Ikigai is the Japanese art of living. I am a fan of Japanese way of thinking whether it is related to how they led the quality movement or how they exercise their craftsman spirit in day to day life. I had heard and read about Ikigai and wanted to dive deeper into the underlying philosophy because I feel that finding our Ikigai – our reason for being – is vital for us to be better human beings and hence leaders.
I therefore picked up the book Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life hoping to find ways to discover our calling, our reason for being, raison d’être.
My Review of the Book
I feel that while the book covers a lot of good content, it lacks depth. In less than 200 pages, the authors try to cover many things like ageing, food, yoga, tai chi, stress management, concept of flow state, stories about centenarians from Okinawa in Japan, resilience, meditation and antifragility. Reading about so many different things tied to the core concept of Ikigai without going into depth can only lead to basic awareness. So, the book is good for beginners who are exposed to these topics for the first time. I would personally prefer a more nuanced conversation around the topic rather than cursory information on many related topics.
What I liked though was the stories and quotes from centenarians of Ogimi region which is one of the blue zones that boasts of highest life expectancy in the world.
“essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”
“Our ikigai is different for all of us, but one thing we have in common is that we are all searching for meaning.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Being in a hurry is inversely proportional to quality of life. As the old saying goes, ‘Walk slowly and you’ll go far.’ When we leave urgency behind, life and time take on new meaning.”
“the people who live the longest have two dispositional traits in common: a positive attitude and a high degree of emotional awareness. In other words, those who face challenges with a positive outlook and are able to manage their emotions are already well on their way toward longevity.”
“In order to achieve this optimal experience, we have to focus on increasing the time we spend on activities that bring us to this state of flow, rather than allowing ourselves to get caught up in activities that offer immediate pleasure.”
“Our ability to turn routine tasks into moments of microflow, into something we enjoy, is key to our being happy, since we all have to do such tasks.”
“Artists know how important it is to protect their space, control their environment, and be free of distractions”
“There is a passion inside you, a unique talent that gives meaning to your days and drives you to share the best of yourself until the very end. If you don’t know what your ikigai is yet, as Viktor Frankl says, your mission is to discover it.”
10 Rules of Ikigai
One thing I liked the most was the summary of book in form of 10 Rules of Ikigai. It summarizes the overall approach to living a good life. Finding your Ikigai is a lifelong journey of understanding yourself better, doing things that you love, putting your gifts to significant use and learning along the way.
Here is a sketchnote summary of 10 Rules of Ikigai:
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