The Little Book of Ikigai


no hurry, no pause.


Brief Summary

Iki (to live) and gai (reason). A democratic concept for all, steeped in a celebration of the diversity of life. Ikigai is possible without being successful in professional life but it’s true that having ikigai can result in success. The essence of ikigai: a sense of community, a balanced diet and an awareness of spirituality. The five pillars of Ikigai:

  1. Starting small
  2. Releasing yourself
  3. Harmony and sustainability
  4. The joy of little things
  5. Being in the here and now

Lessons from the Book

Author Mogi (2018) overly promoted Japanese culture and attempted to link the essentials of ikigai to Japanese life style. This is totally unnecessary but it could be a stylistic preference.

Retire all your goals instead focus on small things that you can relate to and work at them. Show up for and carry out your small commitments consistently. Success or failure not relevant but ultimate satisfaction is the process of performing those small rituals, be it by oneself or with others.

Do one thing or two but do them well through small increments over the course of life time, take for example, porcelain makers, anime artists or the owner of Bar Est! (in Yushima, Tokyo).

Lesson 1

To find your own Ikigai, ask:

Lesson 2

Make the process of making the effort your primary source of happiness, then you have succeeded in the most important challenge in your life.

So make music, even when nobody is listening, draw a picture, when nobody is watching, write a short story that no one will read. The inner satisfaction will be more than enough to make you carry on with your life.

Lesson 3

The flow state, when achieved, you don’t have to work to earn money for your living. You work because working itself gives you immense pleasure. Wages are a bonus.

Remember the salary-men who work countless hours and not necessarily with pleasure and some case they hate it. However they live for the hobbies with which they spent the evenings and weekends.

Lesson 4

Negation of the self, so becomes a release from the burdened of the self and becomes a fundamental aspect of flow.

Work is your master and being in the flow is your identity. This symbiotic relations is one aspect of ikigai. Life is about coherence. This helps to have a sense of direction.

Lesson 5

Work is your master and being in the flow is your identity. This symbiotic relations is one aspect of ikigai. Life is about coherence. This helps to have a sense of direction.

Lesson 6

Swamp analogy: Swamp might sound derogatory but a swamp is a rich ecological system where many microorganisms thrive. Life on earth probably originated from an environment similar to a swamp. One’s ikigai is actually like a swamp, if there’s enough diversity and depth to it.

In short, there’s a glory in the swamp. Ask yourself this: what are the small things in the swamp of your mind that will carry you through a difficult patch? These are perhaps the elements you want to focus on and keep very present in your mind.

Lesson 7

Focusing illusion: The idea that you can be focused on a particular aspect of life, so much so that you can believe that your whole happiness depends on it. In having a focusing illusion, you create your own reason for feeling unhappy.

If unhappiness is a vacuum in which the required element is absent, the vacuum is created by the biased imagination of the subject. There’s s no absolute formula for happiness - each unique condition of life can serve as the foundation for happiness in its own unique way.


Longevity ranking: Japan; Hon Kong, Iceland and Switzerland. Some interesting points:

Also see 2024-02-12-ikigai


Mogi, K. (2018). The Little Book of Ikigai: The secret Japanese way to live a happy and long life. Hodder.