The secret to a long and happy life.
The audiobook about Ikigai first came out on a rainy night in Tokyo where its authors sat down together for the first time in one of the city’s tiny bars. They read each other’s work and this put them in acquaintance by launching a friendship, leading to this project.
A year later when the authors took a stroll through the city, they discussed the trends in western psychology, specifically logo therapy. Logo therapy helps people find their purpose in life, search for meaning in what they do, and how they live.
What is the meaning of life? Is it the point just to live longer or should I seek a higher purpose? Why do some people know what they want and have a passion for life while others languish in confusion?
This mysterious word Ikigai came up with this Japanese concept which translates roughly as the happiness of always being busy.
Ikigai is also the one way explaining the extraordinary longevity of the Japanese especially on the island of Okinawa where there are 22.55 people over the age of 100, for every 100, 000 inhabitants far more than the global average.
Is Ikigai the reason there are more centenarians in Okinawa than anywhere else? How does Ikigai inspire people to stay active until the very end? What is the secret to a long and happy life?
Okinawa is where most of Japan’s shikawasa, a lime like fruit that packs an extraordinary antioxidant punch comes from. Could shikawasa be the secret to longevity? Or is it the purity of the water used to brew its moringa tea?
The Art of Staying Young While Growing Old
What is your reason for being?
To the Japanese, everyone has an Ikigai. Our Ikigai is hidden deep inside each of us and finding it requires patience. Ikigai can be described as the common ground you find between what you’re good at, what you love, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. But whatever you do, don’t retire.
In the Japanese philosophy, one surprising thing may notice living in Japan is how active people remain after they retire. In fact, many Japanese people never really retire, they keep doing what they love for as long as their health allows. There is actually no word in Japanese that means retire in the sense of leaving the workplace for good. Having a purpose in life is so important in Japanese culture that our idea of retirement simply doesn’t exist.
The centenarians from Okinawa not only live longer than the world’s population but they also suffer fewer chronic illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Many of these centenarians enjoy enviable levels of vitality and health. Their blood tests reveal fewer free radicals which are responsible for cellular aging.
The Okinawa diet is rich in tofu, sweet potatoes, fish, and vegetables. They consume less meat or processed foods, drink alcohol in moderation. Recent studies have revealed that Okinawans consume a daily average of 1800-1900 calories compared to 2200-3300 calories in the United States.
Members of the Okinawan communities manage their time well so they reduce stress. They don’t do strenuous exercise but they do move every day – walking and working in their vegetable gardens.
The 80% secret is when you fill your belly to 80%. By eating until we are almost full, we won’t be able to overeat and wear down our bodes with long digestive processes that accelerate cellular oxidation.
There’s no way to tell exactly when your stomach is 80% capacity but you should stop eating when you’re starting to feel full. That extra apple pie might give us pleasure short term but not having them will make us happier in the long term.
It is also customary to Okinawa to form close bonds within local communities. Ichariba is a local expression that means to treat everyone like a brother even if you’ve never met them before. And a moai is an informal group of people with common interests who look out for one another. Being a part of a moai helps maintain emotional and financial stability.
That feeling of belonging and support gives individuals and these centenarians a sense of security to keep cherishing each new day which overall helps increase life expectancy.
It turns out that one of the secrets to happiness is feeling like part of a community from an early age. Those who have discovered their Ikigai have everything they need for a long and joyful journey through life.