Book Review | Ikigai

Title: Ikigai – The Japanese secret to a long and happy life

Author: Hector Garcia & Francesec Miralles

What is the meaning of life? Is the point just to live longer or should we seek a higher purpose? Why do some people know what they want and have a passion for life, while others languish in confusion?

Ikigai is one of the bestselling self-help books and has been trending a lot recently. It’s a Japanese term which gives you a number of solutions to the above mentioned philosophical questions. I picked up this book wholly aware that this is a self-help book and it may or may not leave you inspired just as is the case with other books in this genre. But the word Ikigai had a calming and peaceful sound to it, something I definitely didn’t want to be unaware of.

Iki means Life and gai means to be worthwhile, ikigai is your raison d’etre. In the book, the concept of Ikigai has been defined in a number of ways as mentioned below:

It is the happiness of always being busy. This seems to be one of the ways of explaining the extraordinary longevity of the Japanese people.

It is the reason why you should get up every morning. Those who discover their ikigai have everything they need for a long and joyful journey through life.

The book stresses upon the fact that you carry your Ikigai within you. To live a happy and healthy life one need not have a grand vision and mission, something as simple as gardening can be your calling.

The authors take us to a rural town Ogimi located on Okinawa Island. This town has another interesting name – the Village of Longevity. The residents of this town speak an ancient dialect; they practice animist religion and live by the principle of ‘ichariba chode’, which means that you treat everyone like a brother even if you have never met them before. There are a lot of people in this town who are above the age of hundred, yet are still healthy enough to carry on with their daily tasks. The reasons being:

a healthful diet

a simple life in the outdoors

a strong sense of community

and a clearly defined Ikigai

Going further, the book touches upon topics like Antiaging strategies for the mind, Stress reduction method, Logotherapy, Morita Therapy, The power of Flow and Emotional Resilience. All these topics ultimately connect with the concept of Ikigai. Here are the one-lines that relate to the above-mentioned concepts:

He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”

“We don’t create the meaning of life, we discover it.”

“In feelings, it is best to be wealthy and generous.”

“When we flow, our mind is in order.”

“The happiest people are not the ones who achieve the most. They are the ones who spend more time than others in a state of flow.”

“The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.”

“There is nothing wrong with enjoying life’s pleasures as long as they do not take control of your life as you enjoy them.”

Every now and then the authors go back to the Japanese way of life – their diet and other habits. What disappointed me a bit is that the book becomes a sort of manual with point wise instructions, which did not vibe with me.

I have mixed up feeling for this book. Sometimes it failed to be inspiring enough, other times it provided with fresh perspectives about life. Anyway, even though the book did not completely fulfill my expectation, I would recommend everyone to give it a read. Personally, I do not agree with all the things that are mentioned in the book, but it’s possible to have a different appeal and impact to different readers in many ways. In a digitally connected world where we get instant updates about everyone’s life, FOMO has become a major issue that leads to anxiety. In trying to outdo the other person in the short term we often fail to discover our own Ikigai.

God give us grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed

and the wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.

Goodreads Rating: 3.63/5

Amazon Rating: 4.5/5


One Comment Add yours

  1. Though I didn’t read the book yet, I came to know about this ikigai thing a month back and prepared my own ikigai. While doing the activity it did give me some sense of clarity, about my passion, existence, purpose and value I can contribute. What I am going to do is I would recreate my ikigai from scratch this weekend without looking or thinking about it the last one. I would repeat the same for a couple of months and then tally out if what I had been continuously spending my time on what I think about the world needs and myself has really built up or is coming from some temporary influence. Then, I might had truly found and ready to go with my ikigai way.

    Liked by 1 person

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