I lived in Japan for a period and love the country, culture, and language. It is what drew me to read Héctor García’s book, Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, co-authored with Francesc Miralles. In my conversation with Héctor, we discuss how the book takes some Japanese concepts and combines them with other Eastern thought, Western philosophy, and practical philosophy. Perhaps this melding of ideas is why the book has sold so well. Its influence has been far-reaching and remarkable – translated into at least 58 world languages and is the most translated book to have originally been written in Spanish.
As Héctor explains, the term “ikigai” roughly indicates one’s purpose in life (technically translating as “a reason for being”). To use Héctor’s own vivid explanation, it is what wakes you up with excitement in the morning. Héctor’s insightful exploration of this profound theme shapes not just the book bearing its name, but also Héctor’s other works. He is the author of The Book of Ichigo Ichie, Forest Bathing, and A Geek in Japan (which shares a title with his long-running blog). His most recent book, The Ikigai Journey, offers action steps to accompany the philosophical ideas in Ikigai, and his soon-to-be-released Ikigai for Teens offers to help younger readers navigate questions of purpose.
Héctor is a thoughtful person whose life experience spans countries and cultures – from his Spanish hometown to his many years in Japan – as well as fields of study and engagement. He was training in computer science when he realized his affinity for writing, and even now he combines working in IT with his ventures as a writer and self-styled aspiring philosopher. I find his ideas to be inclusive and compelling. Any listener can learn from Héctor about living deeply and well, and aspiring writers are sure to be intrigued by his unique writing process.
“I’m aspiring to become a better thinker, . . . to have clear thoughts about what all this is about.” – Héctor García
This week on The School for Good Living Podcast:
- How the purpose of life can be conceived of in terms of a two-fold search – plus having fun!
- How Héctor believes people can learn about themselves
- Héctor’s tendency to become obsessed with things and the new interest he wants to pursue
- Héctor’s photography and why he considers himself an aspiring philosopher
- Thoughts on why Ikigai resonates with so many Indian readers
- How Héctor and his co-author arrived at the model on the back of their book
- What ikigai is, what holds people back from living it and whether or not it changes over time
- Why compasses are to be preferred over maps and what makes for a bad ikigai declaration
- Thoughts on action steps, laying aside expectations and universal realities
- What life is like and the fact that people can achieve greatness in most areas with effort
- Hêctor’s “Do It” shirt and accompanying advice to would-be writers
- Who to read and why travel is better with a physical book
- Héctor’s story of how writing brought healing and of finding himself by removing things
- His reflections on the US culture’s sense of being the center of the world
- What four pieces of insight Héctor has found to help his relationships work
- How to think about emotions tied to money
- When Héctor first realized he was a writer and how he persisted in the face of rejection
- The way in which Héctor thinks about and has used personal connections
- The place of proto-ideas, ongoing books, green tea and more in his writing process
- How co-writing has worked and the persona being developed now
- Remembering that great authors were once children can be helpful to new writers
- Héctor’s own work:
- Ikigai (written with Francesc Miralles)
- Ken Robinson TED Talks
- Mark Winn blog, specifically regarding ikigai
- Haruki Murakami
- The persona Nobuo Suzuki and book Wabi Sabi
Connect with Héctor García:
- Visit his website – hectorgarcia.org
- Hector on Twitter
- Hector on Instagram
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