Ikigai is one of those terms (or, more accurately, concepts) that’s difficult to directly translate, similar to expressions like “maktub“, “raison d’être“, or “flow“. However, if we were to attempt a translation, it could be described as “joy due to continuous engagement“. Essentially, it refers to something akin to the meaning of our existence, similar to “raison d’être.”
The book “Ikigai” by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles instantly drew me in with its title, particularly its connection to Japan. Admittedly, I was also hoping for a different perspective on certain matters compared to the commonly held Western philosophies about a happy life.
Is the book worth reading? Find out more below. 🙂
To be honest, the beginning of the book felt more like a collection of newspaper articles, discussing the origins of the book, basic facts about longevity, stress, existential vacuum…
Did I waste money on something I could have just read online? This question began to nag at me.
However, I then decided to shift my perspective. I chose to view the advice in this book as part of a broader whole.
And this broader whole is precisely ikigai. How? Well, imagine ikigai as a state we need to achieve, similar to “flow”. It’s not simply deciding, “I am now entering a zen phase”. Both body and mind must gradually “enter” this state. How can you reach this state if your thoughts are negative and pessimistic, and your body is weary and toxic from an unhealthy lifestyle? Of course, it’s still possible to reach “that” state, but much harder, right?
The book mainly focuses on the inhabitants of Okinawa, who are renowned for their longevity. There’s much to learn from them about diet, dealing with stress, viewing goals and challenges, and what constitutes balance in a person (not worrying, having good habits, cultivating friendships daily, living unhurriedly, and being optimistic). Here, you’ll also find connections with logo-therapy, Morita’s theory, Naikan meditation, hara hachi bu… I have no doubt that you might already be familiar with a good part of this, but it’s worthwhile to be reminded.
This isn’t your typical popular psychology or esoteric book. It is more about practical advice that can help us find our own ikigai, our reason to do what we love and to continue feeling fulfilled even after retirement… which may also be one of the keys to longevity.
The book is written in an accessible style and is a quick read. The chapters are well-separated and full of useful advice and anecdotes. I believe it can be beneficial both to those seeking a healthier lifestyle and to those looking for guidance in dealing with business challenges.
I truly think this is one of those books that should be reread occasionally, just to remind ourselves of some important life lessons.
And you, dear readers, have you discovered your ikigai?