Exclusive: Francesc Miralles talks to us about Ikigai, self-help reads and more
When Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Healthy Life hit the bookshelves in 2016, it inspired millions of people across the globe to try and find their own Ikigai. Authored by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles the book found an astounding reception and completely re-defined modern self-help genre.
The book talks about people residing in the Japanese island of Okinawa who are also the world’s longest-living people and focuses on finding the key to a longer and more fulfilled life. And this January, Garcia and Miralles released The Book of Ichigo-Ichie: The Art of Living of Making the Most of Every Moment, the Japanese Way which talks about a tenet of Zen Buddhism which can help us free ourselves from the past and the future so we can make each moment unique.
Incidentally Miralles is in town for the 11th edition of the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival and will be part of the closing day event tomorrow where he will be speaking alongside some other celebrated names. We caught up with the international best-selling author about his work:
Your inspirational/self-help non-fiction (Ikigai and Ichigo Ichie especially) have done astoundingly well in India. Have readers from the country reached out to you?
Yes, everyday we receive dozens of nice messages and posts through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other media. Many readers tell us that our books are changing and inspiring their lives. We feel very honored and thankful to have such a great reception in India.
Tell us a little about how Ikigai was conceived
Everything started with a field camp, as anthropologists, in Ogimi, Okinawa, the village with the Guiness World Record of longevity. Héctor García is married to an Okinawan woman, and he has mastered the local dialect, so we could interview all the centennials to know their secrets for a long living.
Can you tell us a little about your research? What does your reading list look like?
Before doing the interviews directly in the village, we read a lot of books and scientific articles about many aspects that have to do with a long life in Okinawa: diet, exercise, stress, social life, to have a passion… In our study it turned out to be a key point for such a long and happy life: if you have a reason to live, you can resist any adversities, as Nietzsche pointed.
Have self-help books helped you at some point?
They have helped us a lot. We read a lot of essays and inspirational books. A single line that touches you deeply can be a starting point for a personal transformation.
Have you found your Ikigai?
Nowadays my Ikigai is helping other people to discover their talent and purpose in life. I cannot imagine a mission that is more meaningful for me than that.
Who are some of the authors who have inspired you?
It has changed through the different stages of my life. When I was 27 I started reading the talks of Krishnamurti, and it was a big influence for me. Before I had been studying the words of Buddha, Lao Tse and other masters of that time. I also read novels, and Paul Auster and Murakami are among my favorites.
Can you tell us what you're working on next?
With Héctor we have just finished a book of Ikigai for children and youngsters.