Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life Review

Reading new books is a regular part of our culture. This book review of "Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life" is written by Titan Saili Sabnis, Social Media Executive at Socinova.

ikigai review

It is said that everything happens for a reason. I guess even this quarantine has a reason, a purpose. The covid-19 outbreak is the reason for this quarantine, but it seems it has a different purpose too. For me, the purpose of this quarantine is to reset things- a reset for nature and a reset for our life too. Well, it has been for me for sure. 

It has been few days when I was reading this book Ikigai - The Japanese Secret to Long and Happy Life. This book is all about the purpose of one's life, and how it can lead to happiness. The author's Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles when learned about Ikigai, decided to find the real meaning and how it works. They decided to visit Okinawa, the island with the most centenarians in the world, who believe that their Ikigai is the reason to get up every morning. Just like the authors, Ikigai was a mystery for me too. Reading about the island and the community, centenarians, left me puzzled and curious to know and understand more about it. Now reading this book was not just a quarantine pass time activity, it was a mystery to be unfolded. 

In simple terms, Ikigai means the purpose of your life, the reason why you are born. Everybody has a purpose in their life. Without a purpose to fulfill, or a goal to chase, life would appear meaningless. Ikigai is a combination of what you love, what are you good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. A compound of your passion, profession, mission, and vocation. In Okinawa, everyone has a purpose, if not, they help each other as a community to find the purpose. 


The Logo Therapy

If there is a meaning, a purpose in every life, there has to be a way to find it too. There are various ways through which you can find the purpose of your life. It requires patience as your search for your purpose is not time-bound. Some find it quickly, some take time, although everyone carries it within themselves. In this book, they have explained Logo Therapy by Viktor Frankl. This therapy is based on the idea that we humans are most motivated by a search for meaning, showing that the meaning of life is the biggest quest in our minds. This therapy can help you to find your purpose. Exploring this therapy, I soon realized that I was not just reading it. I was trying to apply this therapy to find what my purpose is according to the therapy. This therapy makes you think about all the things you have done till now, recall the life you have been living and that is how you see the purpose that is hidden deep within you. 

As I finished the chapters about the centenarians and the purpose of life, it got me thinking about how can just a purpose help a person to live a life that is 117 years long. There has to be some other secret too. The following chapters not only answered my curiosity but also left me astonished- how small things in life can make bigger differences. It is not just the purpose but the way of life and our thoughts that help us chase the purpose and lead us to a happy life. The way of life includes our health, our thoughts, and our attitude. 

The 80% Secret

"Hara Hachi bu" is a common Japanese saying which means something like fills your belly up to 80%. We should stop eating as we start feeling full. This helps to prevent long digestive processes and accelerate cell oxidation that helps to live a happier life for a longer period. This was about one's health but can also be applied to the 'purpose'. Whatever we achieve is always 80% of our actual purpose. There is always a scope for betterment, there is always a chance of doing something more. This 20% can be our next 100% to achieve.


In Okinawa moai means the informal groups formed by the people with similar interests that look out for one another. These moai can also help people find their purpose or through them, serving others in the community becomes your Ikigai. I find this moai an excellent practice to create great team bonding and also for the overall development of a team or community. When there is such a community bonding, one will never feel left out, or worthless in their life. I loved the fact that in Okinawa, they believe in growing as a community rather than as an individual. This is another secret to a happy life.

Whatever you do, don't retire.

Among all the things I discovered in this journey, this was the most fascinating thing for me. In Japanese, no word means to retire. When someone retires from work, it is like discarding the purpose of your life and hence this idea of retirement simply doesn't exist in the Japanese culture.

Your mind must stay young and healthy like your body. As we do physical exercises to keep our body healthy and look young, our mind also needs exercise. Our mind also needs a regular workout to stay young and healthy.

My journey from a mysterious word to My Ikigai

I would say it a journey because while reading this, I feel like I have traveled to the island of Okinawa in my mind with the authors. Started with the purpose of just reading, it took me on a journey to discover many secrets to happiness. Every life has a purpose, all we need to do is find it. If you haven't found it yet, do not stop, carry on the search for it.

Perhaps this search of purpose is itself a purpose because in this process of searching one might come across or fulfill many smaller purposes. I am happy to realize my purpose in life. And even happier that unknown of my Ikigai until now, I have been working in the right direction. I have learned that it is not necessary to have one big purpose. One can have numerous smaller purposes that collectively contribute to one big purpose of life; being happy.

What we must do is follow our hearts and do things that make us happy. It can be as big as a great invention or as simple as talking to someone. What matters is the smile on the face and peace of mind that we get. Like me, I hope you guys too find your Ikigai soon.

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