Japan seems to have more centenarians than any other country. In Okinawa, according to Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles (2017), at least 24.55 people per 100,000 inhabitants are over 100 years old. Not only do they live in longevity, but they also remain active until the end of their lives. According to the research carried out by Hector and his friend, these people suffer less from chronic illnesses such as cancer and heart disease, and enjoy a level of health that is unheard of in the elderly elsewhere. They also have lower rates of dementia than the global average. So how can they stay healthy and active for a long time?
The Japanese believe that everyone has something called Ikigai (生き甲斐). According to Hector & Miralles in their book “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life,” Ikigai is a concept that roughly translates as the state of being happy in the midst of busyness. It can be defined as something that gets you up in the morning.
Marc Winn illustrates Ikigai through a Venn diagram as shown below:
From the diagram we can see that Ikigai is in the middle of what we love, what we are good at, what we can be paid for and what the world needs. This means that Ikigai is something that we can enjoy doing in any situation and that we need to be good at. Then, as a bonus, it can be a profession for which we can be paid and even make a contribution to the world.
Look at Hayao Miyazaki, a director at Studio Ghibli, who is very passionate about drawing. He spent most of his time drawing the animations, some of which are familiar to us, such as Castle in the Sky, My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away and many others. When he retired, instead of going on holiday, he would visit his room in the studio, sit there and enjoy his work. Misao Okawa, the oldest centenarian, who died at the age of 117, also led this Ikigai. When asked about the secret of her long life, the answer is very simple – that we must learn to relax. All of this is actually related to the meaning of Ikigai.
From this we can conclude that knowing what we want to do in life is a key to living a happy life. Finally, I would like to ask you a question. Have you found your Ikigai? PRS.