The word ikigai roughly translates to “reason for living,” or the reason you wake up every morning — similar to the French raison d’etre. In researching this book, the authors interviewed the residents of the Japanese village with the highest percentage of 100-year-olds—one of the world’s Blue Zones. They uncover some common patterns to longevity and share practical tips for adopting them, from what to eat, all the way to how to enjoy the little moments in life.
Beautiful, eloquent and inspiring.
Big ideas from the book:
Blue Zones (areas of the world with the longest-living populations)
According to scientists who have studied the five Blue Zones, the keys to longevity are diet, exercise, finding a purpose in life (an ikigai), and forming strong social ties—that is, having a broad circle of friends and good family relations
Meaning and purpose
Existential crisis, on the other hand, is typical of modern societies in which people do what they are told to do, or what others do, rather than what they want to do.
In Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl cites one of Nietzsche’s famous aphorisms: “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”
As Morita writes in his book Morita Therapy and the True Nature of Anxiety-Based Disorders, “In feelings, it is best to be wealthy and generous.” Morita explained the idea of letting go of negative feelings with the following fable: A donkey that is tied to a post by a rope will keep walking around the post in an attempt to free itself, only to become more immobilized and attached to the post. The same thing applies to people with obsessive thinking who become more trapped in their own suffering when they try to escape from their fears and discomfort.
Hara hachi bu is an ancient practice. The twelfth-century book on Zen Buddhism Zazen Youjinki recommends eating two-thirds as much as you might want to. Eating less than one might want is common among all Buddhist temples in the East. Perhaps Buddhism recognized the benefits of limiting caloric intake more than nine centuries ago.
Healthy foods eaten by Okinawan’s
Shikuwasa is the citrus fruit par excellence of Okinawa, and Ogimi is its largest producer in all of Japan. The fruit is extremely acidic: It is impossible to drink shikuwasa juice without diluting it first with water. Its taste is somewhere between that of a lime and a mandarin orange, to which it bears a family resemblance. Shikuwasas also contain high levels of nobiletin, a flavonoid rich in antioxidants. All citrus fruits—grapefruits, oranges, lemons—are high in nobiletin, but Okinawa’s shikuwasas have forty times as much as oranges.
A quote from the book:
“Existential crisis, on the other hand, is typical of modern societies in which people do what they are told to do, or what others do, rather than what they want to do.”