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Designate one day of the week, perhaps a Saturday or Sunday, a day of technological “fasting”

IKIGAI | How to turn work and free time into spaces for growth!

The best is for the last! And this would be our last on Francesc Miralles’s!

Yes! And the best!

Francesc has an amazing narrative style that so endears itself to the reader! Any reader! His insights on any idea, are a huge source of fascination and awe!

And that we know! And that we know well-o-well, Ain’t we!? The proof of the pudding lies in the eating! And we did eat and relish much-o-much his love in lowercase! Ain’t we!?

Looking back, over the past couple of months, I guess I haven’t quite read a book as impactful and as motivational as this Francesc Miralles’s presentation, titled, IKIGAI, in a long long time!

This particular book titled, IKIGAI: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, in especial, has added charm! And that’s well because it’s by the famed ‘Francesc – Hector’ duo! And ooh boyyy! On ‘life motivation’, these guys have really got ya hooked full throttle onto their pages with that quaint ‘abracadabra’ touch and feel to each of their pages!

Full fuller fullest credits to Heather Cleary for giving us all such a realistic feel and aura off the original, in translating this amazing read into English!

This post hence would focus on five salients from the book, among the fifty plus mighty ideas spread across each of its pages!

Firstly, on the Francesc – Hector duo’s introduction to ‘What’s the meaning of my life?’ with relation to the much-renowned Japanese concept of ‘ikigai’.
Secondly, the duo’s discussion on the delightful dictum, ‘Going with the flow’ with a clear objective in mind.
Thirdly, the duo’s advocacy of concentrating on a single task at hand, one at a time!
Fourthly, their take on judicious and cautious use of technological gadgets!
Fifthly, and finally, their rich ideas for ‘creating a space and time free of distractions!’

Now let’s move on and focus intently, on all the five points, in their sweet order, that Francesc and Hector put forward for us all –


‘What is the meaning of my life? Is the point just to live longer, or should I seek a higher purpose? Why do some people know what they want and have a passion for life, while others languish in confusion?’

These are the dominant questions that bulk large almost through the entire gamut of this sweet-sweeter-sweetest soup for the soul!

The duo then proceed to take us to the mysterious word ‘Ikigai’!

This Japanese concept, which translates roughly as ‘the happiness of always being busy’, is like logotherapy, but it goes a step beyond, they say! Yes folks, Viktor Frankl has got some real delightful reams of paper white, dedicated for him on this delectable read!

And the duo also admit that, while researching on this amazing concept – Ikigai, they found out for certain that, not a single book in the fields of psychology or personal development has been done or dedicated to this concept thus far, to bringing this profound philosophy to the West!

Wake up little West! ;-)

Now how does Ikigai inspire people to stay active until the very end?

To find out the answers all by themselves, the duo decided to set out on a voyage of sorts, to go see and study for themselves, first hand, the secrets of the Japanese centenarians in person!

As soon as they set foot on Japanese soil, in this particular town, they say that they were able to sense and to feel for themselves, the unbelievable friendliness of its residents, who laughed and joked incessantly amid lush green hills fed by crystalline waters.

when we folks, back in Chennai tried our hands at Ikigai ;-)

‘An uncommon joy flows from its inhabitants and guides them through the long and pleasurable journey of their lives’, say they!

The purpose of this book is to bring the secrets of Japan’s Ikigai, to find your own Ikigai, add they!

And that’s because, those who discover their Ikigai have everything they need for a long and joyful journey through life, observe they!

I was quite interested in this particular chapter that talks about ‘How to turn work and free time into spaces for growth’! This chapter in special, gives us in a nutshell the secret to a purposeful life!


‘Going with the flow’ is the predominant metaphor that works its way all through the book. In fact, this phrase then would become its central premise too!

Just excerpts for y’all to grab the book at Amazon rightaway -

Imagine you are skiing down one of your favorite slopes. Powdery snow flies up on both sides of you like white sand. Conditions are perfect. You are entirely focused on skiing as well as you can. You know exactly how to move at each moment. There is no future, no past. There is only the present. 

You feel the snow, your skis, your body, and your consciousness united as a single entity. You are completely immersed in the experience, not thinking about or distracted by anything else. Your ego dissolves, and you become part of what you are doing. This is the kind of experience Bruce Lee described with his famous “Be water, my friend.” Go with the flow!!!

We’ve all felt our sense of time vanish when we lose ourselves in an activity we enjoy. We start cooking and before we know it, several hours have passed. We spend an afternoon with a book and forget about the world going by until we notice the sunset and realize we haven’t eaten dinner. We go surfing and don’t realize how many hours we have spent in the water until the next day, when our muscles ache. 

The opposite can also happen. When we have to complete a task we don’t want to do, every minute feels like a lifetime and we can’t stop looking at our watch. As the quip attributed to Einstein goes, “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That is relativity.”

What makes us enjoy doing something so much?

When we flow, we are focused on a concrete task without any distractions. Our mind is “in order.”

The ideal is to find a middle path, something aligned with our abilities but just a bit of a stretch, so we experience it as a challenge. This is what Ernest Hemingway meant when he said, “Sometimes I write better than I can.”

If you’re a graphic designer, learn a new software program for your next project. If you’re a programmer, use a new programming language. If you’re a dancer, try to incorporate into your next routine a movement that has seemed impossible for years. Add a little something extra, something that takes you out of your comfort zone.

Even doing something as simple as reading means following certain rules, having certain abilities and knowledge.

Having a clear objective is important in achieving flow!

