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IKIGAI: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life Summary, Review, Notes

The primary takeaways from this book are how to live a better and happier life while also extending your lifespan. 

 

 

Héctor Garcia and Francesc Miralles, authors of the book “Ikigai: The Art of Finding Your True North,” provide a definition of the term as well as an exposition of its underlying concepts. 

 

To gain a deeper understanding of this occurrence, researchers in Ogimi, Okinawa, spoke with one hundred of the island’s centenarians and supercentenarians.

 

 

What we think about, we bring about. Several research has come to the conclusion that stress is the key component that contributes to an accelerated aging process. 

 

The writers of this book believe that the concept of ikigai is a significant factor in both the extraordinarily high quality of life enjoyed by Japanese people and their exceptionally long-life expectancy.

 

 

Book Title—  Ikigai, The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life
Author— 
Héctor García and Francesc Miralles
Date of Reading—   February 2023
Rating—  
8/10

Table of Contents

What Is Being Said in Detail

PROLOGUE. Ikigai: A Mysterious Word

The book’s prologue lays the groundwork for the investigation of ikigai and its significance in Japanese culture. 

 

The author discusses his personal experience of living in Japan and how the culture and manner of life there captivated him.

 

Although Japan is frequently thought of as a nation of invention and technology, the author emphasizes that it is also a nation with a strong regard for tradition and an emphasis on mindfulness and simplicity. 

 

The author observes that this cultural perspective has produced a special approach to health and wellbeing that places a premium on balance, harmony, and purpose.

 

CHAPTER 1. Ikigai. The Art of Staying Young While Growing Old

The first chapter of the book introduces the concept of ikigai, which translates as “a reason for being” or “a purpose in life” in Japanese. 

 

Ikigai’s origins and how it has been studied by researchers and philosophers over the years are further explored in the chapter. 

 

While there is no one-size-fits-all definition of ikigai, the author notes that it generally refers to the things that give our lives meaning and purpose, Ikigai has to be something you’re good at, something that you love, something that the world need and something that you can be paid for.

 

The author explains that while Japan is often associated with technology and innovation, it is also a country with a deep respect for tradition and a focus on simplicity and mindfulness. 

 

He notes that this cultural mindset has led to a unique approach to health and wellness, one that values balance, harmony, and purpose. 

 

The island of Okinawa holds the first place among the world’s Blue Zones where the community practices Moai, which is an informal group of people with common interests that look out for one another, they serve the community.

 

CHAPTER 2. Antiaging Secrets. Little Things that Add Up to a Long and Happy Life

The author reveals the secrets to living a long life in this chapter:

  • Younger body, active mind. Because the mind and body are inextricably linked, having a youthful mind motivates you to live a healthy lifestyle that will slow the aging process. We suffer from a lack of mental exercise because it causes our neurons and neural connections to deteriorate.

  • Eliminate long-term stress. The majority of health issues are caused by living in a constant state of stress.

  • A little stress is beneficial. Low levels of stress can be beneficial to our health.

  • Continue to be active. Sedentary behavior contributes to a variety of diseases; make a few changes to your routine, such as walking to work, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, playing with children or pets, and being mindful.

  • Sleep between 9 and 10 hours per night. This is an important antiaging tool because when we sleep, we produce melatonin, a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the immune system.

  • Maintain a positive attitude. Having a calm or stoic attitude toward life’s challenges can help us stay young by reducing anxiety and stress and stabilizing behavior.
 

CHAPTER 3. From Logotherapy to Ikigai. How to Live Longer and Better by Finding Your Purpose

Logotherapy assists you in discovering reasons to live. The author breaks down the procedure into five steps:

  1. A person feels empty, frustrated, or anxious.
  2. The therapist demonstrates to him that what he is experiencing is a desire to live a meaningful life.
  3. The patient discovers the meaning of his life (at that particular point in time).
  4. The patient chooses whether to accept or reject his fate of his own free will.
  5. His newfound enthusiasm for life aids him in overcoming obstacles and sorrows.
 

The author also discusses Morita therapy, which was developed in Japan prior to Logotherapy. In Japan, Shoma Morita developed his own purpose-centered therapy. 

 

Because their feelings will change as a result of their actions, Morita therapy focuses on teaching patients to accept their emotions without trying to control them. Its fundamental principles are as follows:

  1. Accept your feelings.
  2. Carry out your responsibilities.
  3. Determine your life’s purpose.
 

This relates to Ikigai in that both Logotherapy and Morita therapy are based on a personal, one-of-a-kind experience that you can access without the help of therapists or spiritual retreats: the mission of discovering your ikigai, or existential fuel.

