Ikigai is a Japanese term which means the reason that is keeping you alive. Everyone has an Ikigai in their lives which is very personal to them, although some of them may not even know theirs yet. The concept of Ikigai is the amalgamation of- what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs and what can help you earn. This concept helps one find their passion, mission, profession and vocation. When you achieve equilibrium in all four, only then you will find your Ikigai.
Combining these Japanese principles with a healthy diet, meditation, and exercises-one can live a stress-free life. The average life expectancy of a Japenese is 100 years. They have aced the art of searching for beauty in flaws and believe in living a stress-free life; they try to focus on the present and enjoy every moment that their life offers.
After extensive research and taking inspiration from the book, Ikigai, we have found out the top ways in which you start your journey of living a happy, youthful life.
1. Friendly and courteous way of interaction
The Japanese are naturally polite and friendly. There are plenty of ways to be polite to each other, from table manners to simple things like greeting someone. They have an enormous amount of respect for their elders, and they bow down in front of them to show respect. They believe in staying quiet while travelling in public transportation and find it offensive to disturb others by making noise. It is courteous to give privacy to the people around them and show respect.
2. Healthy food customs
Japan believes in healthy eating habits. There are hardly any places that offer junk food, including vending machines. Their meals are highly nutritious and low on preservatives. Healthy food habits help them look younger and live longer, which is why the life expectancy rate in Japan is high compared to most countries.
3. Hardworking and punctual nature
The Japanese work towards their job diligently. The like to maintain punctuality in all aspects of life. It depicts their self-renewal and progressive personality. Even after being inflicted heavily after the second world war, their progress was remarkable.
There is a Japanese philosophy called Wabi-Sabi, which means admiring things that have imperfections. It teaches us that beauty lies in everything, even if it is full of flaws. One example of this is the art of Kintsugi, which means painting broken ceramics which artistically so that the cracks are highlighted and not hidden. The concept of Wabi-Sabi teaches us to cherish what we have instead of trying to be something we’re not.
5. Appreciate the simple things that nature has to offer
The Japanese admire even the simplest parts of nature. O Hanami, a Japanese concept, involves enjoying picnic sitting under a cherry blossom tree. Almost everyone in Japan makes sure they take a small break from their busy lives to go and enjoy the cherry blossom trees. This tree is of significant importance, as they have a very brief lifespan. It signifies and reminds us of the nature of life and death, teaching us to appreciate everything we have at the moment.
6. Sho Ga Nai
There is a very frequently used Japanese phrase Sho Ga Nai, which means let go of the things you cannot control. People unnecessarily worry about things and situations they cannot control. Take this phrase to your heart and let go of all the unnecessary doubts and fears.
7. Cleanliness and hygiene
The Japanese people are obsessed with cleanliness, and try to make their surroundings a pleasant place to live. Children are educated to maintain cleanliness and hygiene from a young age. Many schools even give the responsibility of cleaning the school to their students to teach them the value of cleanliness.
Japan is undoubtedly clean, and there are no dustbins or trash cans to be seen, except for recycling bins. Even if people have something they want to discard, they keep it with themselves until they find a trash can. They believe that cleanliness is related to morality and should not be associated with a menial job.
8. Making and respecting the most of what you have
Japanese culture tells us to make the most of what we have- from money to space, knowledge, and time. Japanese have perfected the art of making the most out of the least, especially in the efficient use of limited spaces. In Japan, one can find small houses in between the existing ones. Even though these are small in size, they have all the things that are necessary to live a comfortable, minimal life. They also make the most of their time by not only working on their jobs but also practising their hobbies.
The principle of Kaizen teaches us that even if we devote a small amount of time to something we want to learn, it will be worth several hours of practice for a week. Therefore, one should always make the most of everything in their lives, just like the Japanese.
The Japanese social system has etiquettes that are among some of the strictest ones in the world. Bowing, handshakes and seat arrangements present the idea of the Japanese etiquettes. For example, being Keigo. Keigo is a form of honorific language that is used frequently in a Japanese conversation. Various deviations of Keigo is applied while talking to different people depending on their age, gender or social status.
It has been of great value in forming the strict social order and etiquette in Japan. The Japanese etiquette and its system of the hierarchy have been a great addition to the social-ethical obligations, which created a society full of respect, pride, honour and discipline.
10. Following the rules
The Japanese follow all the rules and order, which is an integral part of their moral behaviour. Crowded places might not seem chaotic as people patiently line up and wait for their turns. This habit is taught to everyone from a very young age. Breaking traffic signals, pick-pocketing, theft, etc., is against their culture.
An integral part of the Japanese culture is expressing gratitude for everything around them. They believe in being thankful for even the smallest things in life which many of us tend to ignore such as nature, water, friends, food etc. Therefore, taking a few minutes every day to practice gratitude will radiate positivity in your life and increase the flow of happiness and satisfaction in your life.