There are more people over a hundred years old in Okinawa, Japan than anywhere else on the planet.
Even more interesting, these centenarians are also in incredibly healthy shape. They’re lean, youthful-looking, energetic and they have the longest disability free life expectancy in the world.
Fascinated by the Okinawans, researchers from the National Geographic have extensively studied these people to try to figure out what they’re doing that makes them so healthy.
Through their studies, these researchers have found many commonalities among the Okinawan people, such as their emphasis on social communities and dietary habits. But one interesting trait that the Okinawan people possess is they have a very unique outlook on life that is very different from ours in the West.
In Okinawa, the people there don’t believe in the idea of retirement.
In the book “The Happiness Equation,” Neil Pasricha says,
“While we think of retirement as the golden age of putting greens, cottage docks, and staring at the clouds, guess what they call retirement in Okinawa? They don’t. They don’t even have a word for retirement. Literally nothing in their language describes the concept of stopping work completely. Instead, they have the word ikigai (pronounced like “icky guy”), which roughly means “the reason you wake up in the morning.”
You can think of ikigai as the thing that drives you the most in life. Ikigai is your sense of purpose and there’s a lot of power that comes with acting on your purpose.
For example, individuals with a strong sense of purpose have been proven to have boosted immune systems, lower stress, and they’re able to better deal with the difficulties they experience through life.
So my question for you is, can you tell me instantly why you wake up every morning? Do you know your ikigai?
My ikigai is to spread ideas that will improve other people’s lives. Your ikigai may be to write your upcoming book, to take care of your family, or to carry through with your passion for photography.
Whatever it is, you should be able to immediately tell people what it is. So again, what’s your ikigai?
If you’re interested in this topic, you can watch this Ted Talk where Dan Buettner shares his insight on the power of ikigai as the cornerstone of Okinawan longevity as well as some other habits of those over 100 years old.