 

CHAPTER 4. Find Flow in Everything You Do. How to Turn Work and Free Time Into Spaces for Growth                                                                     

When you give yourself over to anything, you forget about the passage of time. Every second seems like an hour when you’re doing something you really don’t want to do. 

 

Flow refers to the state of engrossment one experiences when performing an activity one enjoys. 

 

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, flow is the experience of bliss, joy, inspiration, and flow that comes from being fully present in the moment. 

 

You need to go into a state of flow, have an “ideal experience” if you wish to live according to ikigai.

 

The author cites Owen Schaffer, a researcher at DePaul University, who lists “knowing what to do” as one of the conditions necessary to enter a state of flow:

 

Having the requisite skill to accomplish the task.

  • Knowing what to do.
  • Knowing how to do it.
  • Knowing how well you are doing.
  • Knowing where to go (where navigation is involved)
 

The author provides us with three approaches to this:

  1. Choose the challenging option (but not too difficult). It’s a challenge since it’s within our capabilities but yet a little bit of a reach. Our desire to persevere to the finish of a struggle is rooted in the pleasure we take in the sensation of mental and physical exertion.

  2. Know what it is you’re trying to accomplish and make it crystal clear. Whilst your journey may not be without twists and turns, keep in mind that you will reach your destination far sooner and more effectively than if you had followed a predetermined course.

  3. Focus on what you’re doing. While it may seem logical to perform multiple jobs at once in order to save time, studies have shown that this is actually not the case.
 

It is also stated that our ability to transform mundane work into moments of microflow, into something we enjoy, is critical to our happiness, because we all have to complete such tasks. 

 

You can locate your Ikigai by engaging in pursuits that put you in a state of flow.

 

CHAPTER 5. Master of Longevity. Words of Wisdom from the Longest-Living People in the World

The author interviewed supercentenarians—people who live to be 110 years old or more—in Okinawa, which has its own chapter. 

 

Misao Okawa (117), Mara Capovilla (116), Jeanne Calment (122), Walter Breuning (114), and Alexander Imich (111) are among the interviewees.

 

García also draws inspiration from elderly people who continue to carry the ikigai torch rather than retiring.

 

CHAPTER 6. Lessons from Japan’s Centenarians. Traditions and Proverbs for Happiness and Longevity

In this chapter, the author recounts his visit to Ogimi, Okinawa’s capital, also known as the Village of Longevity, to interview the community’s oldest members. 

 

They noticed the lack of traffic as soon as they arrived. Houses were strewn about the mountain and seascape.

 

Ogimi residents have a vibrant social life centered on community centers. Volunteering is essential because everyone can contribute and feel like they are a part of the community. 

 

Celebrations and spirituality are an important part of village life and contribute to the happiness of the residents. 

 

The locals live an intense but relaxed lifestyle; they appeared to be preoccupied with important tasks but went about their business calmly.

Héctor García Quote

The following were the most significant statements derived from the interviews:

  1. Don’t be concerned
  2. Develop good habits
  3. Maintain your friendships on a daily basis.
  4. Live an unhurried life
  5. Be optimistic
 

CHAPTER 7. The Ikigai Diet. What the World’s Longest-Living People Eat and Drink

Okinawa was one of the most devastated areas of Japan during WWII. 

 

As a result of not only battlefield conflicts, but also hunger and a lack of resources after the war. However, as Okinawans recovered from the devastation, they became some of the country’s longest-living citizens.

 

The following are the fundamentals of the Okinawa diet:

  • Consume a wide variety of foods, particularly vegetables.
  • Every day, consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables.
  • Grains are the foundation of the diet; consume white rice on a daily basis.
  • Rarely eat sugar, and if you do, use cane sugar.
 

They also follow the Japanese rule of Hara hachi bu, also known as the 80% rule. When you realize you’re almost full but could eat a little more, just stop! You can make it easier by skipping dessert, reducing portion size, or fasting one or two days per week.

 

Okinawans consume a variety of natural antioxidants, including tofu, miso, tuna, carrots, kombu, nori, and soy sprouts. 

 

Okinawans drink Sanpin-cha, which is a mix of green tea and jasmine flowers, and they also drink the juice of shikuwasa, which is a citrus fruit that is used not only for juices but also in traditional dishes.

 

CHAPTER 8. Gentle Movements, Longer Life. Exercises from the East that Promote Health and Longevity

People who move around the most are the ones who live the longest, not the ones who work out the most. The people who live in Ogimi are very active. They walk a lot, get up early, and work in their gardens.

 

If you live in a city, it may be hard to move every day in a natural and healthy way because we tend to sit more. There are many Eastern practices that we can do at home to bring balance to our bodies, minds, and souls:

  • Yoga
  • Radio taiso
  • Sun salutation
  • Tai chi Qigong Shiatsu
  • Mindfulness of breath
 

CHAPTER 9. Resilience and Wabi-Sabi. How to Face Life’s Challenges Without Letting Stress and Worry Age You

Ikigai teaches you to pursue your dreams no matter what and to keep trying even when things don’t go according to plan. 

 

This is toughness. To deal with life’s ups and downs, proper mental, physical, and emotional resilience training is necessary.

 

The strength of resilient people comes from their adaptability; they are skilled at making adjustments in the face of change and setbacks. 

 

They focus on the variables they can influence and don’t worry about the variables they cannot.

 

Buddhism and Stoicism can help you develop emotional fortitude. Moreover, meditation can be beneficial since it allows us to become conscious of our emotions and desires and so liberate ourselves from them. 

 

By doing this, we can teach our thoughts to resist feelings of rage, envy, or resentment.

Héctor García Quote 2

Knowing which moment to live in is another essential skill for developing resilience. 

 

The moment is all there is, and it is the only thing we have control over, as both Buddhism and Stoicism provide as a reminder. 

 

Never should we lose sight of the fact that everything we own and everyone we care about will go at some point. 

 

Never forget that everything we own and everyone we love may one day vanish but resist the need to be gloomy about it. 

 

Knowing that everything is temporary should not be depressing; rather, it should inspire us to cherish the here and now and people around us.

 

A Japanese idea known as wabi-sabi demonstrates the beauty of the world’s impermanence, changeability, and transience. 

 

We should look for beauty in things that are defective or incomplete rather than trying to find it in things that are flawless. Ichi-go ichi-e, which roughly translates as “This moment exists only now and won’t come again,” is a complimentary Japanese idea.

 

And finally, antifragility. Antifragility goes beyond resilience; whereas the former can withstand shocks and remain unchanged, the latter improves. 

 

By doing the following three things, we can become antifragile:

  1. Make redundant positions. Rely on multiple sources of income.
  2. Make cautious bets in some situations while taking numerous tiny risks in others. Spend money on
  3. Do away with the things that weaken you. Improve your habits.
 

We should not fear hardship in order to develop resilience in our life because each setback presents a chance for improvement. 

 

If we adopt an antifragile mindset, we’ll figure out a method to become stronger with each setback, improving our way of life and being resilient centering on our ikigai.

 

EPILOGUE. Ikigai: The Art of Living

The author shares the work of Mitsuo Aida, one of the most important calligraphers and haikuists of the 20th century, as an example of a person that dedicated her life to the ikigai of communicating emotions with seventeen-syllable poems, using shodo calligraphy brush.

 

CONCLUSION

Our ikigai is unique to each individual, but we all share the common goal of searching for meaning. Modern life can make it easy to lose this connection, with distractions like money and success. 

 

To find our ikigai, we should follow our intuition and curiosity, doing things that bring us joy and fulfillment, whether big or small. 

 

There is no perfect strategy, but we should not worry too much about finding it. Ultimately, we should stay busy doing what we love, surrounded by people who love us.

 

In short, these are the ten rules of Ikigai:

  1. Stay active, don’t retire.
  2. Take it slow.
  3. Don’t fill your stomach.
  4. Surround yourself with good friends.
  5. Get in shape for your next birthday.
  6. Smile
  7. Reconnect with nature.
  8. Give thanks.
  9. Live in the moment.
  10. Follow your ikigai.
 

Most Important Keywords, Sentences, Quotes

CHAPTER 1. Ikigai. The Art of Staying Young While Growing Old

“Some people have found their ikigai, while others are still looking, though they carry it within them.”

 

CHAPTER 2. Antiaging Secrets. Little Things that Add Up to a Long and Happy Life

“Having a youthful mind also drives you toward a healthy lifestyle that will slow the aging process.”

 

“As such, though challenges are good for keeping mind and body active, we should adjust our high-stress lifestyles in order to avoid the premature aging of our bodies.”

 

“Achieving mindfulness involves a gradual process of training, but with a bit of practice we can learn to focus our mind completely, which reduces stress and helps us live longer.”

 

CHAPTER 3. From Logotherapy to Ikigai. How to Live Longer and Better by Finding Your Purpose

“Existential frustration arises when our life is without purpose, or when that purpose is skewed.”

 

“Morita therapy is not meant to eliminate symptoms; instead it teaches us to accept our desires, anxieties, fears, and worries, and let them go.”

 

CHAPTER 4. Find Flow in Everything You Do. How to Turn Work and Free Time Into Spaces for Growth

“What makes us enjoy doing something so much that we forget about whatever worries we might have while we do it? When are we happiest? These questions can help us discover our ikigai.”

 

“When we flow, we are focused on a concrete task without any distractions.”

 

“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.”

 

CHAPTER 5. Master of Longevity. Words of Wisdom from the Longest-Living People in the World

“A peaceful life in the countryside seems pretty common among people who have watched a century pass.”

Héctor García Quote 3

“If you want to stay busy even when there’s no need to work, there has to be an ikigai on your horizon, a purpose that guides you throughout your life and pushes you to make things of beauty and utility for the community and yourself.”

 

CHAPTER 6. Lessons from Japan’s Centenarians. Traditions and Proverbs for Happiness and Longevity

“They have an important purpose in life, or several. They have an ikigai, but they don’t take it too seriously. They are relaxed and enjoy all that they do.”

 

“They are always busy, but they occupy themselves with tasks that allow them to relax.”

 

CHAPTER 7. The Ikigai Diet. What the World’s Longest-Living People Eat and Drink

“The easiest way to check if there is enough variety on your table is to make sure you’re “eating the rainbow”.”

 

“When you notice you’re almost full but could have a little more . . . just stop eating!”

 

CHAPTER 8. Gentle Movements, Longer Life. Exercises from the East that Promote Health and Longevity

“You don’t need to go to the gym for an hour every day or run marathons. As Japanese centenarians show us, all you need is to add movement to your day.”

 

CHAPTER 9.  Resilience and Wabi-Sabi. How to Face Life’s Challenges Without Letting Stress and Worry Age You

“Proper training for our mind, body, and emotional resilience is essential for confronting life’s ups and downs.”

 

“The more resilient we are, the easier it will be to pick ourselves up and get back to what gives meaning to our lives.”

Héctor García Quote 4

“Worrying about things that are beyond our control accomplishes nothing.”

 

Book Review (Personal Opinion):

The Ikigai book is a great resource for anyone seeking to know how to live a fulfilled, long, and serene life. The wording is clear, concise, and easy to understand. 

 

It causes us to actively seek solutions to life’s most fundamental issues. It aids in expanding one’s worldview and discovering one’s ultimate calling.

 

The Japanese concepts presented in this book were interesting to me, however the book just scratched the surface of its subjects. In most cases, this is just common sense. 

 

If the authors had focused more on the “how” of ikigai, I would have been more satisfied. 

 

The book tries to cover a lot of ground, thus it spends too much time on the introduction to a lot of various things that don’t need to be introduced, like the steps to perform a sun salutation or some fundamental tai chi moves.

 

Whilst it could have benefited from more emphasis dedicated to the concept of ikigai as its central theme, this book is very uplifting and useful for letting its reader take a step back, slow down, and reflect on the meaning of life.

Rating: 8/10

 

This Book Is For:

  • People who want to live a long and happy life.
  • People who are looking for their purpose in life
  • People who want to face life’s challenges with a stress-free mindset.
 

If You Want to Learn More

Here is an interview with author Héctor García on how he finds (and honors) his life purpose, his Ikigai. Finding and retaining Ikigai, an interview with  Héctor García.

 

How I’ve Implemented The Ideas From The Book

I took some time to reflect on what I truly enjoyed doing and what made me feel alive. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had always had a passion for writing. With newfound clarity and motivation, I decided to start writing.

 

One Small Actionable Step You Can Do

One small step you can take to start applying the principles of Ikigai in your life is to begin incorporating mindfulness and reflection into your daily routine. 

 

Take a few minutes each day to reflect on what you are grateful for, what brings you joy, and what you are passionate about. This can be done through journaling, meditation, or simply taking a moment to pause and reflect.

 

By regularly reflecting on your values, passions, and purpose, you can begin to develop a deeper understanding of what drives you and what gives your life meaning. 

 

This self-awareness can help you make more intentional choices and align your actions with your values and purpose. 

 

Over time, this can lead to a greater sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in your life.

IKIGAI by Héctor García and Francesc-Miralles Summary Infographic