Ikigai; The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.

According to the Japanese, Ikigai is your passion, your mission, your profession, the reason you get out of bed in the morning or the French phrase, your ‘raison d’être, the most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence. What is important in your life? What floats your boat? Find this and you are on your way to discovering and experiencing Ikigai.

” Only those who remain busy want to become hundred ” – Japanese proverb

When you have discovered your Ikigai you have your passion and you dont’ want to retire or remove yourself from living. Your life has a purpose, you make plans and are engaged in the here and now.

The elderly of Okinawa (an area in Japan) never retire. Many start their day spending time in their gardens, where they grow many of the vegetables they eat and share with neighbours. Their day can then be filled with their occupation, activity or professions often ending with time in social clubs or specific groups of friends with similar interests. Their days are full and many are still thriving well into their 80’s and 90’s.

They share an ethos that the only time is the present, everything is temporary and this is what leads to a greater appreciation of life and who and what we have right now. Nothing is permanent and change, although challenging can have its own beauty whilst we focus on the here and now.

Stress can have a negative impact on our health. Meditation is an example to reduce stress, having a simple daily routine of small tasks can help ground us during periods of feeling overwhelmed.

Everyone in Okinawa stays physically active, walking each day, spending time in their gardens or dancing at one of their social clubs! They see physical inactivity as an indicator for decline; moderately intensive movement of your body equals a longer life. Equally, getting enough sleep and rest is important.

Nutrition: A healthy diet is of course very important. The diet on Okinawa is also called the ”wonderdiet”. It’s for example important to eat a variety of foods and not to overeat. The centenarians eat hardly any sugar. Often only 1x per week and then they choose cane sugar. They eat a lot of tofu and sweet potatoes and about 300 grams of vegetables per day. They eat a variety of foods and mostly plant-based. They also eat grains on a daily basis and eat small portions of everything several times a day. (The Green Creator)

Moving Forward

Build a social network with friends, friends, family and neighbours. On Okinawa, groups were created for people to meet regularly to spend time with each other and be supported in difficult times.

Taking part in activities and occupation, learning new things, helps to keep our minds active.

Go out in the nature, smile and be grateful.