Have you ever asked yourself this question… How long can I live for?
Well, this never crossed my mind, before I attended Granny Owens 100th birthday. Ever since then, I have been fascinated by the possibility of reaching that age in a happy, healthy and fulfilling way. It has become my passion and my daily commitment to practise the techniques I learn, to eat healthy food (or refrain from eating when I am fasting), to move as much as possible, and most importantly to keep acquiring new knowledge that relates to my longevity. In my research, I stumbled across an article from a Japanese doctor, Dr Shigeaki Hinohara, who practised medicine until a few months before passing at the age of 105. So I wanted to share the invaluable insight of a man who clearly practised what he preached and who gained much insight into his favourite question; what makes people live longer?
His wisdom for longer life includes some fairly intuitive points and some not so obvious ones.
Fun Is the Best Painkiller
Studies so far have shown that laughter can help relieve pain, bring greater happiness, and even increase immunity.
Hinohara didn’t want to subject other people to his complaints of aches and pains. Instead, he turned to the wisdom of children when it came to dealing with pain. They often forget their discomfort through the distraction of play, fun and laughter. In fact, one study suggests that healthy children may laugh as much as 400 times per day, but adults tend to laugh only 15 times per day. Laughter not only diverts your focus to the positive but also has physical benefits on your body. Here are a few:
- Hormones: Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine, and also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones, like endorphins. Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells we have working for us and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress.
- Emotional release: Have you experienced that cleansed feeling after a good laugh? I have many times, and the feeling of happiness is so intense. I am sure you can also relate to that…
- Physical workout: A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterwards.
- Perspective: If you are equipped with a good sense of humour you are able to see the challenges that life throws your way in a different light. Humour can give us a more lighthearted perspective and help us to see the more positive side of those challenges.
- Social benefits: Laughter is so contagious, it connects you with others even if they are complete strangers. So, if you bring more smiles and laughter into your life, you can most likely help others around you to laugh more. This will help them enjoy the benefits of laughter, reduce their stress levels and improve the quality of social interaction you experience with them.
Don’t Place Too Much Importance on Material Possessions
Hinohara’s advice is to give less importance to all your material possessions and place your attention on experiences, especially the ones shared with other people. Often our best memories derive more from the feeling of happiness during those experiences than owning material goods.
With great sense of humour Hinohara says “ You never know when you’re going to kick the bucket and you can’t take any of your ‘stuff’ with you anyway”
Carry Your Own Shopping and Use the Stairs
Dr Hinohara stressed the importance of moderate everyday physical activity. Opting for little bits of activity like walking, using the stairs and carrying your own shopping will keep your muscles active (and therefore working), help create new brain cells (literally keeping you smart) and fight ageing. This regular exercise will also promote BDNF production in the brain; the main protein responsible for creating and developing new brain cells. In a relatively short amount of time, our lifestyle has changed from hunter-gatherer walking 10 miles a day, to sitting at a desk for 8 hours. Our bodies are not designed for such a sedentary life, and regular physical activity is one of the best ways we can stay healthy.
There is no need for any fancy equipment, or to spend hours on end in the pursuit of it. Just 30 mins a day of physical activity can help you be healthy, feel more energetic, sleep better, make you sharper, be happier and make you live longer.
Start at whatever level you feel comfortable with, be consistent and keep gradually increasing the time or intensity of your physical activity.
Above all enjoy!!! Endorphins are a powerful feel good by product !
Try Not to Overeat
With supermarkets within walking distance of most homes, we’re not in danger of going hungry. In fact quite the opposite we are more in danger of eating too much. So it’s of the utmost importance to stick to small portions of low calorie, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, is the best way to avoid overeating without feeling hungry.
If you overeat unhealthy foods, such as high-fat fast foods or sugary desserts, you’ll get an initial rush of energy, but crash shortly after, leaving you feeling sluggish and fatigued. These unhealthy foods can also cause uncomfortable digestive problems such as bloating and gas. Overeating can also lead to bone and joint pain, because the excess weight can put additional pressure on your skeleton, which can lead to pain and discomfort, particularly in the lower back and hips.
