Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

Last night, I finished reading this book. More than learning about how important it is to find one’s Ikigai (joie de vivre or reason for being ) and how this could help one be a centenarian, I was reintroduced to the concepts that I have learned in the 10 + years that I have been taking interest in metaphysics, existentialism, esotericism and the like, and really, these thoughts took on a whole new meaning for me now that I’m older and a parent.

1. Finding your Microflow and enjoying the mundane tasks – I first read about finding the “flow” in a book by Csikszentmihalyi wherein he said that when you find your flow (or when work becomes play for example) you’ll be a happier person. But in this book, they discuss the Microflow or the small,monotonous tasks such as washing the dishes and how one must bask in it to find joy.

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

Now that spoke volumes to me. Being a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), I am all about the micro-flow. It could get so boring sometimes but seeing my son’s eyes light up every time he hears the same story and sees the same picture like it’s the first time, and hearing him say new words everyday, I know I made the right choice. At the end of the day, it makes me feel fulfilled.

2. Antifragility – “We use the word fragile to describe people, things,and places that are weakened when harmed, and the words robust and resilient for things that are able to withstand harm without weakening, but we don’t have a word for things that get stronger when harmed (up to a point)”.

Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness.The resilient resists shocks and stays the same;the antifragile gets better.

3. Wabi Sabi – a Japanese concept that shows us the beauty of the fleeting, changeable,and imperfect nature of the world around us. Instead of searching for beauty in perfection,we should look for it in things that are flawed,incomplete.

4. Ichi-go ichi – e. This could be translated as“This moment exists only now and won’t come again.” This is a rather straightforward and in-your-face reminder of the obvious. That what we have is now and therefore we should be in it, fully. That we should always be mindful of the present so as to not get trapped in the regrets of the past (by inaction) or be frozen by fear of the future.

I like how the authors, Héctor García and Francesc Miralles described and translated this Japanese concept to make it so much easier to grasp by those who are new to it. Through the stories of real people and how they applied this practice to their daily lives and attributed such to their happiness and longevity, the seemingly foreign concept that is Ikigai, became so much more relatable and familiar.

This book made me feel good about my choices in life. It validated my resolve to live simpler, to love deeper and to pursue the things that I love notwithstanding time constraints. This book made me expand my time horizon. I am so excited!

So, be messy, be random, be redundant, go on adventures . It’s okay. For as long as you know your Ikigai, you will live a long and full life.

How did you find your Ikigai? What steps did you take to finally find it and make a living while pursuing it? What are you currently doing to stick to it? Let me know in the comments section!

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