We all want to live a long, healthy and happy life.
If you decode the secret to longevity across some of the elderly communities around the world, you will see a similar set of patterns.
The book “Ikigai, the Japanese secret for long and happy life” attempts to decode this pattern.
It analyses the lifestyle of people inhabiting the island of Okinawa in Japan and decodes their secret to long life.
As a matter of fact, Okinawa boasts of the maximum number of centenarians per 100,000 people alive.
So what does this elderly Japanese community do differently that makes them age so gracefully?
- What do they eat?
- How much exercise do they do?
- What does their social life look like?
- How do they handle stress?
- What’s their working life like?
- At what age do they retire?
All these questions are answered in this book.
And everything finally ties to one central theme i.e. Ikigai.
Ikigai is the Japanese word that derives from ‘iki’, meaning life and ‘kai’, meaning the realization of hope and expectations.
In short, discovering ones Ikigai is the reason behind longevity and translates to finding a reason for ones being in this world.
Understanding your Ikigai gives you the motivation to jump out of bed every day, and that’s a reason good enough for long and healthy life.
Here are the 10 key insights for a long and healthy living that I derived after listening to this book:-
#1. Stay Active
Stay active, both mentally and physically, without fail.
And keep moving daily, irrespective of your age.
Retirement doesn’t mean you stop working.
It just means you enter a new phase of life where priorities change but activity doesn’t.
#2. Go slow
Contrary to the modern lifestyle, Okinawa’s believe in living a slow but gradual lifestyle.
In their terms, the more hurry you are in, the less far you will go.
This is true both for the age as well as the success in life.
A little bit of stress is good and keeps you active, but always being in a state of anxiety is a sure shot way to kill your longevity.
People in Okinawa practice meditation techniques to kill stress.
#3. Less is more
When it comes to living a long life, food plays a very important role.
It’s the fuel that drives your mind and body.
As a habit, people in Okinawa follow the 80% rule i.e. stop eating when you sense that your stomach is 80% full.
It’s easy to say but hard to practice and needs a lot of conscious effort and control on your physical senses.
But if you actually want to live long and meaningful, don’t stuff yourself up. Always stay hungry.
Moreover, it is seen that eating a well balanced, plant-based diet rich in nutrition has a direct relationship with living longer.
#4. Have a life
Surround yourself with people whom you love and those who inspire you.
Nurture relationships and have quality friends around you.
Never get too busy in life and forget the people who matter to you.
Remember, it’s the people to people connect that brings the zeal to live longer.
#5. Get in shape
Our body needs some amount of daily moment.
Remember, getting in shape doesn’t mean going to the gym daily and working out.
Like people in Okinawa do, focus more on moving for your day to day errands.
Some examples of daily movement include walking to work, spending time in the garden, cycling to marketplace etc.
#6. Be cheerful
Being cheerful will help you stay relaxed and live a longer life.
You can’t just be cheerful, it has to come from within.
If you accept each situation as it is and understand that things won’t always be as great as they are right now, you will become cheerful.
Live in the present as the people in Okinawa do.
#7. Connect with Nature
It’s going back to from where you belong to.
#8. Be thankful
Be thankful for the things you have in life.
Be thankful to your friends, to your family, to your ancestors, and to nature.
Again, being thankful increases your cheerfulness and inner happiness and that helps you live longer.
#9. Live in the moment
If you live in the present moment, you will stress out less, won’t be in a hurry and stay cheerful.
In fact, this is the action which drives most of the other outcomes.
#10. Follow your Ikigai
This is the factor which impacts your longevity the most.
Your Ikigai is something that gives your life its purpose.
Think of it as your passion that makes you jump out of bed every day.
In other words, it’s the meaning of your life.
And once you have discovered the meaning of your life, you need to get into a flow and immerse into your Ikigai completely without being distracted.
That’s the Japanese secret to longevity.
And that’s what every person in Okinawa has in common.
But if you still don’t know your Ikigai, your mission should be to discover it.
This book is definitely your go-to guide to understand the secrets behind a long and healthy life.
While this book doesn’t help you find your Ikigai (no one in the world can), it definitely talks about how your journey should be once you have discovered your Ikigai.
I listened to this book on Audible and was a nice, easy and entertaining listen.
All in all, this book is definitely a great book in the self-help category.