Day 23 of 31-Day Series “Your Last Health Resolution”
I’ve studied a lot of research pertaining to longevity.  And researchers have discovered much in the past 15 years.  Perhaps the most compelling study of longevity involves the world’s largest concentration of centenarians (people living over 100 years) in Okinawa, Japan.
Dr. Bradley Willcox, a geriatrician at Harvard Medical School, co-leads the Okinawa Centenarian Study.  He has been studying the group for the past 25 years.  He attributes the health and longevity of the population to four lifestyle factors:
  1. A low-calorie, plant-based diet
  2. Regular exercise
  3. A strong spiritual commitment
  4. A positive outlook on life

He describes the factors like legs of a chair.  One is not more important than the others.  “If you don’t have those legs in balance, the chair will topple over,” he says.

Family Praying Before DinnerOkinawans have a strong sense of spirituality.  According to Willcox, they pray almost daily in their homes.  Their prayer and meditation has allowed them to manage their stress and maintain a positive perspective.

And Okinawans haven’t been immune to crises.  They’ve faced countless wars over the years.  And since WWII, the United States has exported much of our cultural way of life to the islands.  But the elders have learned how to minimize stress in the midst of it all.

When surveyed in the prime of life, the elders scored low in feelings of “time urgency” and “tension” and high in “self-confidence”.  Islanders live by what’s referred to as “Okinawa time,” which means nothing starts as promptly as scheduled.  They value moderation, optimism, and adaptability. 

Willcox points out that many of their activities connect the body and the mind.  Even physical activities like tai chi, light martial arts, and traditional dance have a spiritual component.  And in many of those activities, they participate with others.

The Okinawan way of life gives us something to ponder.  Perhaps you already have a spiritual foundation in your life and enjoy the fruit of prayer, meditation, and corporate worship.  Or maybe you’re still questioning and searching.  I think both are great places to be.  Continuing your spiritual journey will have a greater impact than you or I can comprehend.

I’ll leave you with this biblical proverb to consider:

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.  This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”