Ikigai The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

Do you ever feel like your life lacks purpose? Are you craving to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life? If your answer is yes don’t worry you’re not alone. Many people live their lives in search of their purpose. Luckily today I will give you the tools to find your purpose in life, through the concept of Ikigai. The term Ikigai is based on a Japanese concept which is a combination of two terms. Iki means life in gai meaning worth. When both are combined they refer to your life’s worth meaning or purpose. It is quite similar to the French term Rezan Deitra, which translates to the reason for being. This concept has long been present in Japanese culture. But only became a popular topic across the world, when Hector Garcia and Francesc Morales published their book titled Ikigai The Japanese secret to a long and happy life.

Today I will provide you with a summary of the book and explain the philosophy of Ikigai. Remember that feeling of excitement and anticipation when you were younger and you woke up on the day of a school field trip? Do you ever still feel like that? Most adults wake up on Monday morning dreading the work week ahead. Wouldn’t it be great to bring that feeling of excitement back into your day-to-day life?

Well, the residents of Okinawa have figured out how to do this. The people living on this Japanese island are some of the happiest and longest-living people in the world. People on this island live for more than 100 years on average. The entire population works throughout their lives without ever even thinking of retiring. Even the elderly are very healthy and when they are forced to retire they keep up with their hobbies and stay active in their community. So what’s their secret, well they live according to the principles of Ikigai.

Finding your Ikigai comes down to asking yourself 4 easy questions.

Question – 1: What do I love to do?

Think of activities where you easily lose track of time doing them, or where you really feel like you’re in a state of flow. Maybe that’s cooking for you or hiking. Do not only take your current day-to-day life into account. But also try to go back to your childhood memories. You can also ask your parents what you love doing as a kid don’t think about this question too much just write down what comes to mind without any judgment. Start the sentence with I feel happy when.

Question -2: What does the World Need?

With the first question, we focused on our own desires and needs. But it is also very important to think of others. Because a big part of our happiness comes from a feeling of value to our environment. Everyone on Okinawa is part of a community. Where people help and look after each other, so try to think of what the world lacks and what people would benefit from. Maybe you feel like the world needs to slow down a bit and people should reconnect with nature. You can also apply this to your environment. Then you can ask yourself what does my partner need or what does my family need?

Question-3: What can I get paid for?

Of course, we would all love to live our lives only doing the things we like and being of value to others. But we also need to earn money to provide for the necessities of life. Most people on Okinawa still earn a living, even at age 90, by selling vegetables from their garden on the market for example. To answer this question first write down what you currently earn money with. Again without any judgment then think of other activities services or products that you could earn money with. Write down all you can come up with.

Question – 4: what am I good at think of the things you excel at

And finally question four what am I good at think of the things you excel at. Maybe it seems odd to you to only think of this aspect last. But there’s a very good reason for this. We often don’t know about all our talents because they have been buried under the emotional experiences of the past. We tend to let the opinions of others get to us.

For example, if your swimming instructor told you that you were not a very good swimmer you could easily believe him and decide that you would be better off trying another sport. But maybe it was the swimming teacher who wasn’t good at his job and you actually did have potential, that’s why it’s important to dismiss these limited beliefs. So to answer this question write down things you’re already good at, and also things you could become good at with some practice. When you have answered these four questions, the next step is to take action.

The Next Step is to Take Action

Many people think that a purpose in life is something that magically reveals itself, almost like an epiphany. However, the people who have found their passion in life generally work hard for it and show determination. Finding your Ikigai is a matter of trial and error to take action take a look at your answers to the four elements of Ikigai. And write down concrete actions next to them. Think of how you can incorporate the activities you love into your day-to-day life. And how you can be of value to your environment and loved ones. After that, it will only be a matter of time before you think of ways to get paid for what you love to do. Alongside these four principles of Ikigai, the book offers a few more rules for living a long and happy life.

1. stay active don’t retire.

Residents of Okinawa suggest that you don’t always need to play a sport or go running to be healthy. Longevity and health are more about finding simple consistent ways to move more throughout the day. A walk around the neighborhood spending an afternoon working in the garden or singing karaoke with other members of the community for example. These are just a few simple ways of how the people of Okinawa maintain frequent movement. Can you implement simple movements like these throughout your day?

2. Take it slow live in the moment

Garcia and Morales also discovered the concept of slow living from their days in Okinawa. The lifestyle of the locals seemed to consist of many tasks. But when they looked closer they saw that the people did everything with a sense of calm. They were always working on their Ikigai, but never in a rush. The people on Okinawa take on tasks that allow them to stay occupied and relaxed at the same time. Because they work on something they love they live in the moment without any worry of the future or the past.

How about you? Are you rushing through life? Then try to follow this concept of slow living by doing every task with great focus. Japanese people carry out the most basic tasks with great intensity. The key to our happiness is the ability to turn routine tasks into moments of microflow. We all have to do our daily trivial tasks. So why not try to enjoy them?

3. don’t fill your stomach.

To stay healthier longer, according to the 80 percent rule, we should eat a little less than our hunger demands, instead of stuffing ourselves. We should stop eating before when we’re full, so we only fill 80 percent of our stomach. It’s also important to be mindful and present while you eat. This will help you enjoy your meal and you will also be able to detect better when you have had enough to eat. Put this in practice today fill your plate a little less than usual and remove any distractions while eating. Remember to be in the moment

4. Surround yourself with good friends.

Like the people of Okinawa, enjoy the company of the people you love. Ikigai can be found in relationships with others. Devoting our time to our friends and family and receiving love and appreciation in return, fills us with happiness. That’s why it’s important to be selective of the company you keep, and only surround yourself with good friends.

5. get in shape for your next birthday

The human body can be seen as water. It is at its best when it flows fresh and doesn’t stagnate. The body you move through life with needs a bit of daily maintenance to keep it running for a long time. Exercising keeps our body healthy, and also makes us happy because of the hormones it releases.

6. Smile

Maintaining a cheerful attitude can have great effects on your life. Because positive energy attracts positive energy. And hey it also takes way fewer muscles in your face to smile than to frown.

7. Reconnect with nature

By being in nature you release happy hormones, reduce cortisol levels, and improve your overall well-being. The Japanese word Shinrin Yuku translates to forest bathing and it means connecting to nature using your five senses. By activating your sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste you can easily reconnect with nature and gain some peace of mind. So I’m not telling you to lick and taste the grass, but just listen to the birds chirping and take in the smell of the forest. You will surely gain more appreciation for the beauty of nature, which brings us to the next rule

8. Give thanks

Take some time every day to direct a grateful attitude towards someone or something in your life. Gratitude can truly change your whole perspective on life. By focusing on the things you are thankful for. You will gain positivity and therefore a happier attitude as a whole.

An Important Rule: Follow Your Ikigai

The most important rule is of course to live your life according to your Ikigai Although each of us has a different Ikigai they are all related to the search for meaning. Ikigai brings purpose to our lives and fills us with energy every day it is our existential fuel. If you have not been able to find your Ikigai yet, remember the advice of Victor Frankl. If you don’t know your mission, then currently your mission is to find it.

This brings us to the end of our summary I hope you will now be able to find your Ikigai and live a more happy meaningful life.

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