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10 Rules of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

Lifestyle 22 May 2024 90 0

Rules of Ikigai

10 Rules of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

In the serene villages of Okinawa, where the world's highest percentage of centenarians live, the secret to longevity is not hidden in elixirs or strict regimens but in a simple yet profound concept called Ikigai. Ikigai, often translated as "reason for being," is a Japanese philosophy that emphasizes finding joy in life's purpose. In this blog post, we will explore the 10 rules of Ikigai and how integrating these principles can lead to a long, happy, and fulfilling life.

Definition of Ikigai

Meaning and Origin

Ikigai is a compound of two Japanese words: "iki," meaning life, and "gai," meaning worth. Together, they signify a life worth living. The concept dates back to the Heian period (794 to 1185) and has deep roots in Japanese culture, influencing their approach to life, work, and relationships.

Cultural Significance in Japan

In Japan, Ikigai is seen as a central pillar of well-being. It is not just about grand achievements but about the small, everyday joys and purposes that give life meaning. From the craftsman perfecting his art to the grandmother nurturing her garden, Ikigai permeates every aspect of daily living.

The 10 Rules of Ikigai

1. Stay Active and Never Retire

Japanese secrets for a long and happy life include staying mentally and physically active. Retirement is not an end but a transition to new forms of engagement. Keep your mind and body engaged in activities that bring joy and fulfillment.

2. Take It Slow

Life is not a race. Embrace the art of taking it slow, savoring each moment, and reducing stress. This mindful approach can enhance mental health and overall well-being.

3. Don't Fill Your Stomach

The Okinawan practice of "Hara Hachi Bu," eating until you're 80% full, promotes longevity. This principle helps maintain a healthy weight and prevents overindulgence.

4. Surround Yourself with Good Friends

Human connections are vital. Friends provide emotional support, reduce stress, and contribute to a sense of belonging. Cultivate strong, positive relationships to enhance your happiness.

5. Get in Shape for Your Next Birthday

Physical health is crucial. Regular exercise, whether through walking, gardening, or tai chi, keeps the body healthy and the mind sharp. Aim to be in better shape with each passing year.

6. Smile

A simple smile can improve your mood, reduce stress, and foster positive interactions with others. It's a small act with significant benefits for both you and those around you.

7. Reconnect with Nature

Nature provides a sense of peace and renewal. Spend time outdoors, appreciate the beauty around you, and engage in activities like gardening or hiking to reconnect with the natural world.

8. Give Thanks

Gratitude is powerful. Regularly expressing thanks for the small and big things in life can boost your mood, improve relationships, and increase overall satisfaction.

9. Live in the Moment

Mindfulness and living in the present enhance life’s experiences. By focusing on the here and now, you can fully appreciate and engage with the world around you, reducing anxiety about the future and regrets about the past.

10. Follow Your Ikigai

Discover what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. This intersection is your Ikigai. Pursuing it brings fulfillment and purpose to life.

Scientific and Anecdotal Evidence

Studies have shown that having a sense of purpose can significantly impact longevity and mental health. Research on Blue Zones, areas with high longevity, indicates that Ikigai is a common factor among the longest-living people. Anecdotal evidence from Okinawan centenarians reveals that those who follow Ikigai principles live more fulfilled and happy lives.

Application of Ikigai Principles

Practical Steps to Find and Live Your Ikigai

  1. Self-Reflection: Regularly reflect on your passions, strengths, and values.
  2. Experiment: Try new activities and see what resonates with you.
  3. Seek Feedback: Ask friends and family for their perspectives on your talents and passions.
  4. Balance: Ensure your Ikigai includes elements that bring joy, meet needs, and offer a sense of achievement.

Tips for Integrating Ikigai into Daily Routines

  • Start your day with a purpose-driven task.
  • Make time for activities that you love.
  • Build relationships that support and inspire you.
  • Continuously learn and grow in your areas of interest.

Comparisons with Other Philosophies

Ikigai shares similarities with concepts like the Danish "hygge" (coziness and comfort) and the Indian "dharma" (duty and righteousness). However, Ikigai uniquely combines personal joy with social and professional contributions, offering a holistic approach to a meaningful life.


By embracing the 10 rules of Ikigai, you can unlock the Japanese secrets to happiness and longevity. Start small, integrate these principles into your daily life, and gradually discover your unique Ikigai. This journey towards a purpose-driven life will not only enhance your well-being but also inspire those around you. Live each day with intention, joy, and fulfillment, and experience the profound impact of Ikigai on your life.