A Little Book About Ikigai

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There is a book written all about Ikigai, and I thought I would share my review of it in this blog post. You can also read my last overview about Ikigai and why you should know what it is here.

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret To A Long And Happy Life is a lovely explanation of the concept, written by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles. I also want to give a thumbs-up to the Spanish > English translator, Heather Cleary, who made these difficult Japanese concepts sound absolutely beautiful in English.

It’s a short book packed with great stories. It helps explain why ikigai is one of the reasons that the Okinawan people of Japan not only live the longest, but are happy and surprisingly healthy. They include lessons and words of wisdom from the centenarians they interviewed, including tips on diet and movement (spoiler alert: they don’t go to the gym!). The authors also describe how achieving a state of flow when doing something, having a wabi-sabi perspective, and resilience are keys to a happy and healthy life.

Why Okinawa? 

This southern island of Japan was featured in the book Blue Zones by Dan Buettner, and it is one of the top areas in the world where people live the longest. The author looked at diet, health and fitness, but also discovered that having an ikigai is why the Okinawan people live the longest. 


One chapter I found particularly interesting was the one about flow. When you’re doing something you enjoy, time just flies. When you’re doing something you don’t appreciate, each minute can feel like an eternity. “The funny thing is that someone else might really enjoy the same task, but we want to finish as quickly as possible.” (Page 56) 

I feel this should be true of a career. If you love interacting with people, you may thrive in a customer service department. But if you’re an introvert, and talking to people freaks you out, then you will most definitely not appreciate going to that job every day. Don’t forget: it’s not easy to really know what you like or don’t like unless you take baby steps in any direction. Don’t get frustrated that you don’t know your ikigai just yet. Hopefully, you’ll be able to learn more about it via my blog 🙂

Flow is a muscle

It’s important to find what lights YOU up, and realize that it could be an opportunity that is so unique and wonderful to you.“Flow is mysterious. It is like a muscle: the more you train it, the more you will flow, and the closer you will be to your ikigai.” (Page 86) 

This is exactly what I talk about! You have to try those tacos to see if you even like them. Don’t just talk about whether you could like them, or don’t think you’ll like them, or whatever – you just have to take that first bite and then you will know.

What the heck is wabi-sabi?

This is one of my favorite Japanese words: it basically indicates that there is beauty in imperfection. “The key is to accept that there are certain things over which we have no control… Wabi-sabi teaches us to appreciate the beauty of imperfection as an opportunity for growth.” (Page 173) 

When it comes to careers, stop thinking that you have to have one perfect job that is your destiny, and that you will do it forever and ever. Allow yourself to not have all the answers, and just test the waters to see what you like. Allow yourself to change your mind and grow as an individual. By doing so, you will be working towards your ikigai and will be happier as a result. 


Keep in mind, though, that there will always be things in our lives that we don’t appreciate, but that are necessary. We don’t like to pay the bills. We may not like high school, trade school or college. Sometimes we have to endure such experiences, or abide by society’s rules, in order to get to the next level. Please don’t think it’s going to be easy. But also, don’t let the potential difficulty stop you. You have to get through challenges in order to grow and improve. 

In a previous blog post I wrote about my thoughts on the ikigai concept. I truly believe that you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone in order to take that next step in life. Giving up is so much easier, of course, and I know that we all struggle with getting out of our day-to-day habits… but try to take it one step at a time in a new direction. 

Recommend for my followers?

  1. If you’re wondering about your “why,” then I think you will get one step closer to it after reading this book. 
  2. You may also get really inspired to travel to or even live in Okinawa 🙂 

What do you think? Have you read the book? Can you apply any of these concepts to something that recently happened to you? Share below or reach out to me; I love to hear your stories!

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