Are you doing what you love and have a purpose that propels you to get up in the morning and pursue it? It’s believed that having a reason for being will extend your longevity and help you stay healthy. The Japanese call it “ikigai” (ick-ee-guy).
Ikigai originated on the Japanese island of Okinawa, which is known as one of the world’s longevity hotspots, according to Dan Buettner, author of Blue Zones: Lessons on Living Longer from People Who’ve Lived the Longest.
The idea is also practiced in other areas of the world where centenarians are common.
Its basic premise is to achieve balance in all the areas of life: love, family, spirituality, sense of community, knowledge and profession. People are naturally curious but when they lose that sense of curiosity and live only to survive, they may lapse into depression or become ill.
If you talk to someone who is old but still vital and active, they’ll usually be involved in something that keeps them going – like a cause or vocation.
They may be voracious readers or are frequently out in nature staying active. There’s always something new to learn, see or do that gives a person a reason to live and stay engaged.
When all four elements work in congruence, you will inevitably be happier and more satisfied with life. How can you balance the areas of your life and achieve ikigai?
The idea of working all your life and then suddenly stopping so you can live a “life of leisure” is outdated. Who wants to sit and do nothing?
Because we are living longer than previous generations, why not reinvent yourself to expand on what you used to do, take it to a higher level or do something completely new? Reinvention gives you the spark and motivation to seek new adventure, meet new friends and live to your full potential.
You may have punched a time clock for years working at a job, with little time to do anything else. Now is the time to prioritize the other areas of your life.
If you haven’t been taking care of your body, practice self-care. Spend time with friends or make new ones by joining groups who are into doing activities you enjoy.
Get out of the house, away from the computer or television, and be in nature. Eat fresh, healthy food that isn’t processed or contains preservatives – this will keep your body in tip-top shape. Put more fun in your life.
You may want to explore your consciousness through meditation, prayer or affirmations. Taking time for deep thought or contemplation will bring you new ideas, help to relieve stress, impart wisdom or help you focus on your goals. Spirituality is sometimes put on the wayside, but it is powerful.
When we stop learning, we start wasting away. There is always something new to learn, whether it’s as simple as trying a new cooking technique or solving a complicated equation.
If you can’t physically go to a class, there are a variety of educational portals online. You may discover new skills you never considered before and ways to reinvent yourself using those skills.
Determine what areas of your life need more focus. Write down ways they will enhance your life and spend time working on them. Developing a sense of purpose will balance your life and enrich it.
Which principles of longevity do you practice? Have you heard of ikigai before? Do you think you could incorporate it in your life? What habits are you developing to live your life with purpose? What are you doing to maintain vitality in your 60s? Let’s have a conversation in the comments below.
Rebecca Olkowski is a blogger, podcaster, and professional voice actor. She loves to travel, eat well, and find the joy in life. Rebecca is the founder of BabyBoomster.com. Her passion is to inspire fabulous women over 50 to enjoy vibrant, active good health, and to get out and experience what the world has to offer, even if it’s in their own backyard.