Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means “A reason for being”. According to Japanese culture (and Wikipedia) everyone has an ikigai, but finding it takes a long and deep search of yourself. By all accounts though, it’s totally worth it, as it brings satisfaction and meaning to your life. How cool is that!
When I saw the book ‘Ikigai’ by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles sitting innocently on a book shop shelf, I Immediately fell in love with the cover, as I do have a tendency to be lured by all things slightly Eastern (other than their traditional style toilets! Seriously…. if you ever travel that way…always choose the Western style toilets if you can).
Anyway… side tracked by toilets there…as you do.
The cover of the book was beautiful and the write up on the back of it was full of promise about giving you a reason to jump out of the bed in the morning and find your purpose. That’s exactly what I needed..as I’m not a morning person at the best of times, and normally my purpose is Rioja.
And here’s were the book review bit kicks in. Brace yourselves…it’s not a great one, so sorry in advance to Hector and Francesc.
While the book shared lovely anecdotes from their travels, and interviews with the inhabitants of a small Japanese island called Okinawa, which has the highest percentage of centenarians in the world, it is basically a self help book which tells you how to live healthily for a bloody long time.
Yes, I want a long and happy life, but the reason I bought the flaming thing was to learn what my Ikigai is, not life philosophy (albeit good advice).
So to save you £12.99 and a few hours of eye rolling and tutting, these are the rules for a long and healthy life:
1. Don’t worry – ok, I’ll quit my job and complicated life and set up a small farm in Okinawa
2. Cultivate good habits – I’ll do tai chi everyday, stop drinking wine, cut out sugar, meditate, ad nauseam
3. Nuture your friendships – ok, I try to do that anyway, but if I move to Okinawa that’s going to start to be a problem. One which I shall probably then worry about.
4. Exercise – I do!!! Well…. I did. Do they have HIIT classes in Okinawa?
5. Eat lots of veg – I do eat veg AND fruit. At least I buy lots of fruit, and then watch it disintegrate in the fruit bowl. Does that count?
6. Live an unhurried life – are you having an actual laugh? Back to the farm in Okinawa I need to go.
7. Enjoy daily rituals (aka it’s the journey that matters, not the end point) – From this point on I shall do my best to enjoy emptying the bins, washing up, driving to work…. Hmm.
8. Be optimistic – I am optimistic about the fact that I will probably never have a farm in Okinawa.
Now for my own rules for finding your Ikigai:
Don’t waste your money on books that promise what they can’t ever truly deliver. My fault when you think about it, as how the hell would Hector and Francesc ever stand a chance in hell of telling me what my own personal Ikigai is!