Reading Time: 2 minutes
My book review is on a book by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles titled Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life. I knew absolutely nothing about this subject when I selected the book, except that when people find their ikigai, they are typically good at finding their flow. It is a Japanese concept that perhaps explains why the Japanese live much longer lives than the rest of the population. Some takeaways include:
  • Japanese people believe that having purpose in your life is so important that our concept of retirement is non-existent.
  • According to the author’s research, the four keys to living a long life are: having purpose (ikigai), strong social ties, movement, and diet.
  • Morita therapy, which was developed by Shoma Morita, a Zen Buddhist, teaches that we should accept and acknowledge our emotions, including anxieties and desires, without trying to control them. Simply let go of them. He explained this in a fable about a donkey that is tied to a post trying to free itself by walking in circles. As he does so, he becomes increasingly unable to get free.
  • A compass is better than a map. When we are facing uncertainty, the key is to just keep moving in the right direction. Getting lost in the details of a rigid route may actually cost you time.
  • Embrace “rituals over goals.” Find rituals that you enjoy using. “Rituals give us clear rules and objectives, which help us enter a state of flow. When we have only a big goal in front of us, we might feel lost or overwhelmed by it; rituals help us by giving us the process, the substeps, on the path to achieving a goal. When confronted with a big goal, try to break it down into parts and then attack each part one by one.” (p. 85)
  • If you are struggling to find your ikigai, ask yourself these questions: “What do the activities that drive you to flow have in common? Why do those activities drive you to flow? For example, are all the activities you most like doing ones that you practice alone or with other people? Do you flow more when doing things that require you to move your body or just to think?” (p. 86)
That is just a small part of what this book offers. While it is mostly targeted at individuals, there are some good ideas for project teams – including the idea of team rituals and staying focused on the right goal.