The Japanese follow the Ikigai method, an ancient philosophy that for many is the secret to Japanese happiness and longevity.
If there’s one thing that we can envy about the Japanese, it’s their slender figures and long life expectancy. It seems that in Japan, they have different customs and habits that help them live longer and with robust health, all while experiencing high levels of happiness and life satisfaction.
In this article w have explored how the Japanese have a unique way of perceiving their surroundings, which directly affects their eating habits and behavior. Additionally, they follow a series of methods to achieve greater happiness.
One of these is the “ikigai” method, an ancient Japanese philosophy that many believe is the secret to their longevity and happiness. Let’s explore this philosophy in more detail below.
The ikigai method, the Japanese secret to happy life
Ikigai is a Japanese term that translates to “your reason for being” and refers to the purpose or passion that brings joy and motivation to a person’s life. To find your ikigai, you need to identify a task or job that you enjoy doing, that contributes positively to society, and that boosts your self-esteem. By having a clear purpose in life, you can avoid the feeling of tediousness that comes with working only to pay the bills.
To summarize, the key to finding your ikigai is to choose a job that satisfies the following criteria:
- You enjoy doing it.
- It contributes positively to society.
- It boosts your self-esteem.
To find your ikigai you can also answer these four questions , detailed by Francesc Miralles, co-author of the book Ikigai: Japan’s secrets for a long and happy life :
- What are your strengths? This refers to the things you naturally excel at, whether it’s public speaking, teaching, caregiving, working with numbers, or something else. You find these activities easy to do, and they give you pleasure.
- What activities do you enjoy? Similar to the previous question, if you enjoy something, it won’t feel like a chore.
- What comes naturally to you? What are you good at without much effort?
- What did you enjoy doing as a child? If nothing comes to mind, think back to your school days or past experiences in your free time before the responsibilities of adulthood took over.
Why is it important to know your ikigai?
In addition to living a longer and happier life, knowing your ikigai can help you:
- Design your ideal work lifestyle.
- Build strong social connections at work.
- Create a healthy balance between work and personal life.
- Pursue your professional dreams.
- Enjoy your job.
Once you discover your ikigai and comprehend its significance, you become aligned with the type of work you desire to do, as well as the work that the world requires you to do.
When you have discovered your ikigai
Once you reflected on the previous questions and discovered your ikigai, you must move on to the second part of the plan. You can follow the following steps:
- To pursue our ikigai, we should begin by setting small goals. For instance, if we aspire to be a teacher, we should identify the steps required to achieve this goal, such as enrolling in courses or obtaining relevant certifications, and set deadlines for ourselves.
- Next, we need to plan out how we will accomplish our goals on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.
- To stay motivated, we should create a reinforcement system, which can include networking with people who can support and guide us on our journey.
- Finally, armed with confidence and determination, we must stay committed to our goals and never give up on the path to realizing our ikigai.
Other Japanese tricks and methods to lead a fuller life
Next, we will discuss additional techniques and traditions that the Japanese employ to promote happiness and maintain an ideal weight.
1.They follow the Hara Hachi Bu method
The Japanese practice a method called Hara Hachi Bu to regulate their eating habits, and it appears to be effective, given that Japan has one of the lowest rates of heart disease, cancer, and stroke, as well as a high life expectancy (with an average of 84 years, three years older than the OECD average).
What does this method entail? Simply put, it involves stopping eating when we feel approximately 80% full. The goal is to feel satisfied with the amount of food ingested, without overeating to the point of feeling stuffed. This is in contrast to Western cultures, where the custom of finishing everything on one’s plate and overeating is more common.
2. The Japanese take hot baths
In Japan, it is common for women to take a ‘half bath’, which is when they fill the bathtub to just below chest level and soak for about 20 minutes in water between 38 and 42 degrees . This activity can help your body burn as many calories as walking for half an hour , lower blood sugar levels, decrease inflammation, and help us get better quality sleep, leading to greater weight loss.
3. They exercise moderately
Another approach is to avoid over-exerting oneself during exercise. Unlike Europeans or Americans, the Japanese prefer to engage in moderate physical activity that does not strain their bodies. Activities such as walking, stretching, and practicing yoga can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Additionally, these exercises can encourage the body to burn stored fat for energy instead of the most recent meal.
4. A diet based on yin and yang
Japanese philosopher George Ohsawa developed a very popular macrobiotic diet in Japan, based on a holistic approach to health that incorporates many aspects of lifestyle: diet, exercise, meditation, and ‘yin and yang’ energy. The philosopher suggested that health was directly linked and guided by nature. Therefore, eating and living in harmony with nature would create harmony and balance within our body .
This Japanese diet for weight loss and fitness focuses on choosing organic, locally grown, and season produce . The macrobiotic diet suggests that food should be roughly divided as follows:
- 40-60% whole grains, such as brown rice, oats, barley, buckwheat, or quinoa.
- 20-30% fruits and vegetables.
- 10% – 25% beans and derived products.
5. Maintain good posture
The weight loss method of Japanese doctor Toshiki Fukutsudzi has gained global recognition due to its effectiveness in raising awareness about the negative impact of poor posture. Initially, this technique was intended for those with back pain, but it was later discovered that it also helps with weight loss by strengthening the abdominal muscles, as excess fat around the abdomen is thought to be caused by improper pelvic alignment.
The technique can be completed in just five minutes and requires only a towel. You can watch about the method here:
So why not to try these methods taking example from Japanese people and improve your life?