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Description: Are you looking forward to the, likely distant point in the future when you will retire? What will that be like? Having recently “retired” myself I can tell you that it is not (or it need not be) about sitting around and relaxing. In fact I have found myself telling people who ask me how my retirement is going that I think I need another word for what I did (other than retire). The Japanese do not really have a word for retirement and, if by that we mean ceasing work and not working at anything anymore they also lack any such concept. Instead they speak of ikigai and finding one’s ikigai can prolong one’s life. Haven’t heard of the term? Well read the article linked below and find out about it and then start expanding your own retirement planning portfolio!

Source: Want to live longer? Find your ikigai., Hector Garcia, Life and Style, Inner Life, The Guardian.

Date: September 3, 2017

Photo Credit:  Alamy

Links:  Article Link —

The lovely animated film “Up” actually captures the concept of ikigai rather well. To find one’s reason for being is to find a way to carry one live positively and live longer.  As with other phases of life (think emerging adulthood and identity formation, development, and commitment) as Health Psychologist Kelly McGonigal  puts it in relation to stress  “It is better to chase meaning that to avoid discomfort (or rest and boredom we might add)” .  So perhaps the Japanese have it right, we should not retire but, rather, move into a different phase of life work.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How is the Japanese concept of retirement different than that in North America?
  2. Are there ways in which older people in North America may actually already be doing it right from a perspective of ikigai?
  3. What sorts of adjustments might we make in the area of “retirement planning” to more fully take advantage of what the Japanese concept of ikigai suggests? (and what sort of research is needed before we get too far into this idea?

References (Read Further):

Garcia, Hector and Miralles, Francesca (2017) Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life London, UK: Hutchinson.

Kelly McGonigal TED Talk: How to  make stress your friend,

Ailshire, J. A., & Crimmins, E. M. (2011). Psychosocial factors associated with longevity in the United States: Age differences between the old and oldest-old in the Health and Retirement Study. Journal of Aging Research, 2011.

McMunn, A., Nazroo, J., Wahrendorf, M., Breeze, E., & Zaninotto, P. (2009). Participation in socially-productive activities, reciprocity and wellbeing in later life: baseline results in England. Ageing & Society, 29(5), 765-782.