a longer life. Author says techniques like meditation, yoga, breathing exercises can help in reducing stress.
The books also mention that long periods of sitting also contributes to aging and affects the longevity of a person and can lead to numerous diseases and cardiology related issues.
Hence to avoid this, people like should do following things like
- Daily walking for 20 mins
- Use of feet instead of elevators
- Participate in social activities rather than spending time in front of the TV
- Getting Proper 7-9 hrs of sleep
Living Longer by finding the purpose of life
Logotherapy is the key, basically means helping you find the reasons to live. While this book also goes further to describe the difference between Psychoanalysis & Logotherapy. It is said that some times the existential frustration arises when our life is without purpose or the purpose is skewed
Technique one – Morita Therapy
Morita technique focuses on teaching individuals to accept their emotions without controlling them, since the feeling will change as a result of their action along with creating new emotions based on the actions.
Principles of Morita Therapy
- Accept your feeling
- Do what you should be doing
- Discover your life purpose
Technique two – Naikan Meditation
- What have I received from person X?
- What I have given to person X?
- What problems have I caused to person X?
These help in reflection and we stop identifying others to cause our problems and deepen our sense of responsibility.
Finding flow in everything in work
Flow is described as the state in which pleasure, creativity, delight is experienced when we are completely immersed in the process and the author says that to begin in the flow one must be aligned to their Ikigai.
To achieve this optimal state flow, we must spend time on activities that bring us this state of flow.
The seven conditions to achieving the flow.
- Knowing what to do
- Knowing how to do
- Knowing how well you are doing
- Knowing where to go (Navigating)
- Perceiving significant skills
- Being free from distraction
Flow table diagram – easy, flow, challenging
Once the Ikigai is discovered then retirement is one thing that he/she is not looking forward to.” can someone really retire if he /she is passionate about what they do “?
While doing a task, a task should not be too easy that can lead to apathy nor too difficult that it is difficult which may lead to frustration but should be in the middle that is little something extra, something to get you out of your comfort zone.
Flow is like a mysterious muscle. The more you train it, the better it gets, and the closer you get to your Ikigai.
Lessons from Japan’s Centenarians
Author was once invited for a communal function in Japan, where the author found that it was the birthday of an 80-year-old person and would drive a car in her eighties as well. The author with curiosity asked the person in her eighties about her secret she mentioned that along with food, smiling, and having was key for her longevity.
The celebration was the key part of people in Okinawa, and grand essential for the happiness in the life are ” something to do, something to love and something to hope for:”
The author then decided to take the interviews for pinpointing the reasons that make people from Okinawa a centurion and found that as follows
- Not to worry, keeping heart young and not letting it grow old along with opening heart to people with a smile
- Keeping the brain & fingers busy in learning or working
- Nurturing friendship – getting together with friends and going to places
- Having an important purpose in life and several Ikigai
- Recognizing the strong connection among people (Yuimaaru)
The Ikigai Diet
Well this is one of the most important chapters in the book. Researchers pointed out that Okinawa was the province without a train and people used to walk or cycle most of the time and the province which used to eat less than 10 gm of salt per day.
People in Okinawa had particular highlights in their diets like
- They used to eat a variety of foods and variety was the key
- They ate at least five different types of vegetables & fruits every day and 30 % of calories come from vegetables & fruits
- Grains where the foundation of their diet
- They rarely eat sugar and if they do it was cane sugar
- They eat only up till they are 80% stomach full or the alternative was to fast 1 or 2 days in a week
Gentle Movements of Longer life
Studies from the blue zones show that people who live the longest are not the ones who do the most exercise but rather who move the most. Metabolism slows down 90 % after 30 mins of sitting.
The author also mentions that we don’t need to go to gyms for an hour daily or run marathons but need to add movements to our day.
Breathing better also contributes to longer living i.e Taking deep breaths throughout the day. As most of the day we are not aware and we just don’t breathe enough. In all physical exercise along with awareness of breathing is the key to longevity
Resilience & Wabi-Sabi
Resilience is an important quality for success in life. Resilience is the ability to persevere. It is about creating an outlook to cultivate to stay focused on important things rather than being carried away by other things or negative emotions.
This chapter mentions that resilient people concentrate on the things that they can control and don’t worry about the things which they cannot control.
Stoics practice resilience by practicing the negative visualization like – “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” and be prepared to take action if certain pleasure were taken away from them in the process
The book takes the quote from Epictetus “It’s not what happens to you but how you react that matters”
Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese concept that shows us the beauty of the fleeting, changeable, and imperfect nature of the world around us. Understanding this moment exists only now and won’t comes again and focusing on the present and enjoying each moment of life.
Hector says being resilient is just the start but the true goal should be being Anti-fragile.
Anti-fragile means beyond resilience. Resilience resists the shock and remains the same but anti fragile becomes better, example after in exercise out body is put under stress due to which it grows to be better & stronger
Ikigai books mention that everyone has their own unique Ikigai and the common thing is that we all are looking for it.
In general we all in modern times are distracted by the incentives in our daily lives but we should not let it take over in our journey of discovering our Ikigai. We should always keep ourselves busy with the things we love to do and surround ourselves with the people who love us.
- Stay active & don’t retire
- Surround yourself with good friends
- Get in shape
- Smile more & reconnect with nature
- Follow your Ikigai
Well, I guess everyone wants to have a centurion life with a healthy life, hence I would recommend everyone this book show how introducing small changes in life can have a positive effect in life leads to a life of healthy & longevity.
About the Author
Francesc Miralles is an award-winning author who has written a number of bestselling self-help and inspirational books. Born in Barcelona, he studied journalism, English literature, and German, and has worked as an editor, a translator, a ghost-writer, and a musician. His novel Love in Lowercase has been translated into twenty languages.