The Banyan Shades

Ikigai: the Japanese secret to a long and happy life. By Hector Carcia and Fancesc Miralles

A person looking at a green landscape and meditating

Richa Thakur

In this blog, we will be looking at a book that gives us a practical roadmap for life. The book is named Ikigai and is written by two authors: Hector Carcia and Fancesc Miralles. Perhaps the most famous things that got out of this book is the diagram of Ikigai: which simply states that we find our purpose in middle of four things: What we are good at, what we love, what the world needs, and what we can be paid for. It’s a perfect system of what value we offer to the world and what we get in return, while maximizing the benefits from both ends. We maximize our self-interests and pleasure by doing what we love and what we can be paid for, while the rest of the world gets something that it needs and is of quality (because we are good at doing what we do). Keeping this in mind, we shall start from the very beginning.

The authors introduce the word Ikigai as “the happiness of always being busy.” In reality, this book introduces us to the art of taking action in order to live a fruitful life. The first chapter is about how to live young while growing old and it outlines the mind-body connection for us. The secret to a healthy and long life is activity, activity that stretches our imagination. This generally consists of the usual advice we get: reduce stress, engage in physical activities, and cultivate mindfulness. Next, we look for how to do it. The answer seems simple: find your purpose. The book gives an example of logotherapy, wherein a person is led by a therapist to discover and accept their purpose at that particular point of time.

This is also described as “the search for meaning”. Human beings are meaning-hungry creatures. Whenever we are faced with an existential crisis, it is generally leading us to a different direction: when we need to re-think the meaning of the path we are taking. In one of the case studies, authors mention a grief-stricken doctor who was mourning his wife’s death. During the therapy he was led to think about what would have happened if he had died first. The answer was very clear to him: his wife would have been lonely and grief stricken. This new perspective allowed him to get out of depression, as he understood the purpose of all the events to be thus: he has spared his beloved wife the grief he was experiencing. Other forms of therapy that are inspired by Asian practices are also helpful in discovering one’s purpose. The steps mainly include: accepting one’s emotions and circumstances without fighting it/judging it, developing an action routine according to one’s own preferences, and finding what gives us pleasure. Using this information, we move towards the fundamental building block of Ikigai: the flow.

If you resonate with the voice of the author, you can read her book.
The book titled Inner Miracles records the author’s personal journey of self transformation. The book is designed to take us into a journey within ourselves: to understand in depth what really happens within our being while we go about our daily lives. It provides a very personalized map for self-growth and transformation. 

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