Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life

Ikigai (生き甲斐,)

a Japanese term for “a reason for being”



The word ‘Ikigai’ usually refers to the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile.

10 Laws of Ikigai

After a long discussion of the philosophical questions of life one rainy night in Tokyo, researchers Héctor García and Francesc Miralles recalled the Japanese concept of Ikigai. What a French philosopher might call someone’s raison d’être, the concept roughly translates to “the happiness of always being busy.” According to experts, every person has an Ikigai — although they also warn that it may take a lot of patient soul-searching to find it. While there are many unique variations, it’s generally believed that finding balance between your passion, mission, profession, and vocation is the key (as seen in the graph below).


The Japanese island of Okinawa — specifically Ogimi, boasts the highest life expectancy on this planet. The locals teach us their secrets to living a long and happy life through what they call Ikigai.

20091007-Okinawa map_cityname2.jpg

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life teaches us this ancient wisdom found on the island (and to help us live happier and longer, of course). The authors of this created a short list of 10 rules to help beginners find their Ikigai based on the practices of the people in Okinawa.




1. Be active – Refuse to retire.

Just because we have everything or we grow old does not mean we should retire – there is enough time for us to do that when we die, but whilst here on this planet and with this life we should love for as long as we can and make it a priority to stay active – primarily mentally and physically in all stages of life.


2. Take it easy and slow – Do not rush.

We should let things be as they if we cannot add something worthwhile to them. We must not rush tasks and enjoy them – they are a part of our life, we cannot separate what we may find difficult in life as it teaches us and helps us grow stronger.


3. Fill our stomach to 80%.

We should not fill our stomach, up to 80% is best. By eating less we add more to our life. Most times hunger is in the mind and the stomach does not ache – the mind remembers food and taste and thats why we overindulge.


4. Find good friends and ease out toxic ones.

Friends are medicine for the mind and with them we confide, sharing stories, get advice, having fun and simply share our lives. Friends keep us sane and help us look at things from others perspectives.


5. Get in shape for the next birthday.

This body is a biological machine and requires gentle daily maintenance. We need not perform rigorous exercise but move around more like getting up and move our muscles. We must practice Tai Chi, Yoga or some simple stretching exercises – daily along with short walks.


6. Smile without ego.

We need to see the beauty that surrounds us even in the most difficult circumstances it is a privilege to be in the here and now – alive. Its not simply saying be positive but look at how worse things can be and fortunate we are.


7. Connect with nature.

We are part of this universe and within that there is a galaxy with a star system and our star The Sun with a little planet planet around it Earth – human beings are made to be part of the planet and this natural us we are part of. We need to connect with grass, trees, flowers even weeds and walk amongst them or hike or bike with friends as much as we can.


8. Be grateful.

We need to be grateful for our life, for the life of our family, loved ones and even those who come across us and teach us lessons in confronting our negative sides. Giving a simple thanks to someone or smiling from the heart helps the heart keep happy.


9. Live in the present moment.

Our thinking of what happened in the past or what will happen in the future denies us the opportunity to live where we are – in the present moment as this is where we are – its ok to think of the past or future, but we are here in the present moment.


10. Find thy Ikigai!

We all have a passion inside us, a talent, that gives meaning to our time on Earth and we need to maximise this talent and live it to the very end.







Mohammed Abbasi

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