Hidden deep inside each of us, we all have what is called ikigai. This mysterious Japanese word translates to a sense of purpose in life or what a French philosopher might call a “raison d’être”. While many may have found their ikigai, others continue their ongoing search for it although it resides within them.
Authors Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles wrote the international bestseller book Ikigaiwhile researching the concepts of longevity and meaning or purpose in life. The book was born through the discovery of this Japanese philosophy on longevity and happiness, in particular while studying why the inhabitants of the island Okinawa in the south of Japan live longer than people anywhere else in the world. For every 100,000 inhabitants in Okinawa, 24.55 people are over the age of 100 which is far more than the global average.
Known as the Village of Longevity, Okinawa holds first place among the world’s Blue Zones which include 5 regions in the world where people live the longest. The other blue zones include Sardinia (Italy), Loma Linda (California), The Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica), and Ikaria (Greece). Members of these communities consume little meat or processed foods, walk rather than drive, and enjoy gardening and growing their own vegetables. A common saying in Japan known as “hara hachi bu” refers to the ancient wisdom advising them to “fill the belly to 80 percent” and avoid overeating and burdening the body with long digestive processes which accelerate ageing. Okinawans have a body mass index between 18 and 22 compared to 26 or 27 in the United States.
It appears that nurturing friendships, keeping busy and active, eating light, getting enough rest and fostering yuimaaruor strong social ties and a sense of community are all essential elements for good health. However at the heart of the joie de vivre that inspires these centenarians to joyfully cherish each day is their ikigai. The book goes on to describe the experiences of many centenarians who may have had difficulties in their lives, but are equipped with a positive attitude and a high degree of emotional awareness and resilience – another key element for longevity. The concept of Ikigai offers readers insights into time-tested approaches that inspire purpose and passion in a way that moves us from material possessions towards a life where living with less creates happiness, vitality and longevity.
The concept of Ikigai offers readers insights into time-tested approaches that inspire purpose and passion in a way that moves us from material possessions towards a life where living with less creates happiness, vitality and longevity.
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