The Okinawa islands of Japan are known to be the place where the longest living people reside. What’s more, it’s where happiness is a permanent part of the average person’s life and each Okinawan truly enjoys each and every day.
There are 5 times as many centenarians, and people live at least 7 good years longer than the average American. There are much less heart diseases, almost no depression, and even cancer is a rare occasion.
So they must be doing some things differently than us. Let’s see what these are:
Longevity and Happiness Secrets from The People of Okinawa
1. They embrace an Ikigai.
Ikigai means a reason for living. And it’s something every individual has to define on his own after he studies his inner self.
Okinawans, especially the old ones, have found that early on, and can easily describe the why behind their daily life. They have a reason for getting up in the morning, which means they have a reason for being.
But most people from other cultures are confused. They follow a path that society has created for them, live by someone else’s standards, are doing many things all the time and don’t really pay attention to their deepest desires.
They rarely find out their purpose and passions in life. And even if they are close to them, they are afraid to admit them and to follow them. Because often this means not answering other people’s expectations, not finishing big current projects, not being ordinary.
But finding and embracing your ikigai is one of the first steps to a long, happy life. Without it, you’ll just wander through life, holding onto material things, memories from the past, other people, or else. You’ll jump from one goal to another, from one daily task to the next. And you’ll rarely know why you do all that. And, which is more important, it won’t feel like the right thing.
According to Psychology Today “Individuals who believe their lives are worth living live longer.”
And if you too want to make sure you make it till the end with a smile on your face, get clear about what you want in life and find meaning in your days. Know why you wake up in the morning and you’ll have the best motivation to do it.
2. Their diet is plant-based.
The Okinawa diet is quite famous and is believed to be one of the main reasons for the longevity of the people there.
They live a long life, usually make it to 100+ years, and even die quickly and peacefully in their sleep.
So what do Okinawans eat exactly?
Here are the main elements of their diet:
- 30% green and yellow vegetables;
- fermented soy foods;
- tofu (they eat it 8 times as much as Americans do);
- small quantities of rice;
- sweet potatoes;
- a tiny amount of fish;
- turmeric and jasmine tea;
Check out more about the cuisine here and the diet itself here.
A proper diet, however, determines up to %30 of our longevity. So it’s not all about that.
But if you get rid of the processed fats and junk food once and for all, and rely mainly on plants, the number of years you’ll live will be much more optimistic.
3. They never overeat and maintain their weight.
They don’t just eat simply, they also eat much less.
Their diet is vegetarian and seafood rich and filled with anti-oxidants. But that also means it’s low in fat and sugar and is calorie restricted.
All that slows the aging process, makes Okinawans healthier and happier and lets them enjoy life longer.
“Okinawan centenarians tend to stay lean throughout their lives by eating fewer calories than they burn off during the day. But retaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) is just one piece of the longevity puzzle; maintaining a stable weight is every bit as important.” (Fitness Magazine)
In his TED talk How to Live to Be 100+, Dan Buettner shares that the culture of Okinawa includes smaller plates, fewer calories per meal (due to the low-calorie-density foods they consume mostly like vegetables, plants and soups) and they even keep the rest of the food away while eating so that there are no temptations and unconscious overeating.
4. Everyone is in a moai.
They live a social life with the help of forming moais – groups of people who support and help each other, meet and communicate often, and contribute to financial funds.
All this is quite different from the so-called social gathering of the average person of today. It’s not about nightlife, or using social media, or going shopping or to a café.
The Okinawa community is all about honest communication, compassion, building better relationships, sharing ideas, connecting emotionally and reducing stress.
They even make their meals more social and thus enjoy them more.
5. They are more active.
People in Okinawa are generally fit.
The karate originated there and many people practice tai chi. Gardening is quite a common thing. Most people grow their own vegetables and that counts as daily exercise too.
Now you know the main reasons why Okinawans have the longest life expectancy than anywhere else on the planet.
What do you think? And which of these habits and changes can you bring to your life today?