"Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life" by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles; Penguin Books (185 pages, $20)
"Ikigai," loosely translated from the Japanese as "reason for living," encourages us to discover ours by reflecting on what we find where our passion, our mission, our profession and our vocation intersect. The authors travel to Ogimi, a rural town of 3,000 on Okinawa, Japan, that's one of the world's five heralded "Blue Zones," places noted for their large populations of long-livers – and by long I mean older than age 90 and even up to 110.
To what do these simple, joyous and healthy people attribute the gift of their old age? Their secrets are not necessarily surprising but definitely worth the time it will take you to enjoy a cup or two of green tea as you digest this small, charming book: Nurture friendships; be part of a larger community; eat lightly; slow down and live in the moment; smile and be optimistic; reconnect with nature; give thanks; keep your mind and body active – no, not exercise, necessarily, but more like finding joy in the small acts of everyday living. And most important, find your ikigai, the spark that ignites your spirit and can light the way to a long and happy life.