Book Review: Ikigai The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles
In other words Ikigai is the dynamic and passion-driven intersection of doing the things you love, the thing you are good at, the thing that the world needs and the thing which you are being paid for.
This book struck a chord with me immediately. It’s all about finding that thing that is going to the passion that you will enjoy for the rest of your life. It’s a book of finding deep joy and connection in your work. Reading this, I had a light bulb moment where I realised I had to make a website about endangered species and start an online movement for boycotting brands that were destroying rainforests. Anyway it all just came together for me after reading this book and for this I am profoundly, deeply thankful for the insights it contains.
This is a great reference book to dip into over time. Although it is structured in a way that you could also read the book from cover to cover in one sitting.
There are many key takeaways to this book. I have summarised these for you below.
The seven conditions for achieving Ikigai flow
- Knowing what to do.
- Knowing how to do it.
- Knowing how well you are doing.
- Knowing where to go (where navigation is involved).
- Perceiving significant challenges.
- Perceiving significant skills.
- Being free from distractions.
Getting into the flow: strategies
- Choose a challenging task (but not too difficult!
- Have clear and concrete objectives and focus on the process.
- Concentrate on a single task by being in a distraction-free environment and having control over what you are doing at every moment.
Happiness can be found in the process and a craft of doing, rather than the end result.
The grand essentials for happiness in life:
- Something to do.
- Something to love.
- Something to hope for.
The recipe for a long life according to Japan’s centenarians
- Stay active; don’t retire.
- Take it slow.
- Go out onto the street, smile and say hi to people.
- Talk to people you love.
- Don’t fill your stomach, stop eating when you are almost full.
- Surround yourself with good friends.
- Get in shape for your next birthday.
- Reconnect with nature.
- Give thanks.
- Live in the moment.
Ichi-go ichi-e: Be aware of impermanence
The impermance of things doesn’t have to make us sad, it can help us to live in the present moment and love those who surround us. Ichi-go ichi-e – this moment exists only now and won’t come again. We should enjoy the moment and not lose ourselves in worries about the past or the future.
A Japanese aesthetic that is sometimes described as one of appreciating beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” in nature.
The idea that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The pearl inside of the oyster principle, that through hardship all things, including people are made stronger and more beautiful.
Happiness is always determined by your heart
Life is not a problem to be solved. Just remember to have something that keeps you busy doing what you love while being surrounded by the people who love you.
One thing I will criticise about this book, its authors spent a disproportionate amount of time talking about centenarians and people aged over 100 who live in Japan. This for me is pretty off-topic. Yes, they have lived a long time and know how to live a good life. However, being happy and living a long time seem tangential to the main topic which is about finding what you’re good at and finding your ikigai. This part of the book seemed a bit irrelevant and boring and could be skipped. Still, as a short and snappy guide to these timeless Japanese concepts, this is a great little book and would also make a good gift.