The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

How to find ikigai: Japanese secret of a long, happy and healthy life


Source: Air force

Do you know why you get out of bed in the morning? If you can answer this question, then you have found your ikigai. This is a Japanese concept that, quite possibly, contains the secrets of happiness, long days of life and health.

Photo: Shutterstock

“You live because there is ikigai,” says Ken Mogi, a Japanese neuroscientist and author of Ikigai: The Meaning of Life in Japanese. “This is the reason why you get up in the morning,” writes Air force... In fact, there is no unambiguous translation of this ancient Japanese concept, but Mogi's explanation is as accurate as possible.

This concept originated in Okinawa, a group of islands south of Japan that, among other things, are famous for their high percentage of people over 100 years old. Many believe that the secret of their longevity is in ikigai. This concept is widespread in other parts of Japan, as can be judged by the example of Mogi. And now ikigai has begun to spread throughout the world.

Mogi believes it is very important to find activities that you enjoy and enjoy because they fill life with meaning and help you understand what you need from it. Ikigai is also closely related to your life energy.

“Ikigai is happiness, the essence of which is that you always have something to do,” says Francesc Mirales, who co-authored with Hector Garcia Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.

The main reason is that “if you find something that makes life meaningful, it will move you forward and give you an incentive to continue,” says Mirales.

How to find ikigay?

It is very easy to start living according to the principles of ikigay, and therefore more and more people outside of Japan are beginning to be interested in them. More and more books appear on this topic.

“Generally speaking, we constantly think about success and set great goals for ourselves, which makes the course of life intimidating,” says Mogi. “But you can start small with ikigai. Anyone can start with something simple, affordable, and then feel the joy and benefits that it brings, gradually moving towards greater goals. ”

What gives us pleasure

“You have to come to this on your own,” advises Mogi. - Start from scratch, look at yourself in the mirror: what are you as a person? Try to remember yourself in different situations and think about what gives you joy, brings you pleasure. This will serve as a hint. As a neuroscientist, I understand that what we enjoy is a reflection of our human nature. ”

Proceeding to the next level of ikigai is not easy. But Mirales has a number of ideas that can help: “If you do not really understand what you want from life, first make a list of what you don’t need: in what situations you feel uncomfortable or sad, what actions and deeds you would like to avoid ”. By starting with crossing out the unnecessary, you can determine what activities you enjoy.

"You may find that there are many things that make you happy: studying, gardening, helping people, solving problems, taking music ... or selling something, public speaking." So whatever you like will do. Mirales admits that many people find it difficult to find their ikigai.

“We've all met people who know from childhood what they need in life, but it's also true that most of us didn't know who we want to be when we grow up,” he says. This is also influenced by constant worries: “We go to school, look for work, we have daily responsibilities ... as a result, we can move away from our natural impulses.”

To find his hobby, Mirales suggests following the advice of computer scientist Randy Pausch, who became famous for his life-affirming speeches.

“Remember your childhood dreams. Did you enjoy drawing for hours on end? Dance? Run? Think of yourself as a child and think about what made you happy, but you stopped doing it, ”he said.

“The beauty of ikigai is that it works on a personal level,” says Mogi. - It is not served to you on a silver platter without any effort on your part. You need to really explore your mind and grow your ikigai. ” This is especially important in countries like Japan, where society is extremely homogeneous, Mogi says. “Because each person has their own ikigai. And it helps to understand the importance of the individuality of each person ”.

How much can a person have ikigai?

Life has many different layers, and this also applies to what gives us pleasure. Basically, it is important that you have different ikigai, from small to huge.

“Most religions believe in one god. But we in Japan traditionally believed that there are 8 million gods, says Mogi. - Perhaps this influenced the way the Japanese perceive ikigai: we do not believe that there is only one grandiose; we are not pursuing just one goal. There are probably thousands of different options that can bring you happiness. ”

Mogi explains the role that ikigai plays in his life: “My little ikigai is about running 10 km every day in Tokyo. But as a scientist, my greatest joy comes from new ideas and the opportunity to contribute to something meaningful in the world. This is also my ikigai. ”

Is there evidence of efficacy?

Mogi believes ikigay brings results. As evidence, he cites the results of a study by the University of Toho about the fullness of life (ikigai) and the mortality rate in the elderly. According to the study, among older Japanese, leading a balanced lifestyle, there is a link between life expectancy and the meaning of life: their immune systems, in particular, a kind of leukocyte neutrophils are more productive, so that people stay healthy longer.

Neuropsychologist Patricia Boyle conducted her research at the Alzheimer's Disease Treatment Center in Chicago. For seven years, she has watched 900 patients with a tendency to develop dementia. She came to the conclusion that the probability of developing the disease was 50% lower for those who set goals for themselves. Evaluating this scientifically, Mogi says it makes sense.

“The human brain has a unique quality - it can take control of the basic functions of the body. Sometimes he even knows how to heal himself, as demonstrated by the placebo effect. " “It's amazing how the brain controls your daily bodily functions. Finding your ikigai — the little things that make your life meaningful — will help you stay healthy for longer. ”

What makes you smile?

The peculiarity of ikigai, which distinguishes it from the usual hobby, is that ikigai does not bring immediate satisfaction. Ikigai moves you into the future and helps along the way. According to Mirales, there are other places in the world where living conditions are comparable to Ogimi. But why nowhere else in the world there is such a high percentage of centenarians? Perhaps the secret to ikigay?

“I think this is the determining factor,” he says. Another feature that sets Okinawans centenarians apart is their health in adulthood. They remain in good health for most of their long lives. An international team of specialists in Okinawa is constantly monitoring the inhabitants of the island who have reached a hundred years, the database of this study has been continuously updated since 1975. The researchers found that among the elderly in Okinawa, there is not only the lowest death rate in the world from various age-related chronic diseases. They also have the world's highest healthy life expectancy.


It is clear that not all of us are destined to live an idyllic life in the gardens of Okinawa.

“But each of us can create his own garden, wherever he lives,” says Mirales. He notes that although Okinawa is different from the rest of Japan, the Japanese have adapted this concept to their life, even if it is life in a large metropolis.

You don't have to move to bring ikigai into your life. You just need to understand the essence of ikigai and make this philosophy an integral part of your daily life.

“The ikigai philosophy is important because it allows a person to become self-sufficient, he does not need to seek the approval of other people,” says Mogi. - This is what makes you happy. You don't have to wait for other people to appreciate you and do you justice. ”

So if you want to live a long and happy life, you can look for ikigai within yourself. “It's not only a healthy life, ikigai is also a hope for the future,” says Mogi.

Follow success stories, tips, and more by subscribing to Woman.ForumDaily on Facebook, and don't miss the main thing in our mailing list