IKIGAI: THE JAPANESE SECRET TO A LONG AND HAPPY LIFE

I thoroughly enjoyed the book “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, and wanted to pen down the little notes that I scribbled onto this site, so I can one day reference back to it when needed. The coverage of this book centers around a Village in Okinawa where there were many that lived beyond a century, and the teachings which we could glean off from them.

"Hara Hachi Bu" - fill your belly till 80% - was one of the first things I took away from this book. They go into the science of why it's important to not overeat.

    They went on to talk about Secrets to Longevity, and I'd like to summarise what I took away in a few pointers:
  • Beware of excessive amounts of Stress - this leads to autoimmune responses which damages telomeres (part of your genes) which results in cell degeneration and potential after effects are cancer, autoimmune diseases etc. A healthy amount of stress though, could help increase dopamine and blood glucose levels, to give you energy! (Therefore the importance of Ikigai)
  • Sitting excessively causes much health issues as well - this decreases muscles and it's use, decreases respiratory fitness, causes increase in appetite and inadvertently a decrease in activities. This leads to muscle degeneration, weight gain and long term health issues, so stand up and move!
  • Sleep is essential as during this time, the Pineal Gland secretes Serotonin, which is a constituent of melatonine, an antioxidant, which promotes also the increase in insulin required for blood sugar storage and strengthens your immunity. It also slows the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Attitude, and the principle of Stoicism - to obtain serenity in the face of setbacks.
  • Logotherapy, is a school of psychology and a philosophy based on the idea that we are strongly motivated to live purposefully and meaningfully, and that we find meaning in life as a result of responding authentically and humanely (i.e. meaningfully) to life's challenges. If it takes us 5 years, 10 years to find work that will achieve your Ikigai, it is worth doing.
  • Morita Therapy and Naikan Meditation were discussed and shared within this book, as a part of finding Ikigai.
  • Finding Flow is essential, "we are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act but a habit" - Aristotle. To find a life of Ikigai, increase the time on things that allow you to be in this state. What is flow? It is when you know what to do, how to do it, where you're going, you're aware of the challenges, you know the skills required and are free from distraction, and most importantly when time flies by without you even noticing it.
  • Do NOT MULTITASK! This poses a lot of challenges and causes a lack of focus. Have a distraction free environment and control what you are doing every moment. A strategy to achieve FOCUS is to try a Technology Fast, Do Not Disturb signs for sets of 30 minutes.
  • Look for Micro-flows - doing little things with precision & joy, allowing you to have greater energy for your day.

This was a refreshing and practical book that can be read within a day or two, but which can impact your life dramatically if you're following the strategies closely. It was a great read, provided to me from a mentor and friend Cedric, and I could not thank him more for sharing this with me. I hope this sharing will also bring life to those that read this post.

This article was originally published here
Ian Choo

Ian Choo is a Regional Learning & Development professional with a global MNC. In his free time, you'll find him on a podcast on a run, reading a book or engaged with being a father and husband to his beautiful family.

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