The Japanese have a history of living very long and fulfilling lives. They have the lowest rates of heart disease, cancer, and deaths from poor health. Why is this? MSN/lifestyle released an article that was aired on CNBC from a neuroscientist (Ken Mogi) that explains the theory and practice of Ikigai.
In Japanese, iki means “to live” and gai means “reason” — in other words, your reason to live. This ideology dates to the Heian period (A.D. 794 to 1185), but only in the past decade has it gained attention from millions of people — including researchers — from around the world.
The ikigai way of life is especially prominent Okinawa, in a group of islands south of mainland Japan. (It has also been nicknamed as the “Land of Immortals” because it has among the longest lifespans and highest rates of centenarians in the world.)
In a 2008 study from Tohoku University, researchers analyzed data from more than 50,000 participants (ages 40 to 79) and found that those who reported having ikigai in their lives had reduced risks of cardiovascular diseases and lower mortality rates. Put another way, 95% of respondents who had ikigai were still alive seven years after the initial survey compared to the 83% who didn’t.
- What is your reason for waking up? The Japanese do not live their lives like Americans where you work for so many years and then you retire. They believe everyone has a reason to wake up. They follow this path until death. In Taiwan, you will see 100 yr. old citizens still fishing, babysitting, and teaching martial arts. They stay active! They maintain their sense of purpose. Find your meaning in life. There’s no single way to find your ikigai, but you can start by asking a few simple questions: What makes you happy? What are you good at? What (and who) do you value? What motivates you to get up in the morning?
- Start Small! This should apply to EVERYTHING in your life. Artisanal farmers, for example, devote all their time and effort into creating the best and tastiest produce. They get the soil right. They prune and water their produce with care. They sense of starting small propels them to go incredible lengths.
- Release Yourself. Accept yourself and let go of obsessions. See everything in a clear and positive light.
- Be in Harmony and Maintain Your Sustainability. You will never succeed in life or be happy as long as you are at conflict with others. A sense of community will give you motivation and positive support.
- Find Your Joy in the Small Things. Enjoy the morning air with your cup of coffee and be thankful for your small blessings that can bring you a large amount of peace.
- Be Present. Focus on being in the here-and-now and keep your focus on the present. Don’t dwell on the past and don’t fear for the future.
Ken Mogi is a neuroscientist, lecturer, and best-selling author. This information comes from his book “Awakening Your Inner Ikigai” which has sold nearly one million copies.
Ref. MSN/lifestyle, cnbc.com
Photo courtesy of Bing via ikigai-coaching.com