Ikigai: Why you need to try the Japanese secret to a long and happy life

Francesca Rice
Photo credit: Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury / Getty

From Country Living UK

If you tried the Scandinavian concept of Hygge last year, embracing the joy of cosiness, then it's time to turn your attention to a new lifestyle principle promising to boost your wellbeing: Ikigai.

Hailing from the Japanese island of Okinawa, Ikigai is designed to help followers focus on finding a new purpose in life. So, while Hygge was all about taking it easy, Ikigai is about taking action to boost your happiness.

What is Ikigai?

Chatting about the benefits of Ikigai to The Independent, Hector Garcia, the co-author of new book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, explained that the practice can be most beneficial to those of us who are unhappy at work or feeling a little lost during retirement.

Coming from the Japanese characters 'iki' and 'kai', the term translates as 'the result of a certain action'. It's similar to the French term 'raison d'être'.

While it may sound a little wishy-washy to the sceptics among us, the principle is backed by science with several studies proving that lacking a sense of purpose in life can be damaging. Indeed, a recent study showed that a life filled with purpose can even boost the quality of your sleep.

So, now that we're on board with the principle of Ikigai, how do we go about achieving it?

The secret is to work out when you feel like you have entered a state of 'flow', says Garcia.

How do you practise Ikigai?

"When we enter a state of 'flow' we lose the sense of time passing," he explains. "Have you ever been so absorbed in a task that you forget to drink and eat? What type of task was it? Notice those moments when you enter flow, and your Ikigai might be embedded in those moments. If you increase the daily time at flow you will increase your connection with your Ikigai.

"Your Ikigai is at the intersection of what you are good at and what you love doing."

Garcia believes that the principle of Ikigai can help you find more joy in everyday life, so that you spend more time doing the things that you truly value.

"I stop several times through the day and I ask myself: why am I doing this?" he says.

Then I have to learn how to make changes in my lifestyle to tilt towards more and more meaning. For example I've become stronger at my daily job when it comes to saying 'no' to things I know dislike and I'm not good at, and putting myself into situations where I'm doing things that I love and I'm good at.

"I've also put more time and dedication into my hobbies: yoga and photography, and I'm enjoying them more than ever."

Sounds good to us!

You can read more about Ikigai in Garcia's new book on the subject, out now.

BUY HERE: Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, Amazon (£12.99)