Awakening Your Ikigai Book Summary - Awakening Your Ikigai Book explained in key points
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Awakening Your Ikigai summary

Ken Mogi

How the Japanese Wake Up to Joy and Purpose Every Day

4.5 (644 ratings)
15 mins

Brief summary

Awakening Your Ikigai by Ken Mogi is a guide to discovering and living out your ikigai, or reason for being. It explores the traditional Japanese concept and provides practical tips for finding meaning and fulfillment in life.

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    Awakening Your Ikigai
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    Ikigai illuminates every aspect of life

    Tokyo, 2014: Barack Obama shares an intimate dinner with the prime minister of Japan. Not at the Imperial Palace. Not at a grand restaurant. At a tiny, ten-seat sushi bar, called Sukiyabashi Jiro. Its owner is the sushi master Jiro Ono. Ono has ikigai. It’s because he has ikigai that he has welcomed guests like Obama and garnered three coveted Michelin stars. But Ono isn’t driven by accolades. Now approaching 100, Ono still works behind the restaurant counter – he’d work whether he won rave reviews and culinary awards or not. Why? Well, because he has ikigai.

    So what is ikigai? It’s a Japanese concept derived from the word iki, meaning “to live” and gai meaning “reason.” Your ikigai is your life’s purpose – the reason you get up in the morning. And it’s also the pleasure and meaning you find in the life you have.  Ikigai is versatile and applicable to both small daily activities and significant life goals. In fact, ikigai thrives in life's small moments – the morning air, a cup of coffee, a ray of sunshine, or the act of preparing a meal. Recognizing the richness of this spectrum is a crucial lesson of ikigai, particularly in a world where personal worth is often tied to conventional success.

    American writer Dan Buettner discussed ikigai in a TED talk on longevity. He highlighted “blue zones” worldwide where people live longer. Okinawan Japan topped the list. Okinawans attribute their longevity to simple pursuits aligned with their ikigai – a 102-year-old karate master finds ikigai in practicing martial arts, a centenarian fisherman in catching fish for his family, and a 102-year-old woman finds it in holding her great-great-great-granddaughter.

    When life is illuminated with ikigai, healthy and mindful habits come naturally. The Okinawans of the Blue Zone study ate well, cared for their physical and mental health, and worked to maintain community connections. In fact, studies, like the Ōsaki study from Tohoku University, have linked ikigai to various health benefits. This large-scale study involving over 50,000 subjects revealed that individuals with a sense of ikigai were more likely to have better physical and mental health – emphasizing the profound impact of this concept.

    Ikigai is an intrinsic motivator that goes beyond external recognition, offering a deeper connection to life's richness. In essence, ikigai encourages individuals to find fulfillment and meaning in the present moment, acknowledging that perfection isn't necessary, and the journey itself is where the true essence of life resides.

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    What is Awakening Your Ikigai about?

    Awakening Your Ikigai (2018) introduces the Japanese concept of ikigai or “life’s purpose,” and explains how uncovering and nurturing ikigai can catalyze a life filled with purpose and meaning.

    Who should read Awakening Your Ikigai?

    • Serial snooze-button users who want to wake up feeling inspired
    • Workers who feel they’re just going through the motions
    • Anyone interested in uncovering their higher calling

    About the Author

    Ken Mogi is a scientist and senior researcher at Sony Computer Science Laboratories, and the author of over 50 books on topics ranging from psychology to philosophy, linguistics to art, including The Way of Nagomi.

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