Thursday, April 23, 2009

Do the ton

It’s important to live life to its full potential. Here’s a list on the formula for a long life. It was proposed by 97-year-old expert physician Shigeaki Hinohara. This is a man who still chairs two large hospitals in Tokyo and has written around 150 books since his 75th birthday. They include Ongaku no Iyashi no Chikara (The Healing Power of Music), Shin Rojin o Ikiru (Living as a Senior Citizen), and Ikikata Jyozu (Good at Living) which has sold 1.2 million copies.

Not surprising that such wisdom comes from Japan. This is a country that is experiencing the impacts of an aging population before the rest of us. It will take 20 more years for Europe’s population to become as elderly as Japan’s population is today, so we can learn a lot from the Japanese experience of having fit, active, senior citizens.

Shigeaki Hinohara points out that the single factor shared by all people who live long lives is that none of them are overweight. He even claims that he never gets hungry because he focuses on his work. Now that we’ve got that out of the way...

1. Feel first. Energy comes from feeling good, not from eating sensibly or sleeping a lot. It’s your emotional state that drives your physical well-being.

2. Plan ahead. If you don’t believe in the future you can’t participate fully in it. Make a list of all the things you always wanted to do and start working your way through it. Write that novel, climb that mountain, go and teach in that village school. Fill out your diary for the next ten years. Book for the 2016 Olympic Games – whether it's in Chicago, Tokyo, Rio, or Madrid, make plans to be there.

3. Put off retirement. The current retirement age of 65 was set 50 years ago when average life-expectancy was a lot lower. However, while older people have wisdom and experience to contribute to any business, it’s crucial that young people have opportunity, and plenty of it. We have to create enterprises in the future that do both: make room for the wisdom of age to work alongside the energy of youth.

4. Share what you know. Sharing what you know has got to be the most inspiring, nurturing thing you can do. It may be great for the people you work with, but it also makes you feel great.

5. Carry your own stuff. Don’t let others carry your bags. A great way to keep focus on what is important is to carry it with you. Shigeaki instructs us to take the stairs. He takes them two at a time, and at 97.

There’s more but I want close with this great quote from Shigeaki Hinohara: “I still put in 18 hours, seven days a week, and I love very minute of it. I believed I was privileged to live, so my life must be dedicated to other people."