top of page


"Ikigai is a motivating force; something or someone that gives a person a sense of purpose or a reason for living"

I recently escaped to Bali for a quick break before the holiday season kicked in. I believe that my clients deserve the very best of me right to the end of the year and after our last Redefining Ageing event, I was exhausted and had very little to give.

One of the things I love about flying is kicking back and bingeing on movies. As I was flying with Virgin, I was told that I could only watch movies on my phone. Not finding that appealing and that my books were in my luggage, I decided to buy a book, and this little blue book jumped out at me; Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.

It was such an easy read that I had completed it by the time we landed in Bali.

The book sought to explore what people in the blue zones had in common that caused their inhabitants to live long lives. Identified by Gianni Pes, Michel Poulain, and Dan Buettner, blue zones are regions in the world where people are said to live longer than average.

The top 5 blue zones are: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Icaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California.

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, focuses on a small fishing community of Okinawa in Japan.

The concept of Ikigai, and the search for a purpose worthy of one’s time, has been credited to provide the Japanese people with long life, the resistance to retire, and living a healthy, happy existence. In contrast to the western way of life where people work jobs they often don’t like in order to retire as early as possible.

As I savoured the book, I began to ponder how I could incorporate some of its principles into my life. By the end of the book, I'd made a commitment to practice the ten rules below over the holiday period.

The Ten Rules of Ikigai



1. Stay active; do not retire. Those who give up the things they love doing and do well lose their purpose in life. That is why it’s so important to keep doing things of value, making progress, bringing beauty or utility to others, helping out, and shaping the world around you, even after your “official” professional activity has ended.

2. Take it Slow. Being in a hurry is inversely proportional to the quality of life. As the old saying goes, 'Walk slowly and you’ll go far.' When we leave urgency behind, life and time take on new meaning.

3. Do not fill your stomach. Less is more important when it comes to eating for long life, too. According to the 80 percent rule, in order to stay healthier longer, we should eat a little less than our hunger demands instead of stuffing ourselves.

4. Surround yourself with good friends. Friends are the best medicine, there for confiding worries over a good chat, sharing stories that brighten your day, getting advice, having fun, dreaming….in other words, living.

5. Get in shape for your next birthday. Water moves; it is at its best when it flows fresh and doesn’t stagnate. The body you move through in life needs a bit of daily maintenance to keep it running for a long time. Plus, exercise releases hormones that make us feel happy.

6. Smile. A cheerful attitude is not only relaxing- it also helps make friends. It is good to recognize the things that aren’t so great, but we should never forget what a privilege it is to be in the here and now in a world so full of possibilities.

7. Reconnect with nature. Though most people live in cities these days, human beings are made to be part of the natural world. We should return to it often to recharge our batteries.

8. Give thanks. To your ancestors, to nature, which provides you with the air you breathe and the food you eat, to your friends and family, to everything that brightens your days and makes you feel lucky to be alive, spend a moment every day giving thanks, and you’ll watch your stockpile of happiness grow.

9. Live in the moment. Stop regretting the past and fearing the future. Today is all you have. Make the most of it. Make it worth remembering.

10. Follow your Ikigai. There is a passion inside you, a unique talent that gives meaning to your days and drives you to share the best version of yourself until the very end. If you don’t know what your Ikigai is yet, as Viktor Frankl says, your mission is to discover it.

Research states that those with a positive attitude to ageing tend to age better, and I believe that the rules of Ikigai are a great place to start.

1 Comment

Oct 04, 2023

Similar to a Danish concept called Virke, pronounced Veerka. A passion, a calling, a vocation, a mindset.

bottom of page