Everyone wants to know the secret to a long and happy life, without having to constantly worry about being cautious over every aspect of actually living it. Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, who lived until he was 105, believed that the secret lies in a few simple and basic principles, one of which includes retiring later.
Dr Shigeaki Hinohara built the foundations of Japanese medicine and played a hand in making Japan the world leader in longevity. As a physician, chairman emeritus of St. Luke’s International University