I love reading books, the people around me are aware of my love for books. Recently my brother-in-law gave me a book by name "The Blue Zones", which is about the lessons for a high quality and longer life. If I am not wrong, every human being comes to a point where he wants to explore ways to improve the quality and longevity of his/her life. I have been exploring the same since long, I can say my days in US have ignited those thoughts and shifted gears to change my perspective of life. Earlier, it was all about earning a lot, having a great lifestyle and earning fame. But my life in US has made me understand those are not the parameters which makes your life complete. One can never be complete when they are chasing such unfulfilling and ever changing goals. The Blue Zones has reached me as a blessing, it has bolstered my perspective in a big and effective way by providing examples.
This book is about a research conducted in places where the average number of people reaching 100 years is high. There are places from Italy, Japan, USA and a couple of islands. I am excited to share the mental and lifestyle imperatives required to lead a happy life after getting those from this book.
Family and Friends
The book has reiterated the importance of being surrounded by family and friends. Making family a priority, spending time with friends regularly and laughing a lot everyday were discovered as major reasons for leading a stress free and quality life. This has been the culture in Ikaria, Sardinia and Okinawa. They have no time scheduled to do these, these have been inculcated in their lifestyles through generations. Sardinians have a habit of meeting friends every evening, Okinawa has a concept called "Moai", which is a group of friends who meet on a daily basis to share gossips, happy moments and problems. If one individual has a problem the entire group comes together to help. Also, most of these places put family ahead of everything. Every family has grand parents who impart the culture and values and share their experiences with their grand children. This helps them not to lose the age old traditions. None of these people live in big homes, the reasoning they give for this is, when you have big homes everyone tend to stay in their rooms more. But in small homes the family members interact very often and the chances of knowing each others feelings are high.
Less Time to Worry
In the current competitive and corporate world, most of you would have heard "Dream Big, Work Harder", "Don't Work Harder than your Competition, Be your Own Competition" and many other quotes similar to these. But what longevity experts say is nothing close to these. They discovered that being simple is what one needs to follow to have a quality life. One of the beliefs that the people in Blue Zones has is that " God is in control of their lives". This belief gives them the courage required to feel that someone is taking care of them. This seems to be very true, when we go back to our childhood. We were oblivious of the fact that the world has many problems when we were a kid, the only thing that we knew was that parents are there to take care of us. We never had to worry about tomorrow and regret about the past. In a similar way, feeling that God is in control of your life facilitates us to be happy and content. Also, people in these places take sometime out of their schedules to relieve themselves from stress through meditation or any other activity. One of the interesting methods identified to not to worry about problems is by taking care of others.
Year by year the number of people I find who stay active throughout the day has been declining. I won't be able to draw conclusions on why this is happening. In the book they gave a picture of a 75 years old person, who climbs up a mountain every day. He has to cover a total of 8.5 kilometers to climb it up and down. Sheep farming is what most people rely on for their livelihood in Sardinia. They have to climb a mountain every day for grazing their sheep. Gardening has been part of the culture in Okinawa, every home has a place to grow some plants. Okinawans take care of the gardens by themselves, this involves digging holes to plant trees, watering them and cleaning. All these activities involve several physical movements, which improves the strength of their muscles and bones.
The Concept of IKIGAI
This is a concept well known not just in Okinawa but in all parts of Japan. Ikigai means the reason for being, in Okinawa it is thought as "the reason to get out of bed every morning". Ikigai is a convergence of four elements
- What you love
- What the world needs
- What you are good at
- What you get paid for
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I personally feel that the concept of Ikigai is more useful in the career aspect. We tend to find a job which might be highly paid or if it is in a renowned organization. But it is proved that if you find something which has all the four elements you never have to worry going to your job everyday. When I say paid, it doesn't need to be highly paid, you just have to ensure that it is paid enough provided it includes all the other three attributes. It gives a reason to wake up every morning. Just imagine the days when you do something for the society, how fulfilled you will be. Ikigai is just replicating that everyday with love, earning and proficiency added to it.
Overall, the lessons from this book are very evidently focused on staying simple and imbibing several things into the lifestyle which can make us live a quality and longer life. How hard it can be to walk for a couple of kilometers, staying silent to relieve stress, taking out sometime out of the busy schedule and meet friends to laugh out loud?
Just GO FOR IT!!!!!!