why do some people know what they want, and have a passion for life while others do not know what to do in life! The now famous Japanese word IKI-GAI suggests the concept of happiness of always being busy. It explains the extraordinary longevity of the Japanese especially on the Island of Okinawa. There are more than 25 people above the age of 100 years for every 1 lac inhabitants. This is the highest average anywhere in the world. IKIGAI also questions our purpose of living.

What is the basic concept of LEGA’?

In addition to a healthy diet, simple life in the outdoors, green tea, and the subtropical climate is the ‘RIGA! that shapes the life of Japanese. There is incredible friendliness in the small town Oghni which has the highest longevity in the world. Here they treat everyone as brothers even if they have not met them before. From an early age, they practice yuimaaru or teamwork, and so are used to helping each other.

How can we translate the concept of MIGAI into the Indian context?

If we want to live a life long and trouble-free, the basic concept of Japanese philosophy needs to be followed. It would mean a diet that is balanced, having plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. Use sugar and salt very sparingly. Treat all your relatives and friends with dignity and respect. Avoid tobacco in all forms and drink alcohol very sparingly.

Can we increase our life expectancy by regular exercise?

Exercises unquestionably should be the most important aspect of our lives. They not only help you to reduce your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and reduce all forms of arthritis, but exercises also make you feel happy and provide you with a feel-good phenomenon. This is entirely due to the release of hormones known as endorphins.

What are some important messages from Japanese and others who have been supercentenarians?

Given the increased life expectancy in the world today, the number of supercentenarians may also rise in this world. A healthy and purposeful life could help us join their ranks. Misao who lived up to 117 years suggested that to live long you have to learn to relax. Maria who is 116 years never ate meat in her life. Jeane Cahnent who lived up to 122 years had a great sense of humor. She said on her 120th birthday that I see badly, I hear badly, I feel bad, but everything is fine. Walter at the age of 114 said that if you keep your mind and body busy, you will be around for a long time. Alexander Imich attributed his long life to never drinking alcohol. When asked about his secret of living so long his answer was “I do not know. I just haven’t died yet.

” Why should we have IKIGAI on our horizon?

Peaceful life in the countryside seems to be pretty common in those who had a long life. This may not be possible for all. However, even if you do not have to work, there has to be an IKIGAI or purpose in your life. A purpose that guides you throughout your life and encourages you to make things of beauty and utility for the community and yourself. How does the purpose of life, that is IKIGAI translate In our present-day medical system? We need to achieve our correct numbers. That would mean having our Blood pressure at 120/80, our blood glucose at fast-ing 100 mg and post-meal 160 mg and less, and our cholesterol below 190 mg. Diets are very low in sugar and salt and ideal body weight. Regular walking or exercising for at least 45 minutes daily and have regular medical checkups as per your family doctor to identify disease in its earliest stage so as to get treated early. What about mental health? Having a positive attitude, knowing your limitations and then having your targets set, being positive all the time crossing emotional barriers that do not help you in any way, and trying to learn something new irrespective of your age, will help you to live longer.

So what should be the IKIGAI of your life?

The purpose should be to live at least for 100 years in these modern times. Be happy to spread happiness, the purpose of life should be to help ourselves besides others, have a harmonious relationship with everyone, and continuously contribute to our community and country in some way or the other. Proper diet, exercise, avoiding smoking and alcohol, and being happy even in uncomfortable situations should be the way of our life. IKIGAI has taught the world the Japanese concept of living a long life full of happiness and a purpose. Let us make a beginning in this direction and target our age to at least 100 years.

Categories : Health

Dr Jay Deshmukh is Chief Physician and Director, Sunflower Hospital, Nagpur Honorary Physician to Honorable Governor of Maharashtra and PondicherryCentral. Dr Jay Deshmukh is an M.B.B.S., M.C.P.S., F.C.P.S., M.N.A.M.S., MD From Internal Medicine – Bombay and New Delhi.

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