Sunset over Mount Fuji

Lifelong Learning Lessons from Around the World: The Japanese “Ikigai” and the 95-Year-Old Doctor

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As we age, it’s easy to feel like our opportunities for learning and growth have passed us by. However, the Japanese concept of “ikigai” reminds us that it’s never too late to find purpose and fulfillment in our lives. In fact, some of the most inspiring examples of lifelong learning come from those who continue to pursue their passions well into their golden years.

One such example is Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, a 95-year-old Japanese doctor who has dedicated his life to promoting healthy living and longevity. Despite his advanced age, Dr. Hinohara continues to work full-time as the director of St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo and is known for his sharp mind and unwavering dedication to his patients.

So, what is Dr. Hinohara’s secret to lifelong learning and peak performance? According to him, it’s all about finding your “ikigai” – the Japanese term for “reason for being” – and living a life of purpose and passion. For Dr. Hinohara, this means constantly challenging himself and pursuing new interests, whether it’s learning to play the piano or writing a book.

Dr. Hinohara also believes in the importance of maintaining an active mind and body. He starts each day with a breakfast of coffee, orange juice, and cookies, followed by a round of golf or a swim in the pool. He also advocates for a healthy diet and regular exercise, as well as staying socially connected with friends and family.

Dr. Hinohara’s inspiring story reminds us that age should never be a barrier to learning and growth. By finding our “ikigai” and living a life of purpose and passion, we can continue to thrive and contribute to the world around us, no matter how many years we’ve been on this earth.

To apply the concept of ikigai, start by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What do I love? This could be a hobby, activity, or anything that brings you joy and happiness.
  2. What am I good at? This could be a skill or talent that you possess, or a profession in which you excel.
  3. What does the world need? This could be a problem that you are passionate about solving, or a cause that you want to support.
  4. What can I be paid for? This could be a job or career that provides financial stability.

Once you have answers to these questions, look for the areas where they overlap. That intersection is your ikigai, the purpose and meaning in your life.

Applying ikigai to your daily life involves incorporating your passions, strengths, and values into your work and personal pursuits. Set goals that align with your ikigai, and seek out opportunities to make a positive impact in the world.

Remember, finding your ikigai is a journey, and it may take time and self-reflection to discover it. But the rewards of living a life with purpose and meaning are worth the effort.

Interested in learning more? Check out these resources:

  1. Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles
  2. Ikigai and Other Japanese Words to Live By” by Mari Fujimoto

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