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10 Secrets to a Long Life, from Japan’s 105-Year-Old Expert

Damien Thomas



secret long life

We all want to live long, happy and healthy lives. Most of us can list off a few things that are associated with longevity: Eating well, exercising, taking care of your mind and body, etc. But, hearing what can really make a difference from someone who has ‘lived through it’ is like taking a glimpse behind a very important curtain!

Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara was one of Japan’s most prestigious doctors, authors, and an expert in what it takes to live a long and fulfilling life. While Dr. Hinohara passed away in July 2017, he was 105 years old at the time. When he was the ‘young’ age of 97, he gave an interview to the Japan Times, outlining several characteristics of what it took to live a long and full life.

Of course, none of us have every little secret to living longer. But, Dr. Hinohara was clearly an expert in that particular field, as well as both mental and physical health. His suggestions on longevity should not be taken for granted. Below, you will find several of his tips that you can put into practice in your own life immediately.

1. Eat for Life

You are probably not surprised that ‘eating well’ is high on this list, but you may not realize just how important it really is. Dr. Hinohara suggested that all people who live a long life take pride in their diet, and are not overweight. Enjoy your food, and don’t be afraid to treat yourself, but be conscious of what you are putting into your body.

2. Go the Long Way

We live in a world where it is far too easy to take shortcuts and look for quick fixes. Instead, take the scenic route in every possible way. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, make multiple trips to and from your office by foot, etc. Anything you can do to get your body moving throughout the day will benefit you.

3. Plan Ahead

One of Dr. Hinohara’s best tips was to stay busy. This is not to say you should not take time for yourself, but don’t relax to the point of complacency. Plan ahead, keep a schedule for yourself, and set goals so you can always stay busy and be active.

4. Keep Working

People are retiring at a younger age than ever before. According to Dr. Hinohara, retaining a strong work ethic is extremely important. Retirement is fine, but it should not be something that’s taken advantage of at a young age. If you are mentally and physically able to keep working, Dr Hinohara recommended to do it for as long as possible!

5. Give Back

Whether you work or not, and no matter how old you are, contributing to society is essential. If you are retired or don’t have to work, why not consider volunteering? No one is obligated to make constant contributions to the world, so doing it by choice consistently is what makes it such a powerful thing.

6. Share the Wisdom

Life is about continual learning, and some of the best things we learn come from other people. If you have already lived a long life, or if you have been through certain experiences that could help others, don’t be afraid to share that wonderful knowledge. Wisdom that gets passed down from person to person can stick with someone far easier than something that they read from a book. There are some life lessons that can only be taught by people who have experienced them already. Spread your knowledge to others as much as possible.

7. Trust More Than Medicine

Even though Dr. Hinohara spent years studying medicine, he strongly believed that we should focus on, and see the value in multiple disciplines. This includes liberal arts, visual arts, languages, and more. Science itself may not be the answer to every question in the world, and it is important to recognize that throughout our lives.

8. Let Go of Materialism

If you spend your life obsessing over material possessions or how much you can ‘get,’ there is a good chance that you will always feel unfulfilled. You can’t take anything with you, so why hold onto so much in life? Resist your urges to acquire more and more. Instead, find other uses for your wealth and possessions that might feel more rewarding in the long run.

9. Find Your Heroes

Everyone should have a role model or inspiration to look up to in life. Dr. Hinohara was that inspiration for many people, but he, too, had his own role models. By finding someone whom you trust and look up to, you can consistently use him or her as a guide. Whenever you are feeling stuck, uninspired, or in some kind of trouble, you can use that model’s words and advice to help you to get you out of your rut.

10. Have Fun

Dr. Hinohara believed in the childlike aspect of fun, especially when it came to things like healing and recovery. In the hospital he worked for, they played music and offered things like animal therapy and art classes. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of ‘being a grown up,’ that we often forget to include more areas of fun in our lives. But, a little bit of fun can go a long way for both your mental and physical state. Give into that childlike wonder every now and then; you may benefit from it more than you think!

Because of his age and experiences, Dr. Hinohara was certainly an expert in longevity and living a fulfilling life. While you can take his suggestions as opinions, they certainly shouldn’t be ignored. By following a few simple life lessons, and perhaps making some changes to your own life, you can find fulfillment in your everyday routine, and hopefully live a long and happy life.