Michael and I are in Okinawa Japan this month studying the lifestyle and habits of the long-lived people here. Today we are in the village of Ogimi where there are more people living to be over a hundred than anywhere else in the world. The warm and smiling faces of the people here invite us to learn their ways and are open to sharing what has been passed down for many generations, including the practice of Yuimaaru which translates roughly to “warm-hearted and friendly cooperative effort.”
You may see Yuimaaru when a neighbor needs help with repairing his roof, harvesting his crop, or celebrating a special occasion. Many people from the village will come together to help in the effort, “many hands make light work,” but perhaps key to their longevity is it provides a chance for social interaction spending time with others and for friendships to blossom.
Yuimaaru is also apparent when large groups of the long-lived women in Ogimi get together to simply cheer on school children from the village in sporting activities. They are often not related to any of the children in the event, but will come out to support and mentor and spend time with the children of the village.
It is the very act of being a part of something greater than yourself, a mutual aid and reciprocity that gives comfort, joy and peace of mind as we age, especially to those who are living alone. By practicing Yuimaaru, the long-lived Okinawan never feel isolated or alone. This in turn gives them yet another reason to get up every day and celebrate their journey in life.
We can practice Yuimaaru in our daily lives by volunteering our time, helping others in need in a group or club effort, joining a non-profit organization in our own community or in our church. Begin today implementing the habit of Yuimaaru in your daily life, and you will not only add years to your life, you will live A Longer Healthy Life.
Diane Haworth and Michael Varbaek, Longevity Researchers www.ALongerHealthyLife.com