Age Like an Okinawan

Senior Planet alerted me to a You Tube video of Dr. Andrew Weil talking about longevity in Okinawa. Many of us have read about “Blue Zones” or regions of the world known for centenarians. Many things have been written about the diets and philosophies of the people in these zones in hopes that we may emulate them.

Dr. Weil discusses how he has made several trips to Okinawa and has found many factors that may contribute to their people’s longevity. A couple of factors he mentions are healthy diet and physical activity. One factor he chose to emphasize, and that really caught my attention, is the cultural value placed on aging in Okinawa. He says the people there are not ashamed of aging and are considered valued members of their community. They are considered ” living treasures.” Dr. Weil argues that the extreme negative attitudes towards aging in our culture are what influences the way we age and contributes to the negative manifestations of aging we see. Food for thought?

Try to catch yourself when you are making negative self-talk about getting older. Things like ” I’m having a senior moment,” or when you have a ache or pain saying, ” Oh, I must be getting old.” I have heard 40 year olds making these remarks about getting older. Just think if you feel that way at 40, how will you feel at 60?

When we internalize our culture’s negative attitudes toward aging we can not help looking at ourselves negatively and feeling negative about getting older. I would like to age like an Okinawan and feel like a “treasure.” How about you?

8 thoughts on “Age Like an Okinawan

  1. JoAnne

    This makes me reconsider many things, including how I’ve thought I’d like to live to be at least 80 something, maybe 90. The reason I haven’t imagined living longer is that I assume I would not be in good health. Have I been brainwashed by my culture? By popular media? Just maybe I might enjoy hoeing my garden at 101. Something to consider!

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  2. Audrey Meltzer

    Thanks again, Deborah, for another terrific one. I, too, like Dr. Weil’s approach to ageing. I personally believe we’re sensitive beings who consciously and unconsciously pick up others’ belief systems – that, in effect, we’re all brain-washed to some degree or another. The ‘trick,’ I hope, is to be able to be aware, reflect, and sift through…culling the ‘good stuff’ and tossing out the negative messages. And coming up with our own combinations of solid values that include recognizing and respecting the intrinsic worth of people of all ages. A book I really appreciate is titled, “Healthy at 100” by John Robbins; Part I covers: The World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples. And included are The Centenarians of Okinawa!

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    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      Thanks Audrey. I think the negative messages about being old begin when we are children. It is so drummed in that by the time we become adults we have internalized all this negative stuff. Then as we watch ourselves get older in the mirror all the negative feelings start coming out. As we get older we practically have to shield ourselves from all the negative stuff bombarding us. It is good to read empowering messages and realize there are places that exist that do value age.

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  3. Audrey Meltzer

    Yes, I think the ‘drumming in’ is a form of brain washing. Other people’s belief systems which can include fear of ageing. I also think some cultures are more prone to this negative message which can start early on. I agree about practically having to shield ourselves more and more as we get older, and to having positive reinforcement of its opposite – empowering messages and exposure to places and cultures which value age.

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