Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy life – Book Review

Ikigai is definitely going to be my favourite books. A simple beautiful book about how and what you must do to make your life long and more importantly happy! The tagline of the book reads “The Japanese secret to a Long and Happy life” and that is exactly what the crux of the book is.

Ikigai is the reason for you to jump out of bed each morning. It is your existential fuel. It is a very simple fact that life becomes worthwhile when you are doing what you love. Having a place for our passions in our life is extremely important. Even if a part of my day goes in doing what I truly love, it would make my life worthwhile. This book helps you find that passion, that drive, your Ikigai!

This beautiful book tells you simple secrets that make life meaningful. These simple principles are what the longest living people in Japan follow. The most of the book studies the lifestyle from the cenetenarians of Okinawa and also some other blue zones, which are geographic regions where people live the longest. It talks about their lifestyle and the things that they do differently from the rest of the world. The philosophy behind a strong body mind and spirit!

The first chapter throws light on the word Ikigai. It talks about the blue zones and where they are. A very beautiful lesson that I carry back from this chapter is the 80 % rule, fill your belly only to 80%. The chapter also talks about the importance of community bonding in Okinawa.

Second chapter gives you the very simple antiaging secrets that we tend to slip on. It talks of the importance of staying active and how people who live beyond a 1-00 stay active even after they retire. It also talks about stress and how it ages us and the importance of a good nights sleep.

The second chapter talks about differences between psychoanalysis and Logotherapy. Logotherapy is very similar in its philosophy to Ikigai, It also motivates us to find our reason to live. Another very beautiful technique referred to here is the Naikan meditation. It is a beautiful technique to improve our gratefulness quotient.

The next chapter describes the beauty of going with the flow. It talks about how time becomes lucid when we are engrossed into something that we feel passionately about and how every minute is an hour sometimes. It talks about the importance of planning and having goals at the beginning of starting a task. Another very important thing I learnt here was the beauty of concentrating on a single task vis a vis multitasking. All these years I believed that multi tasking was my strength, but reading this I realized how much better I can perform when I keep myself focused. And especially in the world of social media, internet we can so easily loose our track. It also talks about Steve jobs experience in Japan and how he was impressed by a beautiful state of flow achieved by the people there who were following their Ikigai.

Another very beautiful thing this chapter talks about is the micro flow which leads to one enjoying mundane tasks. A beautiful quote from the book

Our ability to turn routine tasks into moments of microflow, into something we enjoy, is key to being happy, since we all have to do such tasks.


The author ends by telling how using the flow we can find our Ikigai, for Ikigai is where we easily come to a state of flow.

The next chapter has words of wisdom from longest living people in the world. These people share their secret to a long life and I found this so insightful. There is so much we can learn from experiences of others. It gives us a better chance at making the right choices.

Thereafter the author takes us to Ogimi which houses the most number of ceneterians. The chapter looks at the life and lifestyle of these people. Another chapter talks about the kind of diet that leads to a long healthy life.

The next chapter talks about the importance of working out and the kind of work out one needs to follow. The various rouines discussed include Radio taiso, Yoga, Tai Chi, Quigong and Shiatsu.

The last chapter talks about resilience and Wabi Sabi. Resilience is how well we can deal with setbacks in life. It talks about various techniques to build emotional resilience. It talks about Budhism and benefits of meditation. A very important topic in this chapter is wabi sabi and ichi-go ichi-e which means this moment exists only now and would not come again. The world is impermanent and ever changing.

Fall seven times, rise eight.

Japanese Proverb

Another very beautiful concept is Anti-fragility, which is something that goes beyond resilience or robustness. Resilience is the ability to resist or bear shocking circumstances. Whereas anti fragile is when something gets better on encountering shock.

This has been a beautiful reading for me. I have just shared a small glimpse of the very many beautiful take away from this book. If you like to read inspirational, motivational books that can help you enrich your life and make it happy and beautiful, this is an awesome read for you. Do read and share in comments any learning that particularly had an impact on you. Happy reading!

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I am a health enthusiast, healer and an artist and apart for these most importantly i am mommy to an angel and wife to a gentleman. I use to teach management graduates but post my daughter happened my time at home gave me chance to explore my other passions. Now as she is 5 year old I am still not ready to leave her and return to work.

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1 Response

  1. These are such inspiring words! Thanks for sharing your review. I want to read the book as well! I wish schools around the world would teach us more about these things…I think it will help us find our purpose and be able to contribute to society better.

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