“As long as our fingers remain busy in doing work, our mind will stay active and our body youthful and this is key to my long healthy and happy life.” That’s according to one centenarian resident in Japan’s “longevity village,” Okinawa.
This much written about Blue Zone is home to people believed to be the healthiest and happiest centenarians on the planet. This stems in large part to their belief in “yuimaaru,” the Japanese principle of team work or helping one another. These people have a strong sense of community and a strong “ikigai” or reason to live. Ikigai is often referred to as the art of staying young while growing old. Sounds like the cultural embodiment of living 100:100.
Okinawans have a mission and a passion throughout their life. They are constantly busy – but without hurrying or worrying. In fact, they believe in an unhurried life, yet often people 90 years and older will wake up at 5:30am to work in their kitchen gardens. Everyone works with passion and purpose. They persevere and seek personal growth – regardless of their age. It is commonplace for them to visit their neighbors and relatives. Regularly they go for walks. They love to play games, read, knit – any variety of hobbies.
Their culture does not include the concept of retirement. People work as long as they are physically able. Financial need does not come into play.
These are just a few of the revelations in Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles. It’s not a recently published book, but one that, like Japanese themselves, gets better with age.