When Olympic athletes compete for a gold medal, they can’t stop to think how pretty the medal is. They have to be present in the moment—they have to flow. If they lose focus for a second, thinking how proud they’ll be to show the medal to their parents, they’ll almost certainly commit an error at a critical moment and will not win the competition.

One common example of this is writer’s block. Imagine that a writer has to finish a novel in three months. The objective is clear; the problem is that the writer can’t stop obsessing over it. Every day she wakes up thinking, I have to write that novel, and every day she sets about reading the newspaper and cleaning the house. Every evening she feels frustrated and promises she’ll get to work the next day.

Days, weeks, and months pass, and the writer still hasn’t gotten anything down on the page, when all it would have taken was to sit down and get that first word out, then the second . . . to flow with the project, expressing her Ikigai.

As soon as you take these first small steps, your anxiety will disappear and you will achieve a pleasant flow in the activity you’re doing. Getting back to Albert Einstein, a happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell on the future.


Concentrate on a single task!

And on this count, those of y’all working on your MA project, your MPhil dissertation or your PhD theses work would find this part quite useful! Hail Francesc! Hail Hector! They’ve got a beautiful way to bail you out!

Over to the duo -

This is perhaps one of the greatest obstacles we face today, with so much technology and so many distractions. We’re listening to a video on YouTube while writing an e-mail, when suddenly a chat prompt pops up and we answer it. Then our smartphone vibrates in our pocket; just as soon as we respond to that message, we’re back at our computer, logging on to Facebook.

Pretty soon thirty minutes have passed, and we’ve forgotten what the email we were writing was supposed to be about.

We often think that combining tasks will save us time, but scientific evidence shows that it has the opposite effect. Even those who claim to be good at multitasking are not very productive. In fact, they are some of the least productive people.

Unfortunately, we’re not computers adept at parallel processing. We end up spending all our energy alternating between tasks, instead of focusing on doing one of them well.

Concentrating on one thing at a time may be the single most important factor in achieving flow.


According to Csikszentmihalyi, in order to focus on a task we need:
1. To be in a distraction-free environment
2. To have control over what we are doing at every moment

Technology is great, if we’re in control of it. It’s not so great if it takes control of us. For example, if you have to write a research paper, you might sit down at your computer and use Google to look up the information you need. However, if you’re not very disciplined, you might end up surfing the Web instead of writing that paper. In that case, Google and the Internet will have taken over, pulling you out of your state of flow.


So how on earth can I stay free of distractions? How on earth can I stay focused? How on earth can I avoid falling victim? The duo have some amazing answers for the likes of us right here - 

What can we do to avoid falling victim to this flow-impeding epidemic?

How can we train our brains to focus on a single task? 

Here are a few ideas for creating a space and time free of distractions, to increase our chances of reaching a state of flow and thereby getting in touch with our Ikigai:

Don’t look at any kind of screen for the first hour you’re awake and the last hour before you go to sleep.
Turn off your phone before you achieve flow.
There is nothing more important than the task you have chosen to do during this time. If this seems too extreme, enable the “do not disturb” function so only the people closest to you can contact you in case of emergency.
Designate one day of the week, perhaps a Saturday or Sunday, a day of technological “fasting,” making exceptions only for e-readers (without Wi-Fi) or MP3 players.
Go to a café that doesn’t have Wi-Fi.
Read and respond to e-mail only once or twice per day.
Define those times clearly and stick to them.

Work in a space where you will not be distracted. Focus on enjoying your daily rituals, using them as tools to enter a state of flow. Don’t worry about the outcome—it will come naturally. Happiness is in the doing, not in the result. As a rule of thumb, remind yourself: “Rituals over goals.”

The happiest people are not the ones who achieve the most. They are the ones who spend more time than others in a state of flow.

On this vein, noted critic Scupin Richard gives us an amazing comparison of sorts! Says he –

Imagine you have a beautiful carpet rug spread out neat, clean and tidy out there in your blessed reading room, your sanctum sanctorum of sorts, and all of a sudden you find someone throwing filth and dirt by the dozen onto your beautiful carpet rug?

How shocked you’d feel! How angry you’d feel? How bad you’d feel?

Then you proceed to patiently clean up the entire rug and make sure you wipe your rug clean yet again to its pristine splendour, don’t ya?

But what if, what if - yet again, you find someone throwing filth and garbage by the number onto your cleaned up and tidied up precious, beautiful carpet, on this precious personal space of yours, in your sitting/reading room?

How do you react? How do you respond? 

You either block the flow of the filth, or delete the rug from your room once and for all, ain’t you? ;-)

And that’s exactly what these host of social networking sites, under the able headship of Whatsapp ;-) ‘strive’ to do on our space! Our precious personal space! Our sanctum sanctorum of a space! Our chella pavapetta little space that we so preserve and reserve and cherish and relish all for ourselves, to be ourselves!

The way out, is to keep these ‘muck-o-mucky’ apps at bay for most of the time! You do it either by blocking the flow of the filth, or better, by deleting the rug once and for all! ;-) As much as possible! As often as possible! Never allow trash and clutter from some time-pass fellas gadgets and their truck fulla muck to spoil your beautiful rug! Your precious rug! After all, you’ve got just one rug! Ain’t ya?

One way you can secure back your precious little space and start celebrating it full throttle, rightaway!

Ikigai trueproves to a tee on this credo! And howww!

This post first appeared on My Academic Space, please read the originial post: here

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Designate one day of the week, perhaps a Saturday or Sunday, a day of technological “fasting”


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