Chronic overeating can impact mental health. A large portion of your self-image and self-esteem is connected to how you feel about your looks and having a negative self-image could over time lead to depression, anxiety and intimacy-related difficulties.
Finally, overeating increases your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, gallbladder disease, high cholesterol and sleep apnea.
On the other hand, shedding excess weight can boost self-image and improve overall mental health.
Hinohara’s message is a clear warning that carrying excess weight from overstuffing won’t do you any favours.
In my humble opinion, I would add some weekly or monthly fasting or intermittent fasting and acquire better control over your hunger pangs.
Don’t Opt for Surgery
This point wasn’t an obvious one for me at first. I was brought up in the belief that doctors possessed the truth and knowledge about your health and well being, and that their opinion was not to be questioned. Although I have huge respect for the work that doctors do and for medicine, I now would rely on other alternatives like fasting, cold & heat therapy, breathwork, supplementation, meditation and exercise for my own good health. So I have regained control over my health, and that is such a wonderful feeling.
Despite being a doctor himself, Hinohara advised against always listening to your doctor and going under the knife without trying less intrusive methods first (like laughter or music therapy). He said many things can be cured without opting immediately for surgery, which is common wisdom in much eastern philosophy.
I don’t know about you but I totally agree with Dr Hinohara’s view.
Find your life purpose or Ikigai!
During your existence so far, how many times have you asked yourself the fundamental questions about why we are here on this planet… such as, What is it all about?… , what is my mission in life ?…. what is my life plan… Was I born with a purpose or a divine path? etc…
Since my teenage years, I had these questions in my mind, I tried to ignore them at times, usually because I was not able to find the answers. These are, after all, pretty big questions!!
In Japan, they call it Ikigai, the Japanese secret to a long happy life. This word originates from the south Japanese islands of Okinawa. Ikigai refers to an individual’s overarching motivator – something that injects joy into their days and can even add years to their life. In other words, it is what makes you get out of bed in the morning and gives purpose and meaning to your days and ultimately your life. This is one common tactic that characterizes the blue zones where people seriously increase their longevity and live to more than 100 years.
Dr Hinohara observed that when many people retire they slowly stop being busy. Their diaries suddenly go from being full to almost empty and they find themselves feeling lost and with no sense of purpose. The doctor had his schedule as full as he ever did when he was young, with hospital engagements, conferences and social events, even past the age of 100. Hinohara claimed that to stay active by planning your daily activities, your hobbies, your social calendar and your next travels is key to longevity. When a person stops planning they tend to stop living as fully. “If you must retire, do it well after 65″. People who work after retirement often remain more active and socially connected, which can mean living longer in better overall health, having more fulfilling lives and fewer medical issues. Working part-time can give you a sense of being part of something without being tied to a career and long hours.
In fact, a recent study by the University of Oregon found that working after age 65 may actually add more years to your life. They found that working just one year past 65 can lower your risk of death by 11%.
Retirement can be the start of a whole new career, a chance to learn new skills. You can begin a volunteering project that lets you give back to the community or start an online business around your passion or expertise.
There’s an important distinction though; to carry on working in a stressful or unfulfilling role will probably shorten your lifespan, not lengthen it. On the contrary, having a job, a role or hobbies you enjoy will keep your brain active, provide you with social contact will most probably make you live longer and maintain a sense of purpose. Purpose ties it all together. Purpose is a reason to keep going, especially when it involves responsibilities and other people. So my question to you is this… Have you found your Ikigai? What will make you live to 100?
Simply put, to live longer give yourself a reason to live!
I personally have nothing else to add, he is spot on, and all you have to do now is find your reason to live!
Take care my friends, until next week!
Smart living to 100.
DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.