‘Millennials don’t want to be in a job that just gives them a salary, they are looking for more’Updated: Jan 23, 2020 20:41 IST
Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, written by Hector Gracias and Francesc Miralles, has fast become one of the most-read books with its simple philosophy that asks readers to find their centre of motivation. Ikigai is Japanese for finding one’s motivation. The book, originally published in Spanish in 2016, has been translated to 56 languages across the world.
India currently holds the record for the highest sales for the English editions, said Miralles who was in the city to speak at GurgaonMoms book club on Wednesday evening. The 51-year-old Spanish author is a philosophy journalist and has written several self-help and inspirational books. Sharanya Munsi later caught up with the author, who shared his journey of writing on Ikigai.
How did you come across the subject of Ikigai?
I have been interested in Japanese culture and philosophy for the past 10 years. On a trip to Kyoto, I was introduced to Hector by a friend. His father-in-law told us about Okinawa, where a lot of centenarians live. It is one of the five blue zones in the world where people live long lives. We wanted to find out their secret. It was then that we came across Ikigai.
Can you share your research approach?
We first read academic papers on Okinawa, their nutrition, social structure and habits. We then met the 100 oldest residents of Ogimi, a village in Okinawa. Of the 100, 18 were above 100 years of age. We initially spoke to a 85-year-old tennis teacher at the village, who told us that we should only speak to those above 90 years for our research. Some of the people we interviewed even did gymnastics.
What were the different Ikigais you came across?
The people of Ogimi are simple. They do not have ambitious ‘ikigais’. For them, it is something as simple as spending time in their garden and a spiritual act. Others said it was meeting friends and relatives, keeping active, receiving grandchildren and others. For city people, it was more related to things like career, learning a language and others.
The back cover of your book illustrates a diagram of intersecting circles to explain Ikigai. Can you elaborate on it?
The diagram is often used by corporates to help employees find their Ikigai. Companies know that millennials don’t want to be in a job that just gives them a salary. They are looking for more. The diagram consists of four circles — what you love, what you are good at, what you can get paid for and what your society needs. At their intersection is one’s Ikigai.
What is the next step after discovering one’s Ikigai?
Just finding your Ikigai is not enough. You need to map a path towards reaching it. There is no point in having an Ikigai unless you have a goal.
How can adopting a rural concept like Ikigai be beneficial for urban dwellers?
Ikigai is more important for city people, rural people don’t need it. In the city, it is easier to lose your purpose in life. Too many options are available and that can be paralysing. It is the same for retired people too. In city, people feel empty. However, if anyone does find their passion or interest, then the city provides them various options to develop it and take it further.
In the age of social media, internet users are constantly bombarded with information. How does your book figure in the consumption format?
The book may be found in the self-help section in a bookstore, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a self-help book because I don’t really share tips and tricks or a definitive path. The book is a compilation of our research and investigation that went into knowing about Ikigai that is practised in Okinawa of Japan. It also has essays.
What is your Ikigai?
My Ikigai is helping others discover their path.