In my recent memory, Japan has always held the crown for the longest living humans – almost 20 years higher than the world average. Therefore, it isn’t a surprise that Japan also has the highest centenarians per capita, i.e., the highest ratio of people that are over 100 years old as a percentage of its population.
Within Japan, the island of Okinawa (aka The Land of Immortals) has the highest rate of centenarians per capita. Okinawa also holds the global immortality title as it has the highest occurrence of centenarians in the world!
The nutritionally dense but low calorie, Okinawa diet is credited to be a significant factor behind this phenomenon. However, the legend of Okinawans is more than what they eat, which is what Ikigai: the Japanese secret to a long and happy life delves deeply into.
The word ikigai translates to “the happiness of always being busy,” and it is the reason we get up in the morning. What is ikigai, and how do the Okinawans follow it is the concept that reverberates throughout the book.
Here are my favorite highlights from the book:
- Okinawans live by the principle of ichariba chode, a local expression that means “treat everyone like a brother, even if you’ve never met them before.”
- Eat only until your stomach is 80% full
- Most health problems are caused by stress
- The mind has tremendous power over the body and how quickly it ages
- If you keep moving with your fingers working, 100 years will come to you
- The last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way
- We don’t create the meaning of our life – we discover it
- We all have the capacity to do noble or terrible things. The side of the equation we end up on depends on our decisions, not on the condition in which we find ourselves.
- Accept your feelings.
- If we try to get rid of one wave with another, we end up with an infinite sea
- We shouldn’t focus on eliminating symptoms, because recovery will come on its own
- We can’t control our emotions, but we can take charge of our actions every day
- It is much more important to have a compass pointing to a concrete objective than to have a map
- Technology is great if we’re in control of it. It’s not so great if it takes control of us.
- The most important thing is to be disciplined in completing the cycle.
- If you are not truly being challenged, we get bored and add a layer of complexity to amuse yourself
- The most important thing is to focus on the journey
- Humor can break negative cycles and reduce anxiety
- A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell on the future
- The secret is smiling and having a good time
- Spending time together and having fun is the only thing that matters
- To live a long time you need to do three things: exercise to stay healthy, eat well and spend time with people
- Talking each day with the people you love, that’s the secret to a long life
- They celebrate all the time, even little things, Music, song, and dance are essential parts of daily life
- They ate an average of eighteen different food each day
- More than 30 percent of their daily calories come from vegetables
- Serving food on many small plates makes it easier to avoid eating too much
- An active body leads to a calm mind
- They concentrate on the things that they can control and don’t worry about those they can’t
- To practice negative visualization we have to reflect on negative events but without worrying about them
- Worrying about things that are beyond our control accomplishes nothing.
- It is not what happens to you but how you react that matters
- Only things that are imperfect, incomplete, and ephemeral can truly be beautiful because those things resemble the natural world
- This moment exists only now and won’t come again
- To build resilience into our lives, we shouldn’t fear adversity
- Setback is an opportunity for growth
- Each moment will hold so many possibilities that it will seem like almost an eternity
- Life is not a problem to be solved
- Just remember to have something that keeps you busy doing what you love while being surrounded by the people who love you.
- Today is all you have. Make the most of it.