My son bought me Ikigai for my birthday. We had been chatting a couple of months earlier about finding meaning in life, living rather than working and what it means to have a career. He is at the start of his, I was jokingly saying that I am near the end of mine (I am probably a little distance from being able to retire). He had somehow come across this book and I remember us discussing it from the perspective of Japanese culture so it was a lovely surprise to receive it as a gift.

I have just finished the section on flow so have stopped to reflect on the things that get me into that state. In no particular order:

  • Moving data / code to create something new - eg I have recently be using grafana to create data visualisations of information collected from sensor networks and can easily spend hours incrementally improving the code
  • Making things - electronics, woodwork - I enjoy the graft of incremental improvement and development.
  • I swim outdoors - at least twice a week I swim between 20-40 minutes in a Lido. It is hard to explain how relaxing the repetition of 20-30 lengths can be on my body
  • Allotment - I tend to do the physical labour of clearing, weeding, composting, planting - where as my wife focuses on acquiring seeds, planning what to plant when etc. I can spend half a day on the allotment without realising, listening to podcasts, working until my back aches.
  • Ideation - often in that first hour of semi state between sleep and awake I will lie in bed and come up with solutions to problems and ideas for new things. I often have a strange sense of clarity so will make quick notes of thoughts before going back to sleep.
  • Free chatting - talking in the pub, over dinner, or in meetings with colleagues- that process of free flowing discussions about ideas.

There are more; cycling to work, walking, folding clothes, etc. But they are not activities like emails, writing, reading - they seem to contain more friction.

Takeaway - I need to give more time to create space for not being distracted. A few years ago in a period of time when I had fewer distractions I would start the week planning out what I would focus on for the next few days. I will try that again.

New words:

  • Takumi - artisan or craftsperson
  • Mabui - a persons essence


  • Hari hachi bu - the practice of eating until you are 80% full (will also be drinking more sanpin cha and counting how many different foods I eat in a day)