Ikigai, the guide to a happy & long life, was written by Hector Garcia & Francesc Miralles. They went in the villages of Japan where maximum centenarians lived & searched for the mystic secret to a long and happy life. They found similar habits & trends across all the “Blue Spots” around the world with high life expectancy. Here are the findings. Honestly, I think this book was definitely overhyped, specially for someone who grew in an Indian middle class home. If you just listen to your mom/grandmom.. you’re on track for Ikigai!

  1. What is Ikigai?
    1. According to those born on Okinawa, the island with the most centenarians in the world, our Ikigai is the reason we get up in the morning
    2. There is, in fact, no word in Japanese that means ‘retire’ in the sense of leaving the workforce for good as in English
    3. Only staying active will make you want to live a hundred years
  1. Eating Habits
    1. Eat till you are 80% full. Japanese present their meals on small plates. 5 plates on a tray give you the feeling that you are going to eat a lot
    2. Variety is key. At least 5 servings of fruit and vegetable (eating the rainbow). Grains are foundation. Eat sugar rarely, that too cane sugar
  1. Mental Health & Exercise
    1. Just as 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
    2. Studies from the blue zones suggest that people who live longest are not the ones who do the most exercise but rather the ones who move the most
    3. Finding flow. Choose a difficult task, but not too difficult. Then have a clear concrete objective. Concentrate on a single task rather than multitask . The Japanese are skilled at bringing nature and technology together: not man versus nature, but rather a union of the two
  1. Dealing with Stress –
    1. Differentiate between good or bad stress. Comparison with cave dwellers: They had good stress – find food, stay alive!
    2. The power of sleep and melatonin is underrated. Sleeping is a must!
    3. One of the most common mistakes among people starting to meditate is worrying about doing it right, achieving absolute mental silence, or reaching nirvana. The most important thing is to focus on the journey. Slowing down the centrifuge
  1. Lessons from centenarians
    1. don’t worry
    2. cultivate good habits
    3. nurture your friendships every day
    4. live an unhurried life
    5. be optimistic
  1. Greco Roman architecture adores symmetry, sharp lines, imposing façades, and buildings and statues of the Gods that outlast the centuries. Stone buildings give us the sense that nothing changes, making us forget about the passage of time. Japanese architecture doesn’t try to be imposing or perfect. It is built in the spirit of wabi-sabi – the beauty of imperfect, fleeting and changeable nature of the world around us
  2. Beyond resilience: antifragility! Get stronger when harmed. Japanese construction companies in the face of tsunami. How to incorporate it?
    1. Create more options (more sources of income, more friendships, not all eggs in one basket)
    2. Bet conservatively in certain areas and take many small risks in others (sustained mini bangs)
    3. Get rid of things that make you fragile
    4. Embrace randomness

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