The secrets of the World's Longest Living People!

The secrets of the World's Longest Living People!

A Japanese proverb says, "Only if you keep active will you want to live to be a hundred years old."
I find that there is a great truth enclosed in these words, because life should not be lengthened but enlarged. In other words, what is the point of living to be a hundred years old if you do it passively, without a purpose and without the very joy of living?
It is possible to reach a hundred years not only by surviving but by leading a happy and fulfilled existence. And this is demonstrated by the longest-lived people in the world, starting with the centenarian communities in Okinawa. On the Japanese island, not only is life expectancy significantly higher than the global average, but also the happiness of its inhabitants.
The same is true for the other "blue zones", those places on the planet where there is the highest concentration of centenarians. What is the secret? A series of habits and lifestyles that all these places have in common.
The five areas with the highest concentration of centenarians in the world are Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, Loma Linda in California, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica and Icaria in Greece.
These five areas of the world are very distant from each other, spread over three different continents (America, Europe and Asia). As said, they are not only the most long-lived populations, but also the happiest ones. On the other hand, it is well known that a long life is almost always synonymous with a peaceful life, while those who struggle to enjoy their being alive end up dying out much earlier.

The inhabitants of the island of Okinawa regularly exercise (walking, vegetable garden care, QiQong and tai chi) even when they are over a hundred years old, follow a mainly vegetarian diet with lots of vegetables and tofu, respect the so-called "80% rule", i.e. you get up from the table when you are 80% full, never eat until you burst, and, finally, have a strong sense of community thanks to the "clubs" of which all the elderly are part. Everyone strongly believes in ikigai, that is, in finding a purpose in life that is carried on to the end.
In Sardinia, the diet of the inhabitants is mainly of vegetable origin, with a large consumption of fruit, vegetables, dried fruit, legumes and cereals, abundant use of extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter and they allow themselves a glass of red wine at lunch and one at dinner. The family has a key role and no elder feels abandoned to himself but is always involved in the community. In addition, they alternate work in the fields with moments of "sweet doing nothing".
Even in Loma Linda there is a strong sense of community, the diet is basically vegetarian and people have as natural a lifestyle as possible.
In the Nicoya Peninsula people typically get up at 05:30 without any alarm clocks, work in the countryside every single day and eat only what they produce.
On the island of Icaria one inhabitant out of three is over ninety years old; the lifestyle has been the same since 500 B.C.; the people follow a Mediterranean diet and always eat according to seasonality; there is the habit of taking a nap.

These are the main characteristics of the five blue zones of the world. Although different from each other, there are some characteristics in common that perhaps reveal the "secret" of a long and happy life.

A sense of community. Wherever people live long lives, there are strong communities. No one is abandoned to their fate, no one feels alone and excluded. Perhaps, for this very reason, no one feels old and inadequate, and therefore without a reason to continue living. Even at more than a hundred years old, people from these areas meet to be together and have an active role in society. This is a crucial aspect because it is in total contrast to the life we live in the big western cities, where we are many, we have everything and we have never been so alone.

The diet. A predominantly vegetarian diet, with ample consumption of fruit, vegetables, dried fruit, legumes and cereals is another common point among all five areas. But it's not just a matter of categories, there are two other elements: seasonality is respected and what you eat is produced directly by the locals. The producer is therefore also the consumer.

Mind and body are always busy. Almost 100% of Okinawa's inhabitants have a vegetable garden that they personally tend until the end of their days. The vegetable garden is another constant in the blue zones, but it is a matter that goes beyond food: it serves both to stay physically active and to have a purpose in everyday life. Many people in the West have only one reason to get up in the morning: work. Then, when they retire, they get depressed because their life no longer seems to make any sense. In order to live happily, it is essential to have goals that go beyond responsibility. Whether it is a hobby, an animal or plants to take care of, a friendship to cultivate or a tradition to defend and pass on. The body and mind of centenarians are always busy, because those who are busy have a reason to live.

They live lightly. All the communities of centenarians on this list have a very positive view of life. In Okinawa centenarians laugh in the face of misfortune, in Sardinia they all gather together to "do nothing", in Costa Rica they wake up at dawn and are grateful to have another day at their disposal, in California they pray with joy. In these communities life is faced with lightness and slowness. When you think about it, the hustle and bustle of our noisy, polluted big cities is exhausting.

Finally, there is one last point that communities of centenarians from all over the world have in common and that is the ability to make life easier. It is not simple, because in this materialistic and consumerist society we have been convinced that a just life is a complicated life full of things, relationships, thoughts and responsibilities. All this complexity wears us out and shortens our time. Life is simple if we change the way we consider it.
When you realize that you don't need much to be happy, you finally become free and you can go back to smiling, without having the pressure of never feeling enough.
If you want to have a long and happy life, don't look for a complex solution. Try to simplify instead: you will have more control over your existence and you will realize that you already have everything you need to live well.

These were some of the secrets of the world's longest-lived people. You and your language exchange friends would like to live to be 100 years old and happy? I bet you would, so why not try some of their good habits?

Written by: Martina Sassi, Staff Writer Language Exchange