Ikigai, the Japanese Secret

Japan has a secret for a long, happy and #healthy life! They call it Ikigai.

There is no direct English translation but according to the Japanese neuroscientist Ken Mogi, Ikigai can be explained as "our reason to live or what makes us wake up every single day." The Ikigai concept started in Okinawa, where there is a better life expectancy than the average Japanese one, which in turn is one of the best in the world.

Many believe that Ikigai is the secret of their longevity. According to Mogi, "it is very important to identify the things that one enjoys doing, because these things gives purpose to our life and lead to a happy and long one. Life isn't just about being alive for a long time, we have to enjoy it and know what to do with it."

How can we find our own #Ikigai?

Apparently, it isn't difficult "We are so obsessed with our success and huge life #goals that life ends up being intimidating! The great thing about Ikigai is that you can start with a small objective before you aim for the big ones", says Mogi.

Everyone should start with a goal that is within reach, feel good about reaching it and then try a bigger one. The first goal should be to find our Ikigai. Start from scratch: look yourself in the mirror, what type of person are you? Think about your past and what brought you pleasure. This would be a great hint. Mogi believes that the things which gives us pleasure reflect the type of person we are. There are many ways of getting pleasure, so it is important to have several Ikigais, both simple and #ambitious ones.

"Most religious believe in only one God. In Japan, we believe that there are 8 million Gods! And this influences the way that we Japanese think about our Ikigais. We don't believe there is just one important thing to aim for, there can be thousands of different things which gives us #pleasure. One example? My minor Ikigai is to run 5 miles each day. As a scientist my greatest joy is to have new ideas and maybe to give something important to the world. This is also my Ikigai."

Does Ikigai really work?

Mogi confirms that it does based on studies made by Toho University in Tokyo, which investigated the sense and meaning of life and their correlation with mortality rates of senior citizens. According to the research, there is a correlation between longevity and a reason to live, which makes the immune system to work better, and helps elderly people to stay healthy for longer.

In another study, American neuropsychologist Patricia Boyle from the Rush Center in Chicago, states that after studying for seven years 900 senior citizens who had a high risk of developing dementia, those with a good notion about their purpose of life had a 50% less chance of getting sick.

"The human brain has a remarkable ability to regulate body functions. In some cases, it can heal our body on its own as demonstrated by the placebo effect. If you manage to find your Ikigai, the small things that give meaning to life will help you preserve your health for longer", concludes Mogi.


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