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TitleIkigai : the Japanese secret to a long and happy life
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Table of Contents
                            TITLE PAGE
PROLOGUE: Ikigai: A mysterious word
	What is your reason for being?
	Whatever you do, don’t retire!
	The island of (almost) eternal youth
	The five Blue Zones
	The 80 percent secret
	Moai: Connected for life
	Aging’s escape velocity
	Active mind, youthful body
	Stress: Accused of killing longevity
	How does stress work?
	Be mindful about reducing stress
	A little stress is good for you
	A lot of sitting will age you
	A model’s best-kept secret
	Antiaging attitudes
	An ode to longevity
	What is logotherapy?
	The search for meaning
	Fight for yourself
	Better living through logotherapy: A few key ideas
	Case study: Viktor Frankl
	Case study: The American diplomat
	Case study: The suicidal mother
	Case study: The grief-stricken doctor
	Morita therapy
	Naikan meditation
	And now, ikigai
	Going with the flow
	The power of flow
	Strategy 1: Choose a difficult task (but not too difficult!)
	Strategy 2: Have a clear, concrete objective
	Strategy 3: Concentrate on a single task
	Flow in Japan: Takumis, engineers, geniuses, and otakus
	The art of the takumi
	Steve Jobs in Japan
	Sophisticated simplicity
	The purity of Ghibli
	The recluses
	Microflow: Enjoying mundane tasks
	Instant vacations: Getting there through meditation
	Humans as ritualistic beings
	Using flow to find your ikigai
	Misao Okawa (117)
	María Capovilla (116)
	Jeanne Calment (122)
	Walter Breuning (114)
	Alexander Imich (111)
	Ikigai artists
	Arriving in Ogimi
	Communal life
	A birthday party
	Celebrate each day, together
	The gods of Okinawa
	The older, the stronger
	The interviews
	Okinawa’s miracle diet
	Hara hachi bu
	So, eat less to live longer?
	15 natural antioxidants found in the Okinawan diet
	Sanpin-cha: The reigning infusion in Okinawa
	The secrets of green tea
	The powerful shikuwasa
	Radio taiso
	How to do a Sun Salutation
	Tai chi
	Breathe better, live longer
	What is resilience?
	Emotional resilience through Buddhism and Stoicism
	What’s the worst thing that could happen?
	Meditating for healthier emotions
	The here and now, and the impermanence of things
	Wabi-sabi and ichi‑go ichi‑e
	Beyond resilience: Antifragility
EPILOGUE: Ikigai: The art of living
	The ten rules of ikigai
Document Text Contents
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jokingly said that she “competed with Methuselah,” and there is no question that
she broke numerous records as she went on celebrating birthdays.

She died of natural causes at the end of a happy life during which she denied
herself almost nothing. She rode a bicycle until she turned 100. She lived on her
own until 110, when she agreed to move into a nursing home after accidentally
starting a small fire in her apartment. She stopped smoking at 120, when her
cataracts started making it hard for her to bring a cigarette to her lips.

One of her secrets may have been her sense of humor. As she said on her
120th birthday, “I see badly, I hear badly, and I feel bad, but everything’s fine.”3

Walter Breuning (114)
“If you keep your mind and body busy, you’ll be around a long

Born in Minnesota in 1896, Walter Breuning was able to see three centuries in his
lifetime. He died in Montana in 2011, from natural causes; he’d had two wives
and a fifty-year career on the railroad. At eighty-three he retired to an assisted
living center in Montana, where he remained until his death. He is the second-
oldest man (of verified age) ever born in the United States.

He gave many interviews in his final years, insisting that his longevity
stemmed from, among other things, his habit of eating only two meals per day
and working for as many years as he could. “Your mind and your body. You keep
both busy,” he said on his 112th birthday, “you’ll be here a long time.” Back then,
he was still exercising every day.

Among Breuning’s other secrets: He had a habit of helping others, and he
wasn’t afraid of dying. As he declared in a 2010 interview with the Associated
Press, “We’re all going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid
to die. Because you’re born to die.”4

Before passing away in 2011, he is said to have told a pastor that he’d made a
deal with God: If he wasn’t going to get better, it was time to go.

Alexander Imich (111)
“I just haven’t died yet.”

Born in Poland in 1903, Alexander Imich was a chemist and parapsychologist
residing in the United States who, after the death of his predecessor in 2014,

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residing in the United States who, after the death of his predecessor in 2014,
became the oldest man of authenticated age in the world. Imich himself died
shortly thereafter, in June of that year, leaving behind a long life rich with

Imich attributed his longevity to, among other things, never drinking alcohol.
“It’s not as though I’d won the Nobel Prize,” he said upon being declared the
world’s oldest man. “I never thought I’d get to be so old.” When asked about his
secret to living so long, his answer was “I don’t know. I just haven’t died yet.”5

Ikigai artists
The secret to long life, however, is not held by supercentenarians alone. There are
many people of advanced age who, though they haven’t made it into Guinness
World Records, offer us inspiration and ideas for bringing energy and meaning to
our lives.

Artists, for example, who carry the torch of their ikigai instead of retiring,
have this power.

Art, in all its forms, is an ikigai that can bring happiness and purpose to our
days. Enjoying or creating beauty is free, and something all human beings have
access to.

Hokusai, the Japanese artist who made woodblock prints in the ukiyo-e style
and lived for 88 years, from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century,
added this postscript to the first edition of his One Hundred Views of Mount

All that I have produced before the age of 70 is not worth being counted. It is at the age of 73 that I
have somewhat begun to understand the structure of true nature, of animals and grasses, and trees and
birds, and fishes and insects; consequently at 80 years of age I shall have made still more progress; at
90 I hope to have penetrated into the mystery of things; at 100 years of age I should have reached
decidedly a marvelous degree, and when I shall be 110, all that I do, every point and every line, shall be
instinct with life.

In the pages that follow, we’ve collected some of the most inspirational words
from artists interviewed by Camille Sweeney for the New York Times.7 Of those
still living, none have retired, and all still enjoy their passion, which they plan to
pursue until their final breath, demonstrating that when you have a clear purpose,
no one can stop you.

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* English translation by Steven Tolliver.

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* Tao Yin: general term referring to the ancient arts meant to foster mental and physical well-being.,+Hong.

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