Why do you get up in the morning? Does an answer come into your mind straight away? It does for the people in Okinawa, and it thought to be one of the key factors in their longevity – estimated to lengthen the lives of the people by 7 years!  Ikigai is kind of like the French raison d’etre – ‘a reason for being’. It could be a creative passion, your relationships, your job…  Everyone has a ikigai, even if you don’t know it yet.

In Okinawa they do that thing they love until they die. Why do we focus so much on retirement? If we were doing jobs that we enjoyed, if we were living our life for a purpose other than money, one would think that we would never want to finish. According to the TED Talks that inspired this entry, the most dangerous years of your life are the year you are born (because of infant mortality) and the year you retire. People die after all those years of working something they hate, because after all that they don’t know what they love! That’s how important a sense of purpose is…

Does anyone else think it’s strange that there is no simple English word for ikigai? Do you think this is intentional… assisting the transition from people into “human capital”/money-making machines?

Another couple of good tips for a long life as enjoyed by the people of Okinawa included:

hara hachi bu – eating until your stomach is 80% full

– eating lots of plant products

– your choice in friends (friends who lead healthier lifestyles will see you lead a healthier lifestyle)

– NO exercise – well at least no gyms (walking and activities for enjoyment are much better than segmenting and separating the different needs of our body)

I recommend checking out the full TED Talks with Dan Buettner “How to live to be 100+” – he also goes to Sardinia http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_buettner_how_to_live_to_be_100.html and this article too http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-good-life/200809/ikigai-and-mortality

Personal side note – I’ve come down with a head cold so if this things I write don’t flow very well that is why. Maybe expect a couple more short entries like this while I can’t think straight enough to finish up that October Peace & Conflict Studies blog series, or to start the philosophy series I promised. I’m good at starting things and not finishing them (I think I started a “Big History” series quite a while back too). Anyway, I guess mixing it up keeps things interesting.

Hearing about Okinawa got me reminiscing so I thought I’d post a few photos of foods from Japan. Seeing as some of the other photos had me falling off my chair I might have to put them up soon too. Unfortunately I wasn’t into photography back then – so they are just point & shoot or keitei (mobile phone) shots. Man this feels like a life time ago…