Dan Buettnor’s TED talk How To Live To Be 100+ explains some of the common dominators in the world’s ‘Blue Zones’, areas where people are living to age 100 at rates up to 10 times greater than Americans are and where the life expectancy is an extra dozen years. Below is a diagram of what Buettnor’s team found when working alongside National Geographic and the National Institute on Aging:
For me, some of the most interesting points raised were that one of the most common denominators in achieving longevity was keeping active even after retirement. Interestingly, “in the Okinawan language there is not even a word for retirement. Instead there is one word that imbues your entire life, and that word is “ikigai.” And, roughly translated, it means “the reason for which you wake up in the morning.” What a great idea!
If I could summarise in one sentence why I wake up in the morning, it’s because I believe my life is worth something. I believe that there’s no point being alive unless you actually want to achieve something while you have the ability to do so! It doesn’t mean that I’ve actually achieved anything or have an all-consuming passion that’s my sole justification for existence, but I do have a willingness to get up in the morning to find exactly what that is.
The TED talk got me thinking more about how human beings try to make their life worth something. I don’t really care if I live to seventy, eighty or 114 (the age of the oldest person in the world), but what I do care about is making sure my years on this earth actually amount to something.