10 Things the World’s Longest-Living People Do

Recently, researchers Héctor García and Francesc Miralles have expanded their study of the Japanese concept of Ikigai, the rough translation of which is “the happiness of always being busy.” García and Miralles suggest every person has an Ikigai, and that it can be found through patient soul-searching. This generally involves finding balance between your passion, mission, profession, and vocation is the key. While the answer to your Ikigai may take time to uncover, here are 10 general rules to start you on your way:

  1. Stay active and don’t retire. Once García and Miralles arrived in Okinawa, they were shocked to find out how many people simply do not retire — in fact, they even note the lack of a Japanese word for the concept. In order to do what you love for as long as you can, the authors suggest that you make it a priority to stay active in all stages of life.
  2. Take it slow. “When you leave urgency behind, life and time take on new meaning,” the authors advise. So instead of rushing your daily tasks, try to savor and enjoy them for the sake of your Ikigai. ikigai book cover
  3. Don’t fill your stomach. “Less is more when it comes to a long life. Eat a little less than your hunger demands.” According to García and Miralles, one of the most popular phrases in Japan is “Hara hachi bu,” which means something akin to “fill your belly to 80 percent.”
  4. Surround yourself with good friends. “Friends are the best medicine, there for confiding, sharing stories, getting advice, having fun, dreaming… in other words, living.” Basically, it’s a great excuse to gather your girl squad for drinks more often. Hey, it’s for your health!
  5. Get in shape for your next birthday. “The body you move through life needs a bit of gentle daily maintenance.” While the folks on the Japanese island of Okinawa do not perform rigorous exercise, they do regularly get up and move their muscles. Try setting an alarm on your phone every hour to remind yourself to get out of your office chair and move around.
  6. Smile. “It’s a privilege to be in the here and now — and in a world so full of possibilities,” say García and Miralles. Do your best to stay positive no matter what life throws your way, lady.
  7. Reconnect with nature. “Human beings are made to be part of the natural world. Return to it as often as you can,” the authors say. In other words, do your best to make time in your busy schedule to get back to nature, whether that’s a weekend hike with friends or a summer goal to bike to work once a week.
  8. Give thanks. “Give thanks for everything that brightens your day and makes you feel lucky to be alive.” Whether it’s committing to writing in a gratitude journalor simply being more conscious of voicing your gratefulness to the Starbucks barista who saves your morning, do your best to give more thanks throughout the day. ADVERTISING
  9. Live in the moment. We all have those moments where looking ahead at our busy schedule leaves us feeling mega overwhelmed and stressed. “Today is all we have,” the authors note. “Make it worth remembering.”
  10. Find your Ikigai. “There is a passion inside you, a unique talent, that gives meaning to your days and drives you to share the best of yourself until the very end.” You heard it — go get ’em, lady!