For the last year and ten months, I’ve been writing a weekly column every Friday for the Nikkei, Japan’s equivalent of The Wall Street Journal or The Financial Times. The title of the series was “Omoshiroku Ikiru,” which translates as something like “Living a Fun and Interesting Life.”
I wrote a little bit about business, technology, and leadership, but mostly I covered far more personal matters: how my wife and I are raising our five boys, my hobbies and interests, and the efforts I’m making to give something back to my hometown.
These are rather unconventional topics for a business newspaper, but the articles were widely read and shared by everyone from stay-at-home moms to big company CEOs. When the time came to write my 83rd and final column, I decided that the best way to sign off would be to sum up my recipe for a fun and interesting life in three easy-to-follow rules.
#1 Stay curious
Stay curious throughout your life. Trying new activities and learning new things will broaden you as a person and make your existence much more fun. I know this from experience. When I hit 40, I decided to change my lifestyle completely. I took up the game of Go, became a keen mountain hiker, took up competitive swimming, and began snowboarding.
A rich life should not follow a linear continuum. You should make abrupt and complete changes of direction from time to time.
#2 Enjoy friendships and family
Meeting new people and building the bonds of love and friendship make life more interesting and enjoyable. Joining forces with people you meet enables you to achieve things which you could never do on your own.
The more people you know, the more possibilities open up in front of you.
That’s certainly true of GLOBIS. Its growth has been driven by my meeting and building deep relationships with all sorts of stakeholders: shareholders, customers, and employees.
At the same time, I take my relationship with my family more seriously than anything else on earth. Raising five kids while running a business is tough, so I cut back on things like corporate entertaining and golf.
The joy I get from being with my boys has always been the most precious thing in my life.
#3 Be grateful for what you’ve got
“Taru o shiru” is an old Buddhist saying in Japan. It means something like “be aware that you have enough” or “be satisfied with your lot in life.” It’s important to be happy with what you’ve got and take a glass-half-full rather than a glass-half-empty view of life.
Being in good health makes me happy. So does sitting around the dining table with my family. And sleeping in a mountain hut among other climbers, all packed together like sardines. And even enjoying a simple glass of water when I’m thirsty.
If you learn to be grateful for all the ordinary things, the sense of satisfaction you get from life will deepen immeasurably. The real joy of life is right there in front of you among all your little everyday experiences.
You only live once, so you’ve got to enjoy life. Stay curious. Get the most out of your friends and family. Be content with what you have.
If you follow these three simple rules, then every day of your life—and every minute of every day—will be fun and interesting. I can guarantee it because I’m speaking from experience!