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Book review: “Ikigai”

Written by,

Gurman Kaur


Banter & Books Club,

An SMC Initiative.


I struggle with the idea of success. It may be because I am 18, young and stupid, but questions about work, passion, meaning, life, exist in a big, confusing mishmash in my head and routinely overwhelm me. Growing up, I have been drilled with the notion that success is a significant measure of my life. It demands me to bend over backwards as I try to grasp it, all the while in a constant state of anxious excitement. Or maybe it is just me who has built this mirage for myself. Amongst all this noise, there is a little voice in my head (far older and wiser than I am) that tells me that a life well lived is about balance, acceptance, calmness, and inner peace. This book reiterated that for me.

IKIGAI, authored by Albert Liebermann and Hector Garcia, claims to reveal the Japanese secret to a happy and long life. It is not just a collection of words stitched together to be read for the purposes of pleasure and entertainment. It pushes you into deep reflection about how you are living and what could be. Ikigai, is a way of living, and finding your own individual reasons to live for. As opposed to most self-help books, this book is not a series of thoughts strung together, but instead makes it argument listing multiple facts and data in each chapter. It talks about centenarians, the blue zones, logotherapy, the need to discard the idea of multitasking and a lot more. In the first few pages itself, it transports you to the villages of Okinawa and Ogimi in Japan. These communities boast of higher rates of longevity and its residents claim that they live a calm, serene life. In their culture, they deprive themselves of the word “retire” and instead focus on things that bring them joy and learn to protect their space.

It is not as heavy as it sounds. IKIGAI is a very light read that guides you through the life lessons in small anecdotes, factoids, and clear steps to take as you go forward. It is no big secret really! The book urges the reader to just learn to take life and oneself less seriously than one already does. Find your Ikigai- “your purpose to get out of bed.” It does not tell you how to find happiness or meaning instead it assures you that you already have it and encourages you to unveil it.

Possibly, the book may not instantly appeal to everyone, but it demystifies spirituality for the thinking man. However, if anyone wishes to make big changes in their lifestyle and are seeking a map, a new perspective on how to live life, then they should give IKIGAI a read!



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