My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I got this book from my girlfriend for Valentine’s Day and it looked quite good judging from the blurb. Ikigai is a very fast read, which is mostly due to how the book is printed, with a lot of white space. I didn’t mind that I was done fast with this book, but after reading an extensive work backed up by scientific research and then reading this, I felt left wanting.
“Only staying active will make you want to live a hundred years.”
— Japanese Proverb
The premise of this book is promising. Ikigai is the term the Japanese have for your reason to get up every day. Ikigai is a Japanese word whose meaning translates roughly to a reason for being, encompassing joy, a sense of purpose and meaning and a feeling of well-being. The word derives from iki, meaning life and kai, meaning the realisation of hopes and expectations.
The book covers several topics, starting with information about these so called blue zones, areas where people generally live longer than anywhere else on this planet. The book then tries to discover the secret behind these people and why they live longer lives. This is covered with several anecdotal interviews, but real evidence of why these people live longer is never given. It all remains quite vague. For instance some reason that they have lived such long lives because they never drank a single drop of alcohol, others that they have never eaten any meat, but then there was this French woman who had smoked her entire life, yet managed to get over a hundred years old. So, yes, there doesn’t seem to be any satisfactory answer.
The next sections of the book are about what you can do to prolong your lifespan. Reducing stress is one of these topics, and the book gives us several tips to reduce stress. All of them pretty straightforward and common sense material. Another section is about how sitting is the new smoking and how bad sitting is for us and what you can do to sit less, or move more. Again, all of the examples are nothing more than common sense. They all come down to getting off your arse and doing something active, like playing with your kids (cats in my case), taking a walk, etc.
The book goes on like this and don’t take me wrong, it’s not a bad read, but every subject is only covered on the surface, with little to no research to back up claims that are made in the book. For a non-fiction book that is not acceptable in my sceptical opinion. I really do like the Japanese philosophies in this book, and I did enjoy reading it, but most of what is said really boils down to common sense.
One thing I do believe is that it really does help to stay busy to prolong your life. Mental and physical health is very important to achieve this, so not retiring, but staying active and having friends and family around you really should help in the long run. I just wish I had gotten a little more out of this book than I have, so that’s why I am giving it a meagre three stars.
Cover art: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Paper smell: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