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IKIGAI - A Japanese secret to a long and happy life.

Ikigai is a Japanese concept referring to something that gives a person a sense of purpose

and a reason for living. According to the residents of Japanese village, our ikigai is the reason we get up in the morning.

According to the Japanese, everyone has an ikigai. Some people found their ikigai, while others are still looking, though they carry it within them.

Ikigai brings satisfaction, happiness and meaning to our lives. Ikigai (ee-key-guy) is a Japanese concept that combines the terms iki, meaning “alive” or “life,” and gai, meaning “benefit” or “worth.” When combined, these terms mean that which gives your life worth, meaning, or purpose. Ikigai is similar to the French term “raison d’etre” or “reason for being.”

The Ten Rules of Ikigai

1. Stay active; don’t retire.

“Those who give up the things they love doing and do well lose their purpose in life. That’s why it’s so important to keep doing things of value, making progress, bringing beauty or utility to others, helping out, and shaping the world around you, even after your“official” professional activity has ended.”

2. Take it slow.

“Being in a hurry is inversely proportional to the quality of life. As the old saying goes, “Walk slowly and you’ll go far.” When we leave urgency behind, life and time take on new meaning.”

If you are in a hurry it incites that you are not in control and under stress. By taking things slow it means you are more mindful of your decisions, in control and more often than not doing the things you want to do.

3. Don’t fill your stomach.

“Less is more when it comes to eating for long life, too. According to the 80 percent rule, in order to stay healthier longer, we should eat a little less than our hunger demands instead of stuffing ourselves.”

This Japanese proverb translates to ‘Eating to only 80% full keeps the doctors away’. Hara hachi bun me is a 2500-year old Japanese Confucian that means ‘stomach eight parts full’. You mostly hear Japanese just say ‘hara hachi bu” towards the end or on completion of eating a meal to indicate they feel almost full.

Think of hara hachi bun me as mantra that represents a form of wisdom-based calorie restriction that the Japanese have practiced for hundreds of years. You could say ‘Hara hachi bun me’ before or towards the end of your meal to remind you not to overeat.

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.”

‘Young people often say “My life has no ikigai”. This is obvious. People who isolate themselves can’t have ikigai — meaning or purpose. Ikigai is only found in interpersonal relationships – Ishikawa Tatsuzō

The above quote highlights the importance of interpersonal relationships. Without relationships and friendships, we can’t experience connection, intimacy or love, nor can we share our joys, hopes, struggles, and fears.

When we consider that we now spend more of our time alone looking at screens than we do spending time with our friends, this rule acts as a reminder of the importance of friendship and all its benefits. Instead of looking through a social media feed, call an old friend and make a date to catch up.

5. Get in shape for your next birthday.

“Water moves; it is at its best when it flows fresh and doesn’t stagnate. The body you move through in life needs a bit of daily maintenance to keep it running for a long time. Plus, exercise releases hormones that make us feel happy.”

6. Smile

“A cheerful attitude is not only relaxing — it also helps make friends. It’s good to recognize the things that aren’t so great, but we should never forget what a privilege it is to be in the here and now in a world so full of possibilities.”

7. Reconnect with nature

Though most people live in cities these days, human beings are made to be part of the natural world. We should return to it often to recharge our batteries.

“Are you familiar with the Japanese word shinrin-yoku. It translates to ‘forest bathing’ and means connecting with nature using the five senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. It is a mindfulness practice to help you reconnect with nature so that you can rejuvenate the body and give the mind a moment of peace.”

8. Give thanks

“To your ancestors, to nature, which provides you with the air you breathe and the food you eat, to your friends and family, to everything that brightens your days and makes you feel lucky to be alive. Spend a moment every day giving thanks, and you’ll watch your stockpile of happiness grow.”

9. Live in the moment

“Stop regretting the past and fearing the future. Today is all you have. Make the most of it. Make it worth remembering.”

“The present moment is all you ever have. There is never a time when your life is not ‘this moment.’ Is this not a fact?” – Eckhart Tolle

10. Follow your ikigai

ikigai as a spectrum, and that you can have several ikigai, anything from enjoying your morning coffee to working towards a life-defining goal.

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