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The World’s Oldest Woman Reveals Her Secrets To Long Life

The World’s Oldest Woman Reveals Her Secrets To Long Life

Misao Okawa, until April 1, 2015, when she passed away peacefully in her sleep from heart failure at age 117, was the world’s oldest woman. She was born on March 5, 1898 and lived in Osaka Japan. When asked about her secret to long life, she replied that she ate delicious food.

Perhaps the most obvious factor contributing to a long life is good nutrition, but there must be a combination of things that will promote a long and healthy life. Perhaps Misao Okawa embodied the perfect combination of excellent genetics coupled with behavior and lifestyle, which contributed to her long life. In fact, it is widely known that the Japanese generally have long lives that are often relatively healthy. There are a number of factors which contribute to why the Japanese have such longevity, including healthy diets, an equal and cohesive society combining both traditional and ancient customs with ultra-modern lifestyle, values, and technology. They have universal health care and the people tend to look after one another, especially within families, where the younger generation will care for the aged.

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Here are some of the secrets that may have contributed to Misao Okawa’s very long life.

Diet

Misao Okawa was quoted as saying that her main secret to a long life was “eating delicious things,” including beef, noodles, and rice. It is widely recognized that the Japanese diet, consisting mostly of fish, rice, fruit, and vegetables is not only delicious, but incredibly healthy. Nutritionist blogger Catherine Saxelby says:

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“The traditional Japanese diet, with its emphasis on vegetables, seafood, soy, clear broth, rice, green tea and seaweed, is a semi-vegetarian diet with less fat, less sugar and more antioxidants…

In the midst of a global obesity epidemic, the Japanese have the lowest obesity rates in the developed world, as well as lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and some (but not all) cancers.” Catherine Saxelby.

Rest

Misao Okawa once told interviewers that sleeping and relaxing were important to living a long life. Countless studies have shown that insomnia and sleep disturbance accelerates as we age. Learning to relax by having long, restful, and quality sleep allows the body and mind to function optimally. Sleep improves your heart health and reduces the risk of heart attack. It boosts your immune system, improves your memory, lowers your risk of stroke, makes you happier and reduces depression, as well as a number of other health benefits. Rest is a huge contributing factor to a long life.

Exercise

Japanese people stay active. Radio Calisthenics (Taiso) has been practiced in Japan for decades. Basic stretching and movement exercises are broadcast widely, accompanied by piano music, and as much as 20% of the population, regardless of age, participates first thing in the morning. It happens in workplaces, schools, and in the community, and is a great way for people to keep fit. Exercise is a very important factor in maintaining health of the body and mind and living a long life.

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Moderate alcohol consumption

Surprisingly, moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages does have some health benefits. In Japan, people drink Sake, which is fermented rice wine. Perhaps balancing the risks and benefits of alcohol consumption is a factor in having a long life.

Universal health care

In Japan, whether you are employed, unemployed, or retired, you are covered by one of the tiers of health insurance. It ensures equality of access, which means nobody will ever be denied health care, regardless of their age, income, or location. Japan’s spending on health care is around half of that of US expenditures on public or private health care. It demonstrates that the universal health care system in the long run ensures people need it less.

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Social equality and cohesion

Japanese society is made up of both ancient and traditional customs, intersected with ultra-modern and technologically advanced culture. In an article about longevity in Japan, Jamie Anders discusses the research conducted by Shiro Horiuchi that outlines the way in which Japanese people value group cohesion and community spirit. He argues that they have high self esteem and therefore better health because they value a sense of belonging and a strong group orientation. In this vein, they work together to live longer lives.

Featured photo credit: immortal.org via immortal.org

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Diane Koopman

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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