Okinawa vs United States
The average life expectancy for Americans has become increasingly low. Based on findings from evolutionary biologists, human bodies are built to last at least 120 years. In Okinawa, a lively island located off the coast of Japan, people are exceeding this standard. The Okinawans look at aging and longevity differently than we do in our Western civilization. They see aging as a way to balance and nurture our life’s energy or “ki” (chi). They combine a lifestyle of spiritual martial arts, mental balance or clarity, and a colorful diet. This article will show you how you can start living like an Okinawan and begin your journey towards a beautiful life.
Wisdom from the Okinawa People
First, let’s dive into the philosophy of the Okinawan people. According to the authors of The Okinawa Program, “the Okinawan philosophy affirms faith in humanity, a sincere belief that deep down all people are good, and it emphasizes both personal and group responsibilities. Okinawans believe that if someone fails, whether through bad luck or for any other reasons, there is an obligation on the part of others to help (Willcox et al., 2002).”
Do you think this could save our society? I do. I believe in the butterfly effect. I believe that one action can lead to significant change. One day in Target, I saw a young woman waiting in line. She was with her friend, and they were all dressed up to go out. For some reason, her friend left her alone in the checkout line. I tell myself to make a good moment out of this. When we made eye contact, I didn’t look away. I said, “I love that dress. It looks so good on you!” I was candid. She looked glowing in that dress, it was red with small flowers, and she curled her gorgeous golden hair to perfection. After my sincere compliment, she looked at me and shined. My kind words inspired an employee standing closer to her also compliment her dress. He said, “yes! That dress is lovely! I love the pattern!” I can’t control what she might have been thinking about herself or me before I said that. I couldn’t control what other people would say or do, so I controlled my actions. I chose to be kind. I decided to speak out of love. And believe it or not, the people around me– they chose it, too. It makes me wonder what else could happen if we treated our co-workers, customers, CEOs, and friends like this. How far could kindness spread in one afternoon?
According to Maile Proctor, being kind is scientifically proven to prevent illness, decrease stress and anxiety, and help you live longer. We’ve heard of the golden rule. We know to treat others with respect and kindness, regardless of their actions or opinions. So, when’s the last time you did this? Can you remember when you donated, volunteered, or opened the door for someone? Why are these things so important? Well, when we perform acts of kindness, it makes us feel good. It produces oxytocin, reducing pain in our bodies and lowering our blood pressure (Proctor, 2017). In a sense, when we choose to be kind, we choose to care more about our bodies. When we start to care about our bodies– the vessels helping others–we start reaching for the apple over the coffee. We start going to the doctor rather than putting it off for another year or two. We start making decisions that increase our likelihood of longevity. No longer are we trying to survive. We are beginning to live our lives to our most tremendous potential. We are changing our future by taking control of our present. And it all starts with being kind. Would you agree? 🙂
A brief history of Okinawa. Pelletier’s Karate Academy. (n.d.). Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://pelletierskarate.com/about-karate/brief-history-of-okinawa/. (map of Okinawa)
Proctor, M. (2017, March 21). Six science-backed ways of being kind is good for your health. Quiet Revolution. Retrieved November 1, 2021, from https://www.quietrev.com/6-science-backed-ways-being-kind-is-good-for-your-health/.
Willcox, B. J., Willcox, D. C., & Suzuki, M. (2002). The Okinawa Program: How the world’s longest-lived people achieve everlasting health–and how you can too. Clarkson Potter / Publishers. (Includes table at beginning)