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the Japanese secret to a long and happy life

Héctor García and Francesc Miralles

translated by Heather Cleary

Ikigai _ the Japanese secret to a long and happy life

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Book Details
 123 p
 File Size 
 3,549 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 9781524704551 (ebook) 
 2016 by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles
 Translation © 2017 by Penguin Random House LLC

About the Author
Héctor García is a citizen of Japan, where he has lived for over a decade, and of
Spain, where he was born. A former software engineer, he worked at CERN in
Switzerland before moving to Japan, where he developed voice recognition
software and the technology needed for Silicon Valley start-ups to enter the
Japanese market. He is the creator of the popular blog and the
author of A Geek in Japan, a #1 bestseller in Japan.

Francesc Miralles is an award-winning author who has written a number of
bestselling self-help and inspirational books. Born in Barcelona, he studied
journalism, English literature, and German, and has worked as an editor, a
translator, a ghostwriter, and a musician. His novel Love in Lowercase has been
translated into twenty languages.

Ikigai: A mysterious word

THIS BOOK FIRST came into being on a rainy night in Tokyo, when its authors sat
down together for the first time in one of the city’s tiny bars.
We had read each other’s work but had never met, thanks to the thousands of
miles that separate Barcelona from the capital of Japan. Then a mutual
acquaintance put us in touch, launching a friendship that led to this project and
seems destined to last a lifetime.
The next time we got together, a year later, we strolled through a park in
downtown Tokyo and ended up talking about trends in Western psychology,
specifically logotherapy, which helps people find their purpose in life.
We remarked that Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy had gone out of fashion among
practicing therapists, who favored other schools of psychology, though people
still search for meaning in what they do and how they live. We ask ourselves
things like:
What is the meaning of my life?
Is the point just to live longer, or should I seek a higher purpose?
Why do some people know what they want and have a passion for life, while
others languish in confusion?

At some point in our conversation, the mysterious word ikigai came up.
This Japanese concept, which translates roughly as “the happiness of always
being busy,” is like logotherapy, but it goes a step beyond. It also seems to be one
way of explaining the extraordinary longevity of the Japanese, especially on the
island of Okinawa, where there are 24.55 people over the age of 100 for every
100,000 inhabitants—far more than the global average.
Those who study why the inhabitants of this island in the south of Japan live
longer than people anywhere else in the world believe that one of the keys—in
addition to a healthful diet, a simple life in the outdoors, green tea, and the
subtropical climate (its average temperature is like that of Hawaii)—is the ikigai
that shapes their lives.
While researching this concept, we discovered that not a single book in the
fields of psychology or personal development is dedicated to bringing this
philosophy to the West.
Is ikigai the reason there are more centenarians in Okinawa than anywhere
else? How does it inspire people to stay active until the very end? What is the
secret to a long and happy life?
As we explored the matter further, we discovered that one place in particular,
Ogimi, a rural town on the north end of the island with a population of three
thousand, boasts the highest life expectancy in the world—a fact that has earned
it the nickname the Village of Longevity.

Okinawa is where most of Japan’s shikuwasa—a limelike fruit that packs an
extraordinary antioxidant punch—comes from. Could that be Ogimi’s secret to
long life? Or is it the purity of the water used to brew its Moringa tea?
We decided to go study the secrets of the Japanese centenarians in person.
After a year of preliminary research we arrived in the village—where residents
speak an ancient dialect and practice an animist religion that features long-haired
forest sprites called bunagaya—with our cameras and recording devices in hand.
As soon as we arrived we could sense the incredible friendliness of its residents,
who laughed and joked incessantly amid lush green hills fed by crystalline waters.
As we conducted our interviews with the eldest residents of the town, we
realized that something far more powerful than just these natural resources was at
work: an uncommon joy flows from its inhabitants and guides them through the
long and pleasurable journey of their lives.
Again, the mysterious ikigai.

But what is it, exactly? How do you get it?
It never ceased to surprise us that this haven of nearly eternal life was located
precisely in Okinawa, where two hundred thousand innocent lives were lost at the
end of World War II. Rather than harbor animosity toward outsiders, however,
Okinawans live by the principle of ichariba chode, a local expression that means
“treat everyone like a brother, even if you’ve never met them before.”
It turns out that one of the secrets to happiness of Ogimi’s residents is feeling
like part of a community. From an early age they practice yuimaaru, or
teamwork, and so are used to helping one another.
Nurturing friendships, eating light, getting enough rest, and doing regular,
moderate exercise are all part of the equation of good health, but at the heart of
the joie de vivre that inspires these centenarians to keep celebrating birthdays and
cherishing each new day is their ikigai.
The purpose of this book is to bring the secrets of Japan’s centenarians to you
and give you the tools to find your own ikigai.
Because those who discover their ikigai have everything they need for a long
and joyful journey through life.
Happy travels!

Table of Contents
Title Page
Ikigai: A mysterious word
I. Ikigai
The art of staying young while growing old
II. Antiaging Secrets
Little things that add up to a long and happy life
III. From Logotherapy to Ikigai
How to live longer and better by finding your purpose
IV. Find Flow in Everything You Do
How to turn work and free time into spaces for growth
V. Masters of Longevity
Words of wisdom from the longest-living people in the world
VI. Lessons from Japan’s Centenarians
Traditions and proverbs for happiness and longevity
VII. The Ikigai Diet
What the world’s longest-living people eat and drink
VIII. Gentle Movements, Longer Life
Exercises from the East that promote health and longevity
IX. Resilience and Wabi-sabi
How to face life’s challenges without letting stress and worry age you
Ikigai: The art of living
Suggestions for further reading
About the Authors

Ikigai _ the Japanese secret to a long and happy life
Originally published in Spanish as Ikigai: Los secretos de Japón para una vida larga y feliz by Ediciones Urano, Barcelona.
Illustration here: Abbie/Shutterstock All other illustrations copyright © 2016 by Marisa Martínez Graphics copyright © 2016 by Flora Buki

Cover illustration by Olga Grlic
Cover art direction by Roseanne Serra
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