Ikigia, by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles
Want to be happy and live long? Ikigai is a little book to find out how. It looks at a group of Japanese people with a reputation for longevity. Two helpful definitions: Ikigai - always being busy. Icharika - treating all as brothers.
Other longevity places do exist - in Italy, USA, Costa Rica, Greece. Common factors include:
- stopping eating before you feel full
- eating plenty of tofu, sweet potatoes, fish and vegetables
- preferring natural to processed foods
- taking part in social activities helping others.
Two people are highlighted as having important ideas behind being happy and living a long life. During WW ll a POW in Auschwitz Concentration Camp found meaning in life in helping others. He was the Jewish psychiatrist Dr Victor Frankl. He challenged the view that our personal circumstances alone define our will to live and find happiness.
More recently, another psychologist, Mihali Czikszentmihaly saw a brilliant new way ahead. He called this 'flow'. This is living in the present with the sense of 'optimal experience'. From athletes to artists this can be achieved when maximum challenges are met with maximum skills. Maybe you've experienced this?
Mt Fuji seen through the waves at Manazato
If all this makes sense to you, then you will be interested in the various strategies to apply these ideas in practice. Choosing appropriate tasks, being in the present, feeling good and in control are important offshoots of flow. The book shows how people like Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, and Albert Einstein the physicist, understood and applied some of these principles.
Performers in the arts have a special place in this flow experience.
Bowl of Sushi | Hiroshige
We are taken on a visit to Ogini the Village of Longevity in Okinawa. Read about going to a local restaurant and listen to what Yuki the eighty-eight year old driver of the hosts' car says about eating the food and having a good time. Visit a birthday party of about twenty-four people whose youngest is aged eighty-three. Guess what they all end up doing...the answer may surprise you.
Futamigaura in Ise Province
If you like statistics, here are some to think about: Japan has the longest life expectancy in the world; 85 years for men, 87.3 for women. It has the highest rate of centenarians in the world; more than 500 for every million people. (World Health Organization, 2016.) Okinawa exceeds the national average. It is the only Japanese province without trains (therefore more walking), and it is the only one to eat less than 10 gm of salt per day. It's not those who do most exercise who live longest, but those who move the most!
I learn from Ikigai how to treat my own difficulties: Be resolved, persevere, and never give up!Replace anxiety with the will to accept what can't be changed, and the courage to change what can. This advice makes perfect sense to me as an eighty-six year old, and I recommend it wholeheartedly to you.
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