Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles. (Because living long doesn’t interest me as much as living well.)

I don’t even know how to pronounce this word, ikegai, but I want it.

It seems to address our reason for being, such as the French call a raison d’etre.

Some people have found their ikigai, while others are still looking, though they carry it within them…our ikigai is the reason we get up in the morning.

The reason I get up in the morning is to go to work.  Teaching children has been an enormously important part of my purpose. But, what will happen next year when I retire? I can see that finding my ikigai in the next six months will not be a moment too soon.

The purpose of this book is to help you find yours, and to share insights from the Japanese on how to have a healthy body, mind and spirit.

As I read, and type, I am sipping a cup of green tea. Green jasmine tea. Because I read last night, in this book, how the people from Okinawa live longer lives than any other people in the world. Now, I do not want to live longer, especially if I am alone or in pain, but living a healthy lifestyle has had a certain vague appeal to me as I age.

A few bullet points from the authors on a healthy lifetsyle include:

  • “Fill your belly to 80 percent.” In other words, stop before you are stuffed. Even better, try to fast one or two days a week.
  • Drink green jasmine tea.
  • Stay away from cow’s milk and anything that comes from it.
  • Eat mostly fruit, vegetables, fish and rice.
  • Stay away from processed sugar.

The authors continue with healthy suggestions, and ways to reduce stress, in order to increase longevity. But, what I really want to know is how to find my life’s mission. Early on, the authors point to Morita therapy, a purpose-centered therapy created by Shoma Morita.

In the West, we tend to believe that what we think influences how we feel, which in turn influences how we act. In contrast, Morita therapy focuses on teaching patients to accept their emotions without trying to control them, since their feelings will change as a result of their actions…Morita therapy is not meant to eliminate symptoms; instead it teaches us to accept our desires, anxieties, fears and worries, and let them go. (p. 46)

Wait.

Stop.

I have always stomped on my fears and anxieties, believing that by the sheer force of my will they will dissipate. Now I read a suggestion that I ought to accept them? This is not the American pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootsteps mentality which I have accepted for decades.

The basic principles of Morita therapy are to:

  • Accept your feelings.
  • Do what you should be doing.
  • Discover your life’s purpose.

Okay.

How?

One way to begin is to “go with the flow”. Consider what makes you so happy that you forget about whatever worries you may be harboring while you’re doing it.

Well, I will stop here lest I divulge every facet of this fascinating book. It is easy to read and filled with applicable knowledge. It turns some of what I have learned as truth on its head. Most importantly, it helps direct us to a more fulfilling life. A life with purpose and meaning.

I suspect that, for me, this will include books. Lots of them, shared with lots of people, like reading to the elderly who can no longer see as well as they used to. Who no longer find people nearby to talk with.

What will it mean for you?

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8 thoughts on “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles. (Because living long doesn’t interest me as much as living well.)”

  1. This sounds like a really interesting book. And I’ve always found myself intrigued by the Japanese way of living, the way they eat and stay healthy. It’s something that I’ve been meaning to assimilate into my own life, but which I have so far failed miserably at. Perhaps one thing at a time, starting out first by eating right?

    Love your thoughts on this. Looks like this book is one to stay.

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  2. Thank you for this post, Bellezza. I already seem to love this book. The advice on embracing our emotions, being in the eye of it, sounds like something that Buddhist philosophers Thich Nhat Hanh and Pema Chodron would advocate. I love that perspective. And your purposes are inspiring. Thank you!

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  3. Lovely book. Might have to seek it out. My life’s person. Be kind to others , yes strangers. Take care of animals. I have five rescue animals and continually make my yard friendly for wildlife. Water in the bird baths, native plants, shallow water dishes for the bees. They reward me with their presence. I have stopped trying to solve world problems and reach out locally. It has made a difference. Exercise gently, visit nature, help out when you see it. Enjoy.

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  4. I read this book a few months ago, but I wasn’t very pleased with it, I guess I was expecting more from it, just like I did from a few books about “hygge”but they did not bring anything new to the table. Still, this is a good book if one wants to start thinking more about a healthy life…

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  5. I don’t think one needs to know exactly what one’s purpose is.It could be very large or very small. You can work on several facets of your “purpose” throughout life without knowing THE purpose. Situations change as they need to. You can too, as you already have within what you will need..
    As for me, I might be spending my later years in reading and contemplation.Just seeing what develops, and gradually preparing for what comes next. No more arguing about how long I have to stay here.
    Ultimately, if you had a life before you retire, you won’t have to work too hard to create one after you retire.

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  6. Bellezza, I’ve been interested in this book since I “discovered” it a few weeks ago. It sounds like a very lovely book, judging from your review.

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  7. This sounds like a lovely book, although I’m not sure I can “stay away from cow’s milk and anything that comes from it.” I love yogurt and cheese far too much. 🙂 I think I’ll see if my library has a copy. I love that beautiful cover.

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  8. Sounds like a really interesting book. I do not think I have found my ikigai yet! I think we have to “re-thing” the way we live our life and what we consider important. After all, it is the small things in life we enjoy the most. When you have everything, there is nothing more to want. A good read to start 2018.

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