How beautiful is that? It’s the Venn diagram for the thoughtfully aimless, an earnest tribe in which I have long been a member. I pulled this book off the shelf with the same urgency I normally display a few shelves over, when shopping for the .2mm mechanical pencils I’ve become obsessed with (tiny, tiny lead, for when you want to make notes so small, you need the bottom half of your bifocals to read your own handwriting).
At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get into it. It’s labeled an “International Bestseller”, which immediately suggests that the whole world enjoyed this, so I better like it too, and I’m not really into peer pressure. And the first three big ideas the two authors talk about – logotherapy, Flow (popularized by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi), and Morita therapy, are all concepts I’m familiar with, the last two especially. Wasn’t this supposed to be some freshly-packaged Japanese wisdom? Why am I reading about things I read about 20 years ago?
But I’m becoming charmed by how small and sturdy the book is, and how it collects up a lot of different ideas into a whole that truly does feel applicable to daily life. I can see why it’s appreciated, you know, internationally. The concept of Ikigai is well expressed in this article, and this one too, if you want to get a taste of it to decide if you want to read the book. Don’t write it off as a self-help book. Those are usually devoted to one concept, often a very simple one that is then padded out to a few hundred pages in a formulaic and exhausting exercise designed to make you think you learned something (you probably didn’t). IKIGAI isn’t like that. This collection of wisdom, both modern and ancient, is a succinct reference book on living a long and happy life by finding your life’s purpose.
It’s a worthy addition to my shelf, which is saying something, as I’m still culling everything down for our move in a few months. Today’s read:
The importance of objectives and goals when getting down to a task. “…..it’s important to reflect on what we hope to achieve before starting to work, study, or make something.”