Notes on Ikigai

A dump of my notes on the book Ikigai by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles

Key takeaways:

Focus less on the perennial problems and more on the day to day:

  • Especially focus on flow in both vocational and avocational contexts.
  • Less multitasking. It interferes with flow.
  • Also focus on microflow. Create and enjoy rituals. Find small activities with intrinsic rewards and do them frequently.
  • Optimize for having less low-key continual stress, but more short bursts of intense stress doing things like exercise.
  • Don’t ask “what’s the purpose of my life?” Ask “what’s the purpose of my life right now?”

Be with people. Smile and be friendly and people will want to be with you.

Eat a large variety of food and only to 80% full. Caloric restriction can help.

Other notes:

Some of these notes are direct concepts from the book, some of them are just what I wrote down as I read.

Ikigai – The center of a Venn diagram between what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.

Forget the idea of retirement. It’s escape and if you’re escaping, maybe think about how to think differently about what you do or change what you do.

Active mind, youthful body. Stress shortens longevity. Frequent low doses of cortisol constantly flowing through the body cause adrenal fatigue and chronic fatigue. This opposed to our ancestors who had occasional high doses of cortisol and adrenalin in moments of actual danger which kept the body healthy.

Don’t sit all day. Find small reasons to remain active. Sleep 7-9 hours a day. Melatonin strengthens our immune system, protects against cancer promotes insulin production, slows Alzheimers, helps prevent osteoporosis and fights heart disease. Slows production after 30 years old. Balanced diet with calcium, moderate sun, sleep, avoiding stress, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine (which make it harder to sleep) can help.

Logotherapy – Viktor Frankl – “Well, in logotherapy the patient sits up straight and has to listen to things that are, on occasion, hard to hear.” (vs. in psychoanalysis: “the patient lies down on a couch and tells you things that are, on occasion, hard to say.”

The search for purpose / meaning as described by logotherapy in 5 steps:

  1. A person feels empty, frustrated, or anxious.
  2. The therapist shows him that what he is feeling is the desire to have a meaningful life.
  3. The patient discovers his life’s purpose ( at that particular point in time).
  4. Of his own free will, the patient decides to accept or reject that destiny.
  5. This new found passion for life helps him overcome obstacles and sorrows.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Victor Frankl

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

There’s a natural tension between what we’ve accomplished and what we’d like to achieve in the future. “What we need then is not a peaceful existence, but a challenge we can strive to meet by applying all the skills at our disposal.”

Existential crisis – trying to fill the gap between what’s expected of us and what we want for ourselves with economic power or physical pleasure, or by numbing the senses. 

Contrary to Sartre, we don’t create meaning for our lives, we discover it. This meaning can be transformed many times over the years.

Just as worry often brings about precisely the thing that was feared, excessive attention to a desire (or “hyper-intention”) can keep that desire from being fulfilled.

Seven conditions for achieving flow – Owen Schaffer

  1. Knowing what to do
  2. Knowing how to do it
  3. Knowing how well you’re doing it
  4. Knowing where to go (where navigation is involved)
  5. Perceiving significant challenges
  6. Perceiving significant skills
  7. Being free from distractions

According to Csikszentmihalyi to focus we need:

  1. to be in a distraction-free environment
  2. to have control over what we’re doing at every moment

Some studies indicate that working on several things at once lowers our productivity by 60% and our IQ by 10 points.

“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 eery line, shall be instinct with life.”

Hokusai – artist of One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji

One reply on “Notes on Ikigai”

Love the Hokusai quote – means I have 3 more years to waste :).
“Don’t ask “what’s the purpose of my life?” Ask “what’s the purpose of my life right now?”
This is about where I’m at now; sometimes hour-to-hour…

Leave a Reply