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Book Review: 8 Japanese Secrets to a Long and Happy Life According to Ikigai

Book Review: 8 Japanese Secrets to a Long and Happy Life According to Ikigai

Book: Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

Author/s: Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles

Before anything else, let's know first about the two great minds who gathered and collaborated on proven concepts about Ikigai. 

Hector Garcia was born in Spain who works as an author and a philosophy enthusiast. For 18 years, he spent living and observed the culture in Japan. That greatly explains how he was able to deliver in-depth information about the norms in Japan. On the other hand, Francesc Miralles was also born in Spain. Furthermore, an award-winning author of inspirational, fiction, and self-help books. 


About Ikigai

In essence, these two authors have interviewed a lot of centenarians of Japan to understand the secret to remain happy and young at heart, even with old age. In Japanese, this is summed up with the word: Ikigai. Iki is "to live" and gai is "reason" — the reason to live. This ideology may seem to only appear in the contemporary period, but it already exists during the Heian period (A.D. 794 to 1185). 

The book introduces the factors and notion of Ikigai and its essential role in the lives of Japanese people. Additionally, the authors explain how stress affects our health and the secrets of slow aging.


Photo by Aziz Acharki on

The 8 Golden Rules of Ikigai

1. Don't retire; stay active.

After the authors arrived in Okinawa, people of all ages were so active with what they love. This was shocking news since we are taught to work hard to have a secured life when retirement comes. The Japanese don't practice this concept and encourage their youth to constantly stay active. Both Garcia and Miralles suggested making a priority to activities that you are passionate about in whatever stages you are in life.


2. Take it slow.

Being in such a hurry won't guarantee a quality life. The saying, "Walk in slow steps, and it'll take you to far places" resonates with this rule. When you think about it, when you rush through life, you'll miss out on the good moments and fun. By leaving the urgency behind, allows you to perceive life through a meaningful lens. Hence, encouraging you to be mindful, in control, and have more time to do what you wanted to do.


3. Don't fill your stomach.

Hara Hachi Bu is a popular concept that is commonly practiced in Japan; this means to only eat up to 80 percent. It was explained that it's much more recommended to practice Hara Hachi Bu to prevent your stomach from overworking. Therefore, less energy is exerted by your body to digest food. Eating less than what your hunger demands are one of the keys to a long life.


4. Surround yourself with good friends.

“Friends are the best medicine, there for confiding worries over a good chat, sharing stories that brighten your day, getting advice, having fun, dreaming . . . in other words, living.”

This was an excerpt from the book. Significantly, the above statement shows the vital role of interpersonal relationships. It was emphasized that Ikigai is only found between socializing with other people.


Photo by Bruno Nascimento on


5. Get in shape for your next birthday.

It was emphasized in the book that the body needs daily maintenance. The authors even compared it to water that best moves when in constant and don’t stagnate. When the body does a bit of exercise every day, it creates a big difference as it encourages healthy well-being. Plus, exercising affects our mood since it makes us feel happy.


6. Smile

When a person perceives a  bright outlook while recognizing the bad days, allows you to see the world that is filled with possibilities. Life is always ready to stumble you down, what matters is how you react and face it.


7. Reconnect with nature. 

Even if we are adept at living with the busy streets and crowded life in the city, it's only natural to seek peace in the environment. We are one with nature. It is only natural to recharge our batteries. In the book, the authors introduced the Japanese concept called shinrin-yoku. This translates in English as forest bathing.


8. Be grateful.

Always express thankfulness to the blessings you have received and for providing you the willpower to get through. No wonder this unique trait brightens your days. Then, observe how your happiness grows every single day. You are developing into a more contented person than before.