Gregg Krech

For Life on Purpose Episode #20, my guest is author, speaker, and teacher Gregg Krech, one of the leading authorities on Japanese Psychology in North America. Gregg joins me to discuss the importance of taking informed action, how maintaining awareness of our finite reality can infuse your life with passion and urgency, the Japanese philosophies of Naikan and Morita Therapy, and some of the tools he uses to live a meaningful and purposeful life.

About Gregg Krech:

ArtOfTakingActionGregg Krech is an author, speaker, teacher, and one of the leading authorities on Japanese Psychology in North America. He’s also the founding Director of the ToDo Institute, an educational center for purposeful living, based in Vermont.

Gregg is the author of the award-winning book: Naikan: Gratitude, Grace & the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection, which has been translated into five languages, and he’s the editor of Thirty Thousand Days: A Journal for Purposeful Living. His work has been featured in a wide range of publications including THE SUN magazine, Utne Reader, Fitness, Counseling Today, Cosmopolitan, and Experience Life.

His most recent book, The Art of Taking Action: Lessons from Japanese Psychology brings an eastern perspective to the issue of purpose is currently an Amazon best-seller in the Zen category. It offers an empowering approach to meeting our own personal goals, but also focuses on the impact on our actions (and inactions) on the world..

To learn more about Gregg, the book, and the ToDo Institute, visit: or

Episode Summary:

In JUST the first 10 minutes of our in-depth conversation, Gregg and I discussed:

  • The misperception that Eastern Philosophy is only about contemplation and not action.
  • The importance of 30,000, which is the average number of days a person has to live.
  • “Having a lot of checkmarks on your ‘To Do’ list doesn’t necessarily mean living a meaningful life.”
  • “In a lot of Western psychology and time management and productivity programs, there’s this goal of trying to get as much done and get everything checked off your list… I think when we step back and realize that our lifetime is limited — 30,00 days of course is just an estimate; some of will live longer and some of us will live less. But when we think about that, what rises to the top of the equation is not just getting those things done but, ‘Are we doing the things that are most important for us to do?’ , ‘Are we doing the things that allow us to find meaning in our lives, to find fulfillment, to contribute what it is we want to contribute to the world?'”
  • “So one of the challenges for us to maintain the awareness of our mortality in a sense, so that we can make sure that we can set aside time… I really advise people to do this each and every day… for the things that we really want to be doing with our life and not seeing them as something on the horizon or in the future and that we’ll get to when our pension is vested or when we finally get the chance to quit our job and become an artist or something like that.”
  • How DO you remind yourself of that on a daily basis?
  • What it was like to have his own father die in Gregg’s arms and how that prompted his latest book.
  • “When I got back from that trip, even though I’ve been teaching this material for years, it was more real and more personal than ever before.”
  • Some people find [the 30,000 days] to be a kind of melancholy exercise. But most of the people that I work with, when you get past the shock — because if you’re over forty, you’ve already passed your halfway point —it can be a very helpful and constructive thing because it can shock you back into the reality that you’ve got to figure out how you want to spend your remaining time and how you do that is really an important choice.”
  • The other crucial questions to ask yourself: What are you willing to GIVE UP? and What are you willing to RISK to have the life you really want?
  • “One of the things I’ve noticed in myself and in the people I’ve worked with is that as we get older, often our willingness to take risks in our life really goes down significantly, particularly when we add a family or household, when we have a job we aren’t willing to let go of.”
  • “When I was 33, I was dating a woman who is now my wife [Linda] and lived in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and I basically just kind of dropped my life and packed up a van and we moved to Vermont to start from scratch and try to start a retreat center for Japanese psychology. But that was before I had kids and before I had very much in my life to try to hold on to, so trying to make that move now and would I be willing to do it?”