Book: Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

Authors: Héctor García and Francesc Miralles 

Review by: Sucheta Rawal, author, travel writer and founder of Go Eat Give, a nonprofit

Sucheta Rawal holds a copy of her children’s book, Beato Goes to Japan.

This summer, I was reading my newly released children’s book – Beato Goes To Japan at an event in Huntsville, Ala., when an audience member came up and said, “You know you are following your ikigai!” That’s when I found out about Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.

Even though I have traveled to Japan a few times and have written about it, my Japanese language skills are not the most proficient. A young American girl who had lived in Japan explained to me that ikigai is the principal of finding and living one’s passion. When she heard my presentation of how I quit my corporate American job to create a business in travel writing and a nonprofit based on travel and community service, she immediately thought of this book.

So, I had to check it out for myself. Ikigai is written by two South American researchers/ authors who studied why people live long and happy lives in the so-called Blue Zones around the world where chronic diseases are less prevalent and people live longer. Their primary focus was Okinawa, an island in Japan, which despite being one of the worst hit places during World War II, has the highest concentration of centenarians in the world. 

The book is a short, easy read, but goes deep into the purpose of life and how to live your best self. I learned that you should eat only 80 percent of your capacity (meaning not over indulge), do light exercises like walking and yoga (rather than run to the gym), attend community events regularly (social clubs and Global Atlanta events are great for this), and most of all, never retire!

The key to having a long and happy life is doing something you are truly passionate about so that it never feels like work, and doing it until your last breath.