What’s your Ikigai?

Yesterday I attended a thought-provoking presentation called “Happy to 102: The Best Kept Secrets to a Long, Healthy and Happy Life”.

How old do you think the oldest person ever lived to be?  122 years, 164 days!  Can you imagine???  Here’s what wikipedia has to say about Jeanne Calment, the oldest person, thus far.  Isn’t she cute?  Some things I found interesting about her:  She smoked from age 21 – 117 (though supposedly only 2 a day); She biked til age 100.  She attributes her longevity to olive oil, port wine and eating 2.2 pounds of chocolate a week!  Even though SHE lived to be so old (a combination of lifestyle and genetics), her only daughter died at age 35 from pneumonia, her husband died at age 73 after eating a dessert with spoiled cherries and her only grandchild died at age 36 in a car accident.  So this confirms in my mind the “If not now, then when?” thing I just blogged about – because you never know.

One of the things that apparently extends life is having what the Japanese call “ikigai”, which translated means “a reason for being”.  Essentially – why do you wake up in the morning? A person’s ikigai can be different – related to work, family, a hobby, whatever.  If you have ikigai, you are likely to live longer. Link to a 2008 Psychology Today study on Ikigai and Mortality.  This doesn’t seem too surprising.  To me, people who have an ikigai are probably more motivated, positive people, which probably translates into a healthier lifestyle, which extends your life (typically).  What’s your ikigai?

The take-aways from the presentation were really sort of common sense.  That in order to live a healthier, longer life, one should:

  • Reduce stress.
  • Be active.  Exercise.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Drink a glass of wine daily.  (Yipeeeeeee!)
  • Have a thriving family.
  • Have faith.  Belonging/connecting with a religion/faith apparently extends life by years.

There was also an online quiz that you could take to predict the age you will live to (barring accidents, etc).  I am happy to report that I am not even 1/2 way done living yet.  Woot!  I’m expected to live to 89 years old, based on my current lifestyle etc.  The age calculator gives you feedback at the end of it, based on the answers that you provided, as to what you could do to extend your life.  I’m paraphrasing here, but it basically told me “Holy crap!  You eat way too many sweets” (I answered that I eat 2 sweets daily – only because they didn’t have an option for 3 or more daily!).  It told me that I could extend my life by one year by cutting back on sweets and maybe only eating one sweet 5 days a week.   No thanks – living to age 90, instead of 89, but having to limit my sugar intake isn’t worth it.  Besides, remember Jeanne Calment ate 2.2 POUNDS of chocolate a week and lived to 122! So I’ll take my chances!

Here is my recipe for a happy, healthy and long  life:

  • Run.
  • One glass of red wine daily.
  • 1 – 3 treats daily.  🙂
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • If you aren’t satisfied with something in your life, do something to change/fix/improve it.  It ain’t gonna change/fix/improve itself and life is too precious to be unhappy.
  • Live, instead of just existing!
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