| Maxverbal

Ikigai - A 'Spoiler-free' Book Review

M. Sai Apoorva

Wake up; get ready; and, willingly or otherwise, make your way to school, college or work; come back; and go to sleep. Such is the routine most of us have and such are the lives the majority of the people now lead. Each day seems prosaic in its own new way; yet, despite these feelings, we wake up with renewed vigour to go through this same routine, all over again, nearly our entire lives. No matter how exhausting it gets, we find ways to enjoy life; and, regardless of what we say, we wish to be able to wake up and go through it all everyday, never wanting to give up living - much akin to the ‘forever’ promises we often find ourselves making to our loved ones, even though we’re unaware of what might happen the very next moment.

There’s this innate desire, in every one of us, to live a long life, to see as much of the world, and to learn as much about it as we possibly can. We often ponder over this question but fail to realise HOW to do so? How can we live long? Is a will to live and explore the world enough?

Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia’s bestselling book, Ikigai, answers exactly these questions. The research for this book was conducted largely in the small village of Ogimi in Okinawa, Japan, known as the village of longevity. Nearly all of its residents are centenarians or nearing hundred years of age. This book is centered around the concept of ‘Ikigai’, that is, the reason for living, and makes us aware of how each of us must pursue our ‘Ikigai’ till we find it, for it is what makes our life worthwhile and allows us insight into our reason for living, into that which keeps us going.

Miralles and Garcia talk about some useful habits we can develop in order to live a healthy lifestyle and make our otherwise hectic lives a little more peaceful. All the wisdom they’ve tried to impart through Ikigai - specific exercises, diet suggestions, and ways to think and be more positive - comes from their having lived with and observed the residents of Ogimi. Excerpts from interviews with these centenarian elders allow us deeper insight into leading a happier, longer life.

The book contains chapters particularly designed to suit the tastes of a wide variety of people. Whether you’re in your twenties and want to reduce your stress and enjoy your life by finding your true purpose and passion, or you’re a thirty something adult wanting some peace in your hectic and monotonous life, or you’re nearing retirement but want to continue living a youthful life, Ikigai is the go-to. ‘The art of staying young while growing old’, ‘How to live longer and better by finding your purpose’, ‘How to turn work and free time into spaces for growth’ and ‘Exercises from the East that promote health and longevity’ are just some of the many lessons which, when incorporated into our lives, actually make our lives less hectic and fast-paced.

The book leans more toward providing detailed descriptions of the routines Japanese people, particularly the residents of Ogimi, follow, as opposed to other self help books that prescribe proper steps on exactly what to do and how to do it. So, if you’re looking for clear and precise directions on what kinds of food to eat (with recipes), what time to wake up, how exactly to go about everyday chores, then this book might not serve your purpose.

For all the people who are looking for a light read which would provide them with suggestions and easy to incorporate lifestyle changes on how to live longer, Ikigai will prove to be a great book. The simplistic writing style and explanations make it a fun read and the way the two authors have approached the book makes it suitable for people of nearly every age. Even for those who merely wish to learn about the concept of ‘Ikigai’, albeit in simple words, this book is perfect; for it not just gives suggestions but also provides explanations for most concepts and terminologies it employs.

We hope Ikigai helps all of you find your raison d’etre!