To care for our wellbeing means nurturing not only our body, but also our mind, heart and spirit—in other words, our whole being. We may care for our body, mind and heart, but how do we revitalise our spirit? New research shows one of the keys to a long and well-lived life has a spiritual dimension.
According to Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zone, spirituality and a sense of purpose contribute to longevity and quality of life. Buettner researched four extraordinary communities living with health and vitality well into their 8th, 9th and 10th decades. These centenarians live in Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), Loma Linda (California, USA) and Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica). Possessing a strong sense of purpose, being needed and being able to contribute in a meaningful way gives a sense of peace and happiness that rejuvenates the spirit. Costa Ricans call it plan de vida, and Okinawans call it ikigai, meaning ‘why I wake up in the morning’. We are learning from these centenarians that finding our ikigai and immersing ourselves in it gives a sense of fulfilment and enjoyment. It may be an activity such as learning a musical instrument or a new language, or simply doing the best you can each day to make sure your children and grandchildren grow up well.
As well as a sense of purpose, most of The Blue Zone centenarians had an unwavering belief in a Higher Power, a spiritual dimension. And each community followed their own traditions that reflected their beliefs. For one community, coming together weekly as a community provided a sanctuary in time for rest, reflection and spiritual renewal.
Taking the time to reflect and meditate on the beauty that surrounds us, and knowing our purpose in life, or ikigai, will nurture our spirit and help us live a purposeful and healthy life.