If you’ve journeyed through the pages of “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life,” you’ve explored a remarkable blend of philosophy, wisdom, and practical advice on living a purposeful, balanced life.
This inspirational book, penned by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles, helps readers comprehend the concept of ‘Ikigai’ – a Japanese word loosely translated to mean ‘reason for being.’ Ikigai is believed to be the intersection of what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. It’s about finding joy, fulfillment, and balance in the daily routine of life.
But the journey to understanding your own Ikigai, and striving towards it, doesn’t end here. There are many other books that can guide you along this path, delving into related themes of happiness, balance, purpose, and personal growth.
In this blog post, we will suggest a variety of books to broaden your perspective and deepen your understanding of these topics. These books, each with its unique insight and approach, can serve as excellent follow-up reads after “Ikigai.”
Ready to continue your journey to purpose and fulfillment? Let’s delve in!
Understanding Your Own Ikigai
The quest for purpose and meaning in life is a deeply personal journey. After Ikigai, you might be curious about further exploring your own unique ‘reason for being’. Here are two books that can help guide you on this path.
Finding Your Element by Ken Robinson
Sir Ken Robinson’s “Finding Your Element” is an insightful read about discovering your talents and passions. Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity and innovation, believes that everyone has the potential to find their own ‘element’ – the unique fusion of talent and passion that makes you truly happy and helps you excel.
In this book, Robinson provides practical and thought-provoking exercises to help you identify your own ‘element’. He emphasizes the importance of creating your own life path, rather than accepting societal norms or expectations.
Reading “Finding Your Element” can give you a fresh perspective on your own potential and how to pursue your passion. It’s a great guide on your journey to finding your personal Ikigai.
Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, Stanford professors and creators of the popular “Design Your Life” course, have taken a design-thinking approach to life and career fulfillment in their book “Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life”.
“Designing Your Life” encourages you to treat your life as a design problem, with multiple solutions and iterations. It offers practical exercises and tips for breaking free from what they call ‘dysfunctional beliefs’, which are limiting beliefs that can hold you back from achieving your full potential.
This book relates well to the concept of Ikigai as it focuses on designing a life that aligns with your values, passions, and strengths – the very elements of your personal Ikigai. It’s an empowering read that encourages you to take an active role in designing a joyful, fulfilling life.
Delving Deeper into Japanese Philosophy
Having ventured into the world of Japanese philosophy through Ikigai, you may find yourself eager to delve further into this fascinating worldview. Here are two books that provide deeper insights into Japanese philosophy, further enhancing your understanding of life’s purpose and contentment.
The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura
“The Book of Tea” by Kakuzo Okakura is an enlightening read about the Japanese tea ceremony and its deep connection to Japanese culture and philosophy. This book transcends the boundaries of a simple guide to tea preparation, offering readers a glimpse into the aesthetic and philosophical aspects of Japanese life.
Okakura explains the significance of the tea ceremony and its symbolic ties to Zen and Taoism, which hold lessons about mindfulness, respect, purity, and tranquility. By understanding the tea ceremony, you can further explore the Japanese concept of mindfulness and the appreciation of beauty in simplicity, which are key elements of the Ikigai philosophy.
The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
“The Courage to be Disliked” by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga is an engaging dialogue that introduces readers to the principles of Adlerian psychology. Though not strictly about Japanese philosophy, the book is popular in Japan and its themes align well with the philosophies presented in Ikigai.
In this book, Kishimi and Koga discuss the importance of self-acceptance, the pursuit of community feeling, and the courage to change aspects of your life. It challenges the reader to let go of past traumas and grievances and live fully in the present, contributing to society in a meaningful way.
These themes, deeply intertwined with the core elements of Ikigai, further illuminate the path towards a life of purpose and fulfillment. The book’s novel approach to common issues like self-esteem, happiness, and interpersonal relationships can be a profound next step after Ikigai.
Understanding Joy and Happiness
The quest for happiness is a fundamental human endeavor. The philosophy of Ikigai intertwines with the pursuit of joy and happiness in life. The following books delve into this topic, offering profound insights that can enrich your understanding of what it truly means to be happy.
The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt
In “The Happiness Hypothesis,” social psychologist Jonathan Haidt draws on philosophical wisdom and scientific research to answer the age-old question of what makes us happy. Haidt examines traditional wisdom and modern science to find a middle ground—a “happiness hypothesis.”
The book discusses ten Great Ideas, drawn from the world’s philosophical, religious, and psychological traditions, and connects these ideas to recent scientific research in psychology and neuroscience. These ideas range from the importance of adversity to the value of relationships and community, all of which resonate with the principles of Ikigai.
Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman
Martin Seligman, a leading authority in the field of Positive Psychology, presents his revolutionary theory of happiness in his book “Authentic Happiness.” According to Seligman, happiness can be cultivated by identifying and utilizing our individual strengths and virtues.
Seligman provides practical exercises and tests to help readers identify their unique set of strengths and virtues. He argues that true happiness comes from leading a life that fulfills us, that allows us to grow and flourish. This aligns with the principles of Ikigai, which promotes the pursuit of what brings you joy, what you are good at, and what adds value to the world.
“Authentic Happiness” can serve as an enriching guide to help you explore your personal strengths, cultivate joy, and build a life of genuine happiness, complimenting your journey with Ikigai.
Unleashing Creativity and Flow
The state of ‘flow’—where you are fully immersed and engaged in an activity—is closely linked to the concept of Ikigai, particularly in finding a passion that absorbs you. These next two books explore the realm of creativity and the concept of flow, giving you additional insights into finding and enhancing your personal Ikigai.
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” delves into the state of ‘flow’, where individuals feel totally engaged in an activity, whether it be a work task, a hobby, or a conversation. Csikszentmihalyi, a renowned psychologist, presents his theory that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow.
In this book, Csikszentmihalyi outlines his systematic approach to happiness based on his years of research. He presents the concept of flow as a means of enhancing the quality of life, ultimately leading to greater satisfaction. Reading this book will equip you with a better understanding of how to achieve this state of flow and how it relates to your Ikigai.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” is a heartfelt exploration of the mysterious process of creativity. The author of “Eat, Pray, Love” shares her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity, encouraging readers to live a life that is driven more by curiosity than fear.
Gilbert shares her own creative process and encourages readers to face what they most love and how to confront what they most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits needed to live life in a creative way. This pursuit of creativity, regardless of the outcome, ties back beautifully to the idea of pursuing what you love—an essential element of Ikigai. Reading “Big Magic” could provide the spark needed to unlock your creative potential and add another layer to your understanding of Ikigai.
Maintaining a Balanced Life
A key component of Ikigai involves finding balance in one’s life. A harmonious blend of personal interests, societal demands, and daily needs is essential in achieving a fulfilling and meaningful existence. These two books delve into the importance of maintaining a balanced life and offer practical strategies for achieving it.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
In “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” Greg McKeown presents a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential in life, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that truly matter.
McKeown’s philosophy aligns perfectly with the balance and simplicity aspects of Ikigai, as it teaches readers to focus on what truly matters to them and let go of the rest. The book is filled with practical lessons and exercises to help you put essentialism into practice in your own life, making it a perfect read for anyone seeking to simplify their life and focus on their personal Ikigai.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” is a spiritual guide to living in the present moment and freeing oneself from the burdens of the past and the anxieties about the future. Tolle, a renowned spiritual teacher, presents a clear and effective method for achieving a state of enlightened living.
Tolle’s teachings align with the Ikigai principle of living in the present moment and finding joy in everyday activities. “The Power of Now” offers practical advice for transforming your life by overcoming your thoughts and achieving a state of presence—a crucial step towards understanding and pursuing your Ikigai.
A Deeper Dive into the Science of Longevity
Ikigai, as a philosophy, has been associated with the long, fulfilling lives of the inhabitants of Okinawa, Japan. If you’re interested in understanding more about the science of longevity and how it intertwines with a life full of purpose, these next books will satisfy your curiosity.
The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner
In “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest,” Dan Buettner reveals the secrets of longevity and the habits that can help you live a longer, healthier life. Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow, identifies several “Blue Zones” worldwide—places where people live significantly longer and lead healthier lives than the average.
In each of these ‘Blue Zones’, Buettner found that people share common lifestyle characteristics that contribute to their longevity—the most pervasive being a strong sense of community, physical activity integrated into daily life, and a plant-based diet. These principles resonate with the elements of Ikigai, making “The Blue Zones” an interesting read to supplement your Ikigai journey.
Lifespan: Why We Age—and Why We Don’t Have To by David Sinclair
David Sinclair, a leading world authority on genetics and longevity, provides a revolutionary new theory of aging in “Lifespan: Why We Age—and Why We Don’t Have To”. In his book, Sinclair reveals that aging is a disease and that it is treatable.
Sinclair discusses recent advancements in the science of longevity and presents a practical blueprint for supporting this science and leading a long, healthy life. While this book does not directly discuss Ikigai, it offers a deep dive into the biological aspect of longevity—a key component of the Ikigai philosophy—that will surely intrigue anyone interested in leading a long and healthy life.
Additional Recommendations: Broadening Your Horizons
Beyond the curated selection above, there are countless other books that align beautifully with the themes and philosophies found in Ikigai. Here are five more compelling reads that could further enhance your understanding of life, happiness, and purpose.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
“The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz offers a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform your life to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. Its principles align well with Ikigai’s themes of personal integrity, self-awareness, and purposeful living.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
“The Alchemist” is a beautifully written tale about a shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from Spain to Egypt in search of treasure. Along the way, he learns insightful life lessons about fate, destiny, and personal legends—an adventurous exploration of finding one’s purpose, much like the journey of discovering one’s Ikigai.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
In “Quiet,” Susan Cain explores the world of introverts, highlighting their strengths and how they can thrive in a world that seems to favor extroversion. This book offers a fresh perspective on embracing one’s natural temperament—an essential step towards finding your true Ikigai.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
“When Breath Becomes Air” is a moving memoir by neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, who faced a terminal cancer diagnosis in his mid-thirties. Kalanithi’s profound reflections on life and death will give you a new perspective on the urgency of finding and pursuing your Ikigai.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson is a guide to living a better life by focusing on what truly matters. Manson’s raw and humorous take on self-improvement resonates with the core of Ikigai—finding and pursuing what’s truly significant in your life.
Conclusion: Continuing Your Ikigai Journey
Your exploration of Ikigai doesn’t have to end here. The philosophy of Ikigai is a lifelong journey of seeking purpose, joy, balance, and longevity. It’s about continuously discovering what truly matters to you and making it a central part of your life.
The books mentioned above are just starting points that can provide further insights and perspectives on the different facets of Ikigai. Each book, in its unique way, contributes to a deeper understanding of life’s purpose and how to lead a fulfilling life.
Keep exploring, keep questioning, and keep pursuing your Ikigai. The journey towards finding your reason for being is a rewarding and transformative experience that goes beyond the pages of a book.
Good luck on your journey.