Introducing Ikigai, The Japanese Key To Happiness

Ikigai could make you this happy, apparently (Pexels)

Danish ‘hygge’ with all its connotations of cosiness, will never get old. But rumour has it there’s a new buzzword in town, and its name is ‘ikigai’.

This one comes courtesy of the Japanese and its loose translation means ‘a sense of life worth living’, or a ‘reason for being’.

Prounounced aki-gay-aai, the concept is described as the secret to happiness. It is about living authentically and finding what brings you the greatest sense of purpose and fulfilment in life.

“Practitioners must fill in overlapping circles that cover motivation, fulfilment, what they earn and what improves their life,” it dictates, according to the Guardian. “The answer at the centre will be the key to a happy and long life.”

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In a bid to prove that ikigai really does lead to great things, the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Sendai, Japan, conducted a seven-year study of 43,000 people. It found that those who practised ikigai were more likely to be alive seven years later, while those who didn’t faced a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Japanese women have the highest life expectancy in the world at an impressive 87, so why not get filling in those ikigai circles and find your true calling?

A deluge of books about the concept have recently hit stores later, just in time for our New Year’s resolutions, including The Little Book of Ikigai by neuroscientist Ken Mogi and Ikigai: The Japanese Secret To a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia.

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If the idea of doing some deep soul-searching is a bit too much (which sometimes it is, let’s face it), then you might want to investigate the also-hot-right-now Swedish lifestyle theory of ‘lagom’, which means ‘living with just enough’. Look out for Lagom: The Secret of Living Well by Lola A Akerstrom and Live Lagom: Balancing Living, the Swedish Way by Anna Brones.

Easier said than done, we know. Shopping usually does the trick for us too…

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Originally published 10th July 2017