Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

Kunvuth MonyKanchna / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
‘Ikigai’ is a Japanese word for ‘life worth living’

A lot of us go through life feeling lost; doing things we’re only supposed to do as opposed to doing things that give us joy. Sometimes we may have already found our passion, but may be too afraid to go for it. Stress then occurs and you may try to distract yourself with things that give you pleasure, things that make you feel “alive”. Unfortunately, most of those things become a destruction to your life. They may be binge-eating, alcohol, drugs, unprotected sex – the list goes on.

‘Ikigai’, a Japanese word for life worth living, introduces us to ways we can turn our lives around and become productive citizens that are physically, emotionally and spiritually well.

Blue zones is the name for places where people live the longest, they are found in Okinawa of Japan, Sardinia of Italy, Loma Linda of California, Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, and Ikaria of Greece. With their ikigai, people of these regions outlive those people of the other nations. You think you need special diets and drink less alcohol to gain the best of benefits? You may be surprised to find how ikigai actually turns out to be the irony of those beliefs.

Loneliness can really take a toll in life. Knowing that you are surrounded by a group of people who care about you, those you can count on, it can be quite fulfilling in a way that you know you are safe. This can be annoying to learn because socialisation may not be an ideal choice to some, and I, myself, is in that category.

Authors of the book, Hector Garcia Puigcerver and Francesc Miralles, suggest a few habits you can practice in order to achieve ikigai. For instance, there’s the “pomodoro” technique, in which you can break down and manage work to make it less like work and more enjoyable. There’s another practice dubbed “hara hachi bu”, in which one should limit his food intake to 80% full each meal, which I believe can be quite a challenge for most people. They also encourage martial arts and the practice of mindfulness.

To add up the effects of ikigai, adopting healthy habits should go along with exercising the right ways of thinking. You can practice negative visualisation by reflecting on negative events so you won’t cave in when you get confronted with huge challenges.

Some people who had been through traumatic incidents such as loss, may break down and allow the experience to rotten their sense of purpose. Ikigai contains the art of anti-fragility, the ability to strive for improvement when exposed to a traumatic event in life.

Author: Hector Garcia Puigcerver and Francesc Miralles
Publication: Thorndike Press, 2016

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