AROUND THE WORLD IN 8O YEARS

ELLE (UK) - - Elle Play -

HOW OTHER CUL­TURES LIVE LONG AND PROS­PER

THE NEW RAI­SON D’ÊTRE

For­get hygge and lagom. When it comes to transat­lantic as­pi­ra­tional liv­ing, it’s now all about Ja­pan’s iki­gai, pro­nounced ick-ee-guy, mean­ing ‘a rea­son for be­ing’, and the sup­posed source of Ja­panese peo­ple’s long life (83.7 years, to be pre­cise*). So, how do you find your iki­gai, your pur­pose for liv­ing? ‘In Ja­panese cul­ture, there is an em­pha­sis on the val­ues of child­hood,’ says Ken Mogi, au­thor of The Lit­tle Book of Iki­gai. ‘The ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the val­ues of be­ing young has given birth to ex­cel­lent anime, manga and game works. In Ja­pan, the knack of beau­ti­ful age­ing is equated with keep­ing your in­ner child alive. That is the great se­cret of the Ja­panese cul­ture.’ Here, Ken ex­plains the five pil­lars of iki­gai and how you can find yours.

PIL­LAR 1: START SMALL

Peo­ple tend to think in big terms, but ev­ery­thing ac­tu­ally starts small. You can dis­cover your iki­gai by find­ing lit­tle things that you like to do. Do­ing some­thing, even if it’s small, ac­ti­vates the brain’s mo­tor cir­cuits, re­in­forc­ing the synap­tic con­nec­tions be­tween neu­rons, which keeps your brain ro­bust and young.

PIL­LAR 2: RE­LEASE YOUR­SELF

If you have too much stress, you can’t live a long and happy life. The ma­jor­ity of stress comes from the re­la­tion­ship with other peo­ple; if you’re con­cerned about your­self too much, you’ll be dis­ap­pointed when other peo­ple don’t be­have ac­cord­ing to your ex­pec­ta­tions. Some­times, things don’t turn out as you would ex­pect. The ad­he­sion to the ‘self’, there­fore, will cause stress. Re­leas­ing your­self will dra­mat­i­cally re­duce your stress lev­els, and en­hance your per­for­mance, since you can get into the flow state in which you for­get your­self and con­cen­trate on what you’re do­ing.

PIL­LAR 3: HAVE SUS­TAIN­ABIL­ITY

Hap­pi­ness de­pends on many fac­tors, so it’s es­sen­tial to find a har­mo­nious re­la­tion­ship be­tween them. Achiev­ing har­mony makes your life sus­tain­able. Har­mony means that you’re able to rely on a spec­trum of things as sources of joys. If one source fails for some rea­son, you can shift to another, thus mak­ing your good life sus­tain­able.

PIL­LAR 4: FIND THE JOY IN LIT­TLE THINGS

This is a creative process, and Ja­pan has tra­di­tion­ally put fo­cus on this as­pect of hu­man cog­ni­tion. Rather than de­riv­ing ev­ery­thing from a cen­tral goal, you should ap­pre­ci­ate the lit­tle joys in life, with­out nec­es­sar­ily ask­ing what the or­gan­i­sa­tional re­la­tions be­tween them are. This will make your life more free, flex­i­ble and ro­bust.

PIL­LAR 5: STAY IN THE MO­MENT

In the tra­di­tion of Zen Buddhism, ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the here and now has been a cen­tral theme. In a con­tem­po­rary con­text, it can be re­lated to the con­cept of mind­ful­ness, which is prac­tised by com­pa­nies as a means to pro­mote cre­ativ­ity.

AND ELSE­WHERE…

BEI­JING’S DANC­ING GRANNIES

As a way to keep fit and so­cialise, re­tired women in Bei­jing take to the city’s parks and break into syn­chro­nised dance rou­tines set to loud pop mu­sic. It seems to be work­ing: the United Na­tions say that by 2030, there will be 360 mil­lion Chi­nese peo­ple over the age of 60.

THE PIOPPI DIET

Orig­i­nat­ing from a tiny fish­ing vil­lage in south­ern Italy of­ten cited as the health­i­est in the world, the 21-day Pioppi diet (con­sist­ing fish, nuts, no sug­ars or re­fined carbs, and a small glass of wine a day) was the sub­ject of a best­selling wellness book. The Pioppi res­i­dents have a life ex­pectancy of 87, too.

TIN­DER FOR OVER-FIFTIES

Google ‘Tin­der for se­niors’ and up comes Stitch. A ‘com­pan­ion­ship’ app with the tagline ‘be­cause ev­ery­one needs com­pany’, it aims to con­nect over-fifties who are look­ing to make friends and share ex­pe­ri­ences.

HANG­OVERS AND HEAR­ING AIDS

Hol­land has started hous­ing stu­dents look­ing for ac­com­mo­da­tion with old peo­ple in care homes. Hu­man­i­tas, the nurs­ing home in Deven­ter, an hour east of Am­s­ter­dam, holds wheel­chair races, Snapchat tu­to­ri­als and even beer pong.

IRIS APFEL:

A LEG­END FOR

OUR TIME

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