In Japan, the secret to a happier and longer life is called IKIGAI- “your reason to live”. The people of Okinawans in Japan were studied and noted to have the highest life expectancy with a large percentage of centenarians (100 years of age). Their longevity is being connected to IKIGAI meaning the reason for which you wake up in the morning, your sense of purpose, and motivation to living.
The study showed that less than 20% of individual’s life expectancy is linked to genes, the remaining 80% is a result of the individual’s lifestyle and state of mind. Other factors such as good diet and exercising are surely a great influencer on longevity, however finding meaning in life was suggested as the key component of longevity and happiness.
Finding Your Ikigai
It is believed that finding one’s IKIGAI brings a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment to a person’s life. It could be as simple as a hobby that generates an uncommon joy and sensation of pleasure. Whatever activity that brings us joy, of which we are good at and adds value to people around us could be our own IKIGAI. It gives us a sense of direction and keeps us going.
Researchers are of the opinion that finding your Ikigai can rid one of all forms of obsession, especially of things that do not matter. Being happy and content with who we are and where we are going should become the focus. Willing to build from scratch with patience without being critical gives peace of mind and ultimately longer life.
The Joy of Small things
Learn to find joy in the tiniest of things like making your bed in the morning, walking in the rain, staring at the beach etc. Happiness lies in the simplest and seemingly ordinary things of life. Focusing on the present by being appreciative of the gift called life. Be curious and self-aware.
Neglecting family and friends while prioritizing work and money seems to be the order of the day. Relationships are pivotal to a happy living. Family and friends will be needed in the most challenging moments of our lives. We’ll need to nurture and cultivate healthy and vulnerable relationships that can serve as a strong support system. Therefore, plan out time within busy schedules to spend time with family and loved ones either via calls, texting, video conferencing or in person.
The study indicated that every centenarian has their own religious community in which their participation help increase life expectancy. Spirituality and personal faith are secret elixirs. They allow us to find inner peace, accept life as it is and come to terms with the disparity between expectation and reality.
As simple as walking seems, many hardly engage in physical activity during the week- thanks to our 9 to 5 jobs and long hours in traffic. Walking helps lower the risk of cardiac health issues like cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, etc. The centenarians were observed to carry out their daily chores themselves with no modern-day conveniences, thereby aiding regular bodily movements
Till next time, stay happy.