I have often wondered why it is that some people are so active and energetic well into the times of their lives that society defines as “Golden Years.” By definition, the term “Golden Years” feels limiting.
Undoubtedly, If I were to live my life by societal definitions, it would most definitely look very different!
During the deep dive into research for my book, I was honored to meet people well into their 80s and even 90s who explained with zest and vigor the traditional healing methods of their countries.
In the specific case of researching one of the Blue Zones, areas where people live active lives to 100 and beyond, my octogenarian host didn’t miss a beat for over 2 hours telling me the secrets to his longevity.
There is one fact that is undeniable. With the passage of time, we all grow older. That said, what we do within that time can have a big impact on how we actually “Age.” Although our chronological age says one thing, our biological age can say another. And vice versa.
It’s more than just genetics that can determine how we age. External factors can have a big impact.
One of those factors is societal definitions and expectations of aging. So often people may offer a compliment and then add “at your age” or “for your age.” It appears that societal expectations at every age are so indelible that they shape the very way aging happens…if we believe them.
In many cultures of the world as well as in the Blue Zones, “elders” are revered for their wisdom and stability and are an integral part of society. This societal honor and support undoubtedly fuel vitality with a true sense of belonging and contribution. This, in turn, has a positive effect on the aging process which I have witnessed in person.
The spark and energy in the eyes of an octogenarian as they talk about the activities, people and way of living that keep them young is contagious and inspiring!
Research has shown that when someone “retires,” cognitive decline occurs more rapidly. In the Blue Zone of Okinawa Japan, there is no word for retirement. Instead, they use the word Ikigai, which roughly translates to “living your purpose.” Moreover, it’s about feeling that what you are doing makes a difference in people’s lives.
And Ikigai can be diversified. It could be about work or raising a family. And it can also be about tending a garden to share with others or teaching things that bring a new perspective, inspiration or transformation.
Life is a beautiful journey that can be experienced fully when we allow ourselves to make the rest of our lives the best of our lives.
To Your Best and Highest,