9 ways to live happily and for long: Ikigai- The Japanese secret

What is Ikigai?

Ikigai is a Japanese word that roughly translates to something ( it may be a person, a thing, or a passion) that gives a purpose and meaning to your life. It is like a force in you that keeps you alive every second of the day and gives your life a purposeful reason to live. In other words, Ikigai makes you feel pleasure and fulfillment.

Definition of ikigai
Definition of Ikigai.

This Japanese concept became more popular after the book IKIGAI: The Japanese Secret To a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles was published worldwide. This book is more of a case study on the people of Ogimi, a small village in Okinawa, Japan. Ogimi is a village with the highest number of centenarians in the world.

A centenarian is a term coined for people who reach the age of 100 years or more. Japan has the highest number of centenarians in the world. In Japan, 6 out of every 10,000 is centenarian, which equals 0.06%, the highest in the world.

9 Rules of Ikigai

Here we will discuss the nine rules of Ikigai, followed by the natives of village Ogimi that can transform your life. No matter where you live or what lifestyle you follow, if you adopt any number of habits that we will discuss later in this article, you are set to find your Ikigai.

Don’t retire: stay active.

In Okinawa, people don’t retire. They do whatever they love to do until their health allows them. They stay active even after they retire. So in Japan, no one retires, regardless of their age. Retire word does not exist in Japan; they relate it to “leaving the workforce for good” as in English. People here believe that if they give up doing the things they love doing, they will lose the purpose of life.

Be mindful.

Being mindful is the most common habit that is adept in meditation. Okinawa’s residents live this philosophy. As an old saying goes, “If you want to reach somewhere in time, go fast but if you want to go far, then go slow. Mindfulness is a beautiful habit that anyone can adapt to, in order to be more joyful and happy.

In the modern world of technology, everyone wants to multi-task, which gives rise to stress and anxiety. But being mindful is the process of giving your undivided attention to only one task, and that gives you a sense of fulfillment.

The 80 % Rule.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is a famous proverb in western countries. Natives of Ogimi follow a proverb ” Filling belly to 80% keeps the doctor away.”

They live by this proverb and eat their food until they feel almost full. ‘Hara Hachi bu’ are the words they use when they are about to stop the food towards the completion of their meal. It means that they are almost full and do not need anything to eat.


Exercise is equally important for health as it is the main fuel of our body that keeps things going. When we sit for straight half an hour in one place, our metabolism dipped by 90 percent which can be very dangerous for our arteries and cardiovascular health.

If you have a desk job, and you sit for 7-8 hours a day at the office then the least you can do is stand up for 5 minutes every 30 minutes. It will keep you get going and keeps your metabolism in check.

Happy-go-lucky attitude towards life.

Attitude is something that matters the most. Living in the now and getting pleasure out of small things in life is the real way to live a happy life.

Pay attention to your inner conversation. If you’re confronted by negative thoughts, try turning the thought around and transforming it into a positive idea.


Okinawa’s distinctive diet and lifestyle have been credited with giving them the longest lives in the world.

A traditional Okinawa food plan is low in fat and calories, but high in carbs. It consists of main vegetables, soya, and small portions of rice, fish, and pork. They mostly live on a plant-based diet.

Be grateful.

This is the philosophy of the centenarian people: to be grateful for everything they have. Our attitude should also be the same toward life; to be grateful for every small thing we have in our life.

Do pray every day first thing in the morning, to thank mother nature and God. Being grateful is the way for monks to live life happily and care-free.

Wabi-sabi (Ikigai way)

Wabi-sabi is also a Japanese concept that elaborates on the always-changing and imperfect nature of the world. It emphasizes the fact that most beautiful things in the world are imperfect. Japanese people always give importance to small things in life like broken tea cups or ancestral jewelry.

It also means staying true to your nature.

Nurturing Friendships

The happiness we feel by being in proximity to other people can make a huge difference to our mental health. The study also revealed that positive, satisfying relationships have a greater impact on longevity than health or money. If you’re hoping to live long, make healthy relationships with the people you meet daily, friends and family members.


Find your Ikigai. Everyone’s Ikigai is different, but one thing is similar for all of us that we are striving for meaning in our life. When we find meaning in small work we feel joy. But when we can’t find meaning even in our happy moments then we feel despair.

So this is the key to a happy, purposeful, and long life.

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