10 Japanese secrets to a long and happy life

We all want to live a purposeful, happy life.

However, we often overcomplicate what that means. 

We look for happiness in luxury, in the abundance of money and worldly possessions, but oftentimes, happiness is found in the simplest of things.

It’s found in nature; in the laughter we share with friends; in the healthy meal our mothers prepare when we come home…and we fail to find happiness because we take them for granted.

And the book, “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles emphasizes this. 

The book discusses some simple things that the Japanese lifestyle has that can help us find the way to living a long and healthy life. 

And it’s not as complex as you think. 

So if you’re on the quest for a happier and more meaningful life, stick around as we dive into the heart of what makes the Japanese lifestyle a blueprint for happiness.

Let’s get into it!

1) Always stay active

Contrary to what many people believe, you don’t have to have intense workouts to live a long and healthy life

In fact, something as simple as taking a walk every morning can make a huge difference—and that’s something we can learn from the Okinawans.

They diligently walk, garden, and engage in regular low-intensity exercise every day, which contributes to their long and vibrant lives. 

The reason behind this is that staying active keeps your muscles strong and releases feel-good endorphins. 

This approach to taking it slow instead of diving straight into a high-intensity workout also cultivates a mindset of not rushing things, as we all have gotten used to.

2) Don’t rush yourself

In the rush of modern life, it’s easy to overlook the simple pleasures that can make life truly meaningful

The idea of “Ikigai” —a Japanese term for “a reason for living,” suggests that slowing down, finding enjoyment in everyday activities, and focusing on what truly matters can lead to a more fulfilling life. 

Embracing the present instead of being fixated on the past or worrying about the future,, as discussed in the book, lets you savor the moments that might otherwise pass you by.

3) Don’t eat what you don’t need

In the abundance of resources in modern life, we sometimes forget that we should set our own limits in order to stay healthy. 

On the other hand, the pressure to look a certain way and have a certain body type can often push us to eat less than we need—or not eat anything at all.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

The centenarians in Japan practice “hara hachi bu,” which means eating only until they’re 80% full. 

That way, eating becomes mindful. We don’t think about food as solely for enjoyment or as barriers that add on to the pressure of having a certain body type.

We’re reminded that we should treat it as something that nourishes our bodies and keeps us healthy, as it should. 

4) Be surrounded by good friends

The concept of “Moai,” or a close-knit social circle, is a crucial element of Japanese longevity. 

The book mentions how strong social connections, particularly with positive and supportive friends, can significantly impact your overall happiness and life satisfaction.

So if you’re surrounded by friends who are constantly critical rather than appreciative of you, it’s time to find ones who’d be supportive of you instead.

It would make your life so much more vibrant and meaningful.

5) Exercise

The Okinawans keep moving throughout their lives, whether through traditional activities like tai chi or simply walking. 

And “Ikigai” highlights that regular, moderate exercise is essential for a long and happy life

Again, it’s not about extreme workouts but about finding activities you enjoy and making them a consistent part of your routine.

This constant habit of exercising can help us find happiness, which makes it easier to smile more every day.

6) Smile

The simple act of smiling, as discussed in “Ikigai,” is a powerful way to boost your mood and connect with others. 

It’s a universal language that transcends barriers, spreading positivity wherever you go. 

So smile at your reflection in the mirror, laugh with friends, and smile at strangers. It won’t only boost your mood—it will brighten someone elses’s day, too.

7) Appreciate nature

The beauty of nature is something we often take for granted, but it’s something we all need to recognize to find our ikigai. 

“Ikigai” discusses how being in nature, whether through walks in the forest or tending to a garden, can be incredibly healing, providing moments of calm and reflection that contribute to a sense of purpose and happiness.

That’s why we shouldn’t take for granted the beauty of the world that we live in. Stop and smell the roses whenever you can—it can help you find the little joys you might have lost as you grew older over the years.

8) Practice gratitude

Gratitude is a common thread among those who live with a strong sense of ikigai. 

In life, we usually worry too much about the things we lack that we forget to look at the things we’re blessed by.

That’s why the book emphasizes the power of gratitude in shifting your focus from what’s lacking to what you have instead.

So each day, take a moment to acknowledge the positive aspects of your life, cultivating a mindset of contentment and appreciation.

9) Be present

“Ikigai” emphasizes the importance of being fully present in the moment, which can truly change your life.

Whether that’s through spending time with loved ones or engaging in simple activities, being mindful and embracing the present leads to a deeper appreciation for life and meaningful connections.

10) Follow your ikigai

We keep mentioning “ikigai” over and over again in this article, but what does it truly mean when we say “follow your ikigai?”

It means simply discovering your reason for being.

And that’s not something that has to be big and grandiose—your reason for being could be something as simple as coming home to your pet, a hug from grandma, or the warmth of having coffee on a chilly day.

Finding your ikigai gives your life purpose and direction, guiding you toward a more fulfilling and joyful existence. 

Remember: your ikigai is the key to a long and happy life.

Final thoughts

Always keep in mind that you don’t have to fixate on luxury or grandiosity to find happiness—you just have to appreciate the small things that make life beautiful. 

Remember that the pursuit of a long and happy life isn’t as impossible or complicated as it seems; it’s about embracing the simple yet profound practices that are within our reach every day. 

As “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” shows, purpose, gratitude, connection, and a mindful approach can truly transform your journey. 

So, keep moving, cherish the present, nurture meaningful relationships, and follow your unique ikigai. 

By adopting these 10 Japanese practices, you’re not just living; you’re also thriving.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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