Only staying active will make you want to live a hundred years. -Japanese proverb
To gain an insight into the secrets behind a long life, we need to look inside the lives of those who have lived the longest and continue to remain youthful in their health and active in their contribution to their community. Japanese people have extraordinary longevity, especially those on the island of Okinawa, where 25/100,000 people are over the age of 100. This is well above the global average. Scaling down even further, a small village on the island of Okinawa has the highest life expectancy on Earth. After this, Ogimi gained its very apt nickname, “the village of longevity’.
So, what are the secrets of the residents of some of these centenarians and what can we learn from them? Japanese woman, Misao Okawa, died at 117 years old in 2015. Until she was 110 she cared for herself unassisted. Naturally, specialists asked her what she did to look after herself and she simply smiled and replied ‘eating sushi and sleeping’.
Low-stress levels seem key in centenarians long lives. Notice how it is low stress, not no stress. Studies from the University of California discovered that people who maintained a low level of stress, who faced challenges and loved their work, lived longer than those who chose a relaxed lifestyle and retired early. So while prolonged, consist stress is bad for longevity, low levels can be beneficial. If you are looking for a way to add a consistent low-stress level activity into your routine, check out this blog post.
Diet is another integral part of a long and happy life. The Okinawan’s have a trick where they will only eat until they are 80% full. This is impossible to quantify but it goes more on instinct. 15 antioxidant-rich foods found in the Okinawan diet include:
-Goya (bitter melon)
-Kombu (sea kelp)
-Hechima (like cucumber)
-Sanpin-cha (jasmine tea)
Lots of these ingredients can be incorporated into your diet at home and if you’re stuck for ideas just buy a Japanese cookbook.
Top 5 Lessons
Authors, Hector Garica & Francesc Miralles wrote a book called ‘Ikigai’. Ikigai could be described as everyone’s individual purpose in life. They conducted many interviews with Japanese people from Okinawa and these are the top 5 lessons they learned from the locals.
1. Don’t Worry
“Here, everyone gets along. We try not to cause problems. Spending time together and having fun is the only thing that matters”
2. Cultivate good habits
“To live a long time you need to do three things: exercise to stay healthy, eat well, and spend time with people”
3. Nature your friendships every day
“Talking each day with the people you love, that’s the secret to a long life”
4. Live an unhurried life
“My secret to a long life is always saying to myself, ‘Slow down’, and ‘Relax’. you will live much longer if you’re not in a hurry”.
5. Be optimistic
“There’s no secret to it. The trick is just to live”.
This article was written by freelance writer, Lachlan Cornell