I realise that am probably amongst the last few people to have read this book !! It seems to be a very popular read and it deserves all the kudos that it has been receiving. The island of Okinawa in Japan has been in the news for all the right reasons. The Okinawans live long productive happy lives (100+ years) and who doesn’t want that ?? Their secret is shared through this book titled Ikigai.
An excerpt from the first few pages explains the concept – “…This Japanese concept, which translates roughly as “the happiness of always being busy,” is like logotherapy, but it goes a step beyond. It also seems to be one way of explaining the extraordinary longevity of the Japanese, especially on the island of Okinawa, where there are 24.55 people over the age of 100 for every 100,000 inhabitants—far more than the global average.”
There is a beautiful picture that’s a Venn diagram explaining Ikigai.
Learning – All of us love doing certain things and are good at something. The whole idea is to find which of our skills the world needs in order to get paid for it. Sounds fairly simple but so many of us struggle with this.
Ikigai in Everyday Life
This is not a book that you read and then not “do” anything about. The entire book gives several tips on how to implement the concept of Ikigai in everyday life. That’s the best part. Not a single page is without tips on living a better life !
I also realised that ancient India was hugely influential and the Japanese culture is deeply influenced by our way of life. It was also sad to see that outsiders have to tell us about how good our way of life is while we are finding new ways to belittle it !!!!! Am just glad that there is some revival of Indic thought and our traditional wisdom is making a comeback.
Some interesting similarities –
- Largely vegetarian diet – Human beings are not built for massive amounts of animal protein. The Okinawans eat a range of vegetables grown in their homes ! Just the way our grandmothers lived. The Wuhan virus led pandemic that seems to go on and on has taught us not to eat exotic meat … hopefully the world slows down on its “protein” fixation.
- Movement – I had written an earlier blogpost Sitting is the New Smoking as I was reading the book. The Okinawans don’t go to gyms, but are constantly engaged in movement. They do gardening, walking and playing some simple games that ensure no one is being a couch potato. Our great-grandparents and grandparents were never sitting on a comfortable chair … they worked in the fields and women used a range of tools in the kitchen that exercised different parts of the body. Btw, I have a rice pot made of bronze that my bird-like maternal grandmother used for cooking rice …. Its a workout to lift that empty pot !
- Flow – A state of mind when you are totally engrossed in what you are doing. The book suggests that we find activities that keep us in a state of flow for the entire day if possible. Essentially keep doing things that you love to do and say goodbye stress. The biggest killer of modern life is “stress” and being in a state of flow, keeps stress away.
There are several other learnings from the book that required individual blogposts as they are discussion topics in themselves. Over the next few days I hope to post on many of those topics.
Writing is when I am in a state of flow !!!
Recommendation – This is a book that must be found in everyone’s library and should be referred to often. So please do read, gift and re-read the book.