BOOK REVIEW: IKIGAI BY HECTOR GARCIA AND CO-AUTHOR FRANSESC MIRALLES

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    Ikigai is a Japanese word. The meaning of which translates roughly to a reason for being in this world, it encompasses a sense of joy, a sense of purpose and meaning in life, and an overall feeling of well-being. The word derives from iki, meaning life and kai, meaning the realisation of hopes and expectations in Japanese.

    Japanese ikigai is the thing that makes you get out of bed happy every morning. A few years ago, everyone was talking about hygge, a Danish concept that cannot be translated to one single word but encompasses a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life. For example on a snowy day, you’ve might have experienced hygge without even knowing about it. In the same vein, another untranslatable word—ikigai—has captured the imagination of those searching for the key to living a long and happy life. Hector Garcia, a software engineer who was born in Spain but has lived in Japan for over a decade, and his co-author Fransesc Miralles delved deep into the secrets of Japan’s super-centenarians to distil the essence of this Japanese philosophy to produce a bestselling book titled ‘Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life’.

    Ikigai is a Japanese word, that’s almost, impossible to translate—that’s why we had to write a book about it, say the authors. You can think of it, as the thing that makes you, get out of bed happy every morning. The literal meaning of it is the purpose of your life, but it’s a lot more than that. For me, one of my most significant Ikigai is, writing the best I can, in order to make, other people’s lives better, says the author. The book is all about connecting with everything—what you love, what you’re good at, what you can be paid for and what the world needs.

    Ogimi is a village in Okinawa, Japan, where people live the longest in the world. The authors learn from their interviews with hundreds of elders there that they always keep themselves busy, but in a good manner. Elders shouldn’t have a dream that they’ll retire and then do nothing in life they say. In big cities, people are too busy racing through life. Their lifestyle is either doing a lot or doing nothing. That’s an extreme, and they need to find a middle ground.

    The book has some interesting tips on food and diet. These days there are thousands of diet charts out there, and each one tells you to do something different. It becomes very aimless and stressful to follow them. The idea here is you eat whatever you want, but you stop when you’re 80% full. That could mean not having that ice cream or a sweet to round off your meal.

    Start of the day is very important. So, ask yourself, what are the important things you want to do when you wake up in the morning? If that’s difficult for you to answer, you can spend some minutes every morning writing down what you’re looking forward to, in your day. After some days of doing this, you will start noticing a pattern. For example, you might realise that you enjoy your job, but don’t like your boss. So, you can try to find a job in the same industry. An interesting statistic that the author finds is that 90% of people in their 40s and 50s, have changed careers—and only 10% study something and then work on it forever. Connecting with your Ikigai isn’t going to be sudden, the key is discovering yourself and the things you like and dislike.

    But what does one do in cases where their Ikigai is financially unviable? It’s the most difficult question, and the one the author is still trying to find an answer to. With the internet, one can try various things while doing a job. Maybe, you can start pursuing whatever interests, one has, and slowly try to get paid for it. Interesting things start happening when one starts pursuing what one loves. It’s worse to not even try.

     There is a great amount of sense in being with a community for living a long and happy life. Ogimi is a small village full of people with similar life philosophies. But this indeed is a rare case as most of us live in unequal societies rife with disagreement.

    In Ogimi people are neither poor nor rich so it’s easy to make communities where everyone puts the same amount of money together for common goals. But this doesn’t work so smoothly in different environments. However, one can start developing these communities with the people they trust. Where, one will gradually feel supported, and the community will only grow.

    The book also talks about anti-fragility as a concept. It’s like bacteria—the more they get attacked, the stronger they become. In everyone’s lives, disaster and bad things happen. A family member may die, or you could get an illness. It’s important to remember that you get stronger by each damage done to you.

    The response to this book has been overwhelming. It is being translated into more than 54 languages around the world. In fact it has become the most translated Spanish book in history. Soon, it will be translated into Telugu, Hindi and Marathi. In case you have not found your Ikigai in life this indeed is the book. I won’t hesitate in giving it a rating of eight out of ten.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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