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Ikigai

  • What is your reason for being? According to the Japanese, everyone has an ikigai. Some people have found their ikigai, while others are still looking, though they carry it within them. Our ikigai is hidden deep inside each of us, and finding it requires a patient search. According to those born on Okinawa, the island with the most centenarians in the world, our ikigai is the reason we get up in the morning. Having a clearly defined ikigai brings satisfaction, happiness, and meaning to our lives.



  • Find the flow in everything you do We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. Imagine you are skiing down one of your favourite slopes. Powdery snow flies up on both sides of you like white sand. Conditions are perfect. You are entirely focused on skiing as well as you can. You know exactly how to move at each moment. There is no future, no past. There is only the present. You feel the snow, your skis, your body, and your consciousness united as a single entity. You are completely immersed in the experience, not thinking about or distracted by anything else. Your ego dissolves, and you become part of what you are doing. What makes us enjoy doing something so much that we forget about whatever worries we might have while we do it? When are we happiest? These questions can help us discover our ikigai. In order to achieve this optimal experience, we have to focus on increasing the time we spend on activities that bring us to this state of flow, rather than allowing ourselves to get caught up in activities that offer immediate pleasure—like eating too much, abusing drugs or alcohol, or stuffing ourselves with chocolate in front of the TV. As Csikszentmihalyi asserts in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, flow is “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” According to researcher Owen Schaffer of DePaul University, the requirements for achieving flow are:


  1. Knowing what to do.

  2. Knowing how to do it.

  3. Knowing how well you are doing.

  4. Knowing where to go (where navigation is involved).

  5. Perceiving significant challenges.

  6. Perceiving significant skills.

  7. Being free from distractions.


  • Active mind, youthful body Having a youthful mind also drives you towards a healthy lifestyle that will slow the aging process. Just as a lack of physical exercise has negative effects on our bodies and mood, a lack of mental exercise is bad for us because it causes our neurons and neural connections to deteriorate—and, as a result, reduces our ability to react to our surroundings. This is why it’s so important to give your brain a workout. There is a tension between what is good for someone and what they want to do. This is because people, especially older people, like to do things as they’ve always done them. The problem is that when the brain develops ingrained habits, it doesn’t need to think anymore. Things get done quickly and efficiently on automatic pilot, often in a very advantageous way. This creates a tendency to stick to routines, and the only way of breaking these is to confront the brain with new information. Presented with new information, the brain creates new connections and is revitalized. This is why it is so important to expose yourself to change, even if stepping outside your comfort zone means feeling a bit of anxiety. This description of a “mental workout” might sound a bit formal, but simply interacting with others—playing a game, for example—offers new stimuli and helps prevent the depression that can come with solitude. Our neurons start to age while we are still in our twenties. This process is slowed, however, by intellectual activity, curiosity, and a desire to learn.


  • Stress These days, people live at a frantic pace and in a nearly constant state of competition. At this fever pitch, stress is a natural response to the information being received by the body as potentially dangerous or problematic. Whether or not the threats we perceive are real, stress is an easily identifiable condition that not only causes anxiety but is also highly psychosomatic, affecting everything from our digestive system to our skin. This is why prevention is so important in avoiding the toll that stress takes on us—and why many experts recommend practicing mindfulness. The central premise of this stress-reduction method is focusing on the self: noticing our responses, even if they are conditioned by habit, in order to be fully conscious of them. In this way, we connect with the here and now and limit thoughts that tend to spiral out of control.

Conclusion: This book is mainly about purpose of life. We always hear people say who are fed up of life that they don't want to live so much, they say this because they don't have a purpose to fulfil . The authors have studied the life of centenarians to know what makes them live longer than others. It's not just good health which helps them live longer but the willingness to live.


 

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