Ikigai Book Review : The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

Ikigai book review

Ikigai Book Review 

Authors- Hector Garcia Puigcerver and Francesc Miralles

Published by- Penguin Books

Language- English 

Pages- 208


Ikigai Book Summary

Sometimes We ask ourselves things like What is the meaning of my life? Is 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 wander in confusion?

In search of these questions, this Japanese concept, which translates roughly as

“The happiness of always being busy”

comes in light. After some research it is shown that this “Ikigai” is the deciding factor of longevity of Japanese people.

In the relevant case study, it is shown that village Okinawa in particular holds a staggering amount of old people (even many centenarians) and live by there own code, nature, teamwork and the most common thing in them is they work till death comes to them.

Okinawans live by the principle of ichariba chode, a local expression that means

 “Treat everyone like a brother, even if you’ve never met them before.”

It turns out that one of the secrets to happiness of Ogimi’s residents is feeling like part of a community. From an early age they practice yuimaaru, or teamwork, and so are used to helping one another. Nurturing friendships, eating light, getting enough rest, and doing regular, moderate exercise are all part of the equation of good health, but at the heart of the joie de vivre that inspires these centenarians to keep celebrating birthdays and cherishing each new day is their ikigai.

So here are some key points from the book that dwells in the secret of living a young and fulfilling life.

The ten rules of ikigai


1.Stay active; don’t retire


 Those who give up the things they love doing and do well lose their purpose in life. That’s why it’s so important to keep doing things of value, making progress, bringing beauty or utility to others, helping out, and shaping the world around you, even after your “official” professional activity has ended.

2.Take it slow

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.


3.Don’t fill your stomach to the brim

 Less is more when it comes to eating for long life, too. According to the 80 percent rule, in order to stay healthier longer, we should eat a little less than our hunger demands instead of stuffing ourselves.

4.Surround yourself with good friends

Friends are the best medicine, there for confiding worries over a good chat, sharing stories that brighten your day, getting advice, having fun, dreaming . . . in other words, living.

5.Get in shape for your next birthday

Water moves; it is at its best when it flows fresh and doesn’t stagnate. The body you move through life in needs a bit of daily maintenance to keep it running for a long time. Plus, exercise releases hormones that make us feel happy.


A cheerful attitude is not only relaxing—it also helps make friends. It’s good to recognize the things that aren’t so great, but we should never forget what a privilege it is to be in the here and now in a world so full of possibilities.

7.Reconnect with nature

Though most people live in cities these days, human beings are made to be part of the natural world. We should return to it often to recharge our batteries.

8.Give thanks

Give gratitude to your ancestors, to nature, which provides you with the air you breathe and the food you eat, to your friends and family, to everything that brightens your days and makes you feel lucky to be alive. Spend a moment every day giving thanks, and you’ll watch your stockpile of happiness grow.

9.Live in the moment

Stop regretting the past and fearing the future. Today is all you have. Make the most of it. Make it worth remembering.

10.Follow your ikigai

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.

Little things that add up to a long

and happy life

There is much wisdom in the classic saying

“mens sana in corpore Sano”

(“a sound mind in a sound body”)


 It reminds us that both mind and body are important, and that the health of one is connected to that of the other.

It has been shown that maintaining an active, adaptable mind is one of the key factors in staying young.

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

Just as a lack of physical exercise has negative effects on our bodies and mood, a lack of mental exercise is bad for us because it causes our neurons and neural connections to deteriorate—and, as a result, reduces our ability to react to our surroundings.

This is why it’s so important to give your brain a workout.


Stress: Accused of killing longevity

Many people seem older than they are. Research into the causes of premature aging has shown that stress has a lot to do with it, because the body wears down much faster during periods of crisis. The American Institute of Stress investigated this degenerative process and concluded that most health problems are caused by stress.

Be mindful about reducing stress


stress is an easily identifiable condition that not only causes anxiety but is also highly psychosomatic, affecting everything from our digestive system to our skin.


This is why prevention is so important in avoiding the toll that stress takes on us—and why many experts recommend practicing mindfulness.

The central premise of this stress-reduction method is focusing on the self: noticing our responses, even if they are conditioned by habit, in order to be fully conscious of them. In this way, we connect with the here and now and limit thoughts that tend to spiral out of control.

“We have to learn to turn off the autopilot that’s steering us in an endless loop. We all know people who snack while talking on the phone or watching the news. You ask them if the omelette they just ate had onion in it, and they can’t tell you,”


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.


Naikan Meditation

Morita was a great Zen master of Naikan introspective meditation. Much of his therapy draws on his knowledge and mastery of this school, which centers on three questions the individual must ask him-or herself:

What have I received from person X?


What have I given to person X?


What problems have I caused person X?

Through these reflections, we stop identifying others as the cause of our problems and deepen our own sense of responsibility. As Morita said, “If you are angry and want to fight, think about it for three days before coming to blows.

“After three days, the intense desire to fight will pass on its own.”






Imagine you are skiing down one of your favourite slopes. Powdery snow flies up on both sides of you like white sand. Conditions are perfect. You are entirely focused on skiing as well as you can. You know exactly how to move at each moment. There is no future, no past. There is only the present. You feel the snow, your skis, your body, and your consciousness united as a single entity. You are completely immersed in the experience, not thinking about or distracted by anything else. Your ego dissolves, and you become part of what you are doing.

This is the kind of experience Bruce Lee described with his famous “Be water, my friend.”

We’ve all felt our sense of time vanish when we lose ourselves in an activity we enjoy. We start cooking and before we know it, several hours have passed.

We spend an afternoon with a book and forget about the world going by until we notice the sunset and realize we haven’t eaten dinner. We go surfing and don’t realize how many hours we have spent in the water until the next day, when our muscles ache.

The opposite can also happen. When we have to complete a task, we don’t want to do, every minute feels like a lifetime and we can’t stop looking at our watch.

As the quip attributed to Einstein goes, “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That is relativity.”

The funny thing is that someone else might really enjoy the same task, but we want to finish as quickly as possible.

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.

The Seven Conditions for Achieving Flow

According to researcher Owen Schaffer of DePaul University, the

According to researcher Owen Schaffer of DePaul University, the

requirements for achieving flow are:

1. Knowing what to do

2. Knowing how to do it

3. Knowing how well you are doing

4, Knowing where to go (where navigation is involved)

5. Perceiving significant challenges

6. Perceiving significant skills

7. Being free from distractions

Flow is mysterious. It is like a muscle: the more you train it, the more you will flow, and the closer you will be to your ikigai.



Our ikigai is different for all of us, but one thing we have in common is that we are all searching for meaning. When we spend our days feeling connected to what is meaningful to us, we live more fully; when we lose the connection, we feel despair.

Modern life estranges us more and more from our true nature, making it very

easy for us to lead lives lacking in meaning. Powerful forces and incentives

(money, power, attention, success )distract us on a daily basis; don’t let them take over your life.

Our intuition and curiosity are very powerful internal compasses to help us

connect with our ikigai. Follow those things you enjoy, and get away from or

change those you dislike. Be led by your curiosity, and keep busy by doing things that fill you with meaning and happiness. It doesn’t need to be a big things, we might find meaning in being good parents or in helping our neighbors.

There is no perfect strategy to connecting with our ikigai. But what we learned from the Okinawans is that we should not worry too much about finding it.

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.

ikigai pdf

we urge you to read the full book for better understanding of the concept Ikigai

To download the softcopy of the ikigai book PDF , you can click on the link given below

ikigai pdf


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