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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

Want to have a happy life? Francesc Miralles, author of Ikigai tells you how

Spanish author Francesc Miralles discusses the book that’s flooding our social media feeds.

more-lifestyle Updated: Sep 15, 2019 17:05 IST

Hindustan Times, Delhi
Spanish author Francesc Miralles discusses the book that’s flooding our social media feeds.
Spanish author Francesc Miralles discusses the book that’s flooding our social media feeds.(Yan Pekar)

Happiness is a butterfly we all want to catch, but it seems to be fleeing everyone’s grasp. We all want to extend the fleeting sense of contentment we get sometimes in between the crises that hit us at quarter-life, mid-life and life in general. But how? Well, Ikigai,seems to have the answer. Ikigai is a Japanese concept which translates to “the reason to jump out of bed each morning”. The book offers tools to make life more fulfilling, long and happy, which the two authors, Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, learnt when they spent time with Japanese centenarians. So, the modern-day catchwords like ‘feeling spent’ ‘exhausted’ ‘burnt out’ can be moved away for ‘a life of purpose’ that Robert Byrne would have approved of. Excerpts from a conversation with Miralles:

The book is doing very well, and is filling our social media feed.

Yes, I am very happy because I am witnessing so many people being inspired by this concept. In India, there are a large number of people on social media platforms who are very enthusiastic about this concept and ready to put the concept into practice

It’s easy for Indians to grasp the essence of the book because it is in conformity with our spiritual DNA. Have you ever been to India?

Yes, I have been to India twice. India is the mother and the cradle of Eastern spirituality... Buddhism was born in India, then it travelled to China, Japan and then it got Zen...Yoga was born here, too, then it got evolved...

I travelled from Mumbai to South India many years ago. And undertook another trip in North India and Nepal. I am quite inspired by the cultures and traditions in India. I am a reader of the great Indian thinkers like (Jiddu) Krishnamurthi and I have a great interest in Indian spirituality. I came here to rethink my life.

So, it help discover the ‘more’ you were looking for?

Yes, absolutely. In India, people are communicative, kind, and welcoming. I witnessed different kinds of religion. I remember travelling by train, I observed various people especially the young generation. I had many conversations. So, I had a very intellectual experience. I learnt how the people were living and I found a way of living a very simple life like watching the sunset or being with yourself. It opened my mind I found a a way of living which was more simple that it was enough to be with friends, to watch the sun set, to be by yourself...

Have you found your Ikigai?

Yes, I am 51 years old and it means I have lived enough years to have two-three Ikigais

Can one have many Ikigais?

For some people, it may be just one thing; like a doctor has a passion and that could be their Ikigai for life. But it is quite normal that people have different passions in their life and they have three or four different Ikigais in different moments of life.

When I was 20-30 years old, my Ikigai was travelling and I wanted to discover new things; then my Ikigai was to teach German; then it changed and I entered in the world of books... Now, my Ikigai is to help people discover their talents. It gives me immense happiness to recognise and draw out their inner talent.

Is there a sure shot way to discover one’s Ikigai?

There are different ways to approach it. Some people know what they want to be precisely. Those who do not know, have different ways to search their Ikigai. One of them is to try everything and this is the method of science, the trial and error method, to get new inventions. You can establish different approaches. you try out different things and in the end you’ll find something that brings happiness and feels home, and be useful to the world in some way. Another way is to go back to childhood, because when we were children we were connected to our talents and passions. we can collect our passion. If an individual feels blocked then one must look at his or her childhood and what you wanted to be and you have lost it somehow.

Happiness seems to have become an industry. What is your definition of happiness?

Happiness means different things to every person. Like for somebody who is lonely, happiness is seeking a companion. In general, what brings us happiness is to feel useful to others. I have observed many people that when somebody is able to do something significant for others, they feel happy. Therefore, its important to do meaningful things in life, that makes you feel that your presence on the planet is worthy.

What are some of the books that you have read?

I read novels with an inspirational dimension. My favourite is The Magus by John Fowles. Also, Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha. And if you have to read only one book from the 20th century, it has to be Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.

And who is your favourite author?

Depends on the moment, my favourite author is Buddha I read a lot of what he said... and I am interested in beautiful writings of Thin Nhat Hanh when I was in my 20s I was always reading Jiddu Krishnamurti his way of discussing reality. If I want to have some quality company then Haruki Murakami I have had some great times with his stories. Carl Jung’s ideas I find very interesting .

Do self-help books help?

Yes, of course! But like in every field, you must know what to choose. For example, if you ask me, ‘Does music help?’ My answer will be, if it is good music, rich music, it’ll enrich your life. If you are listening to very aggressive music, it won’t do you any good. It’s the same with

self-help books, there are some very good books such as by Victor Frankl, Carl Jung, and there are ones that promise to make you a millionaire in 50 minutes, those are not good books.

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First Published: Sep 15, 2019 17:05 IST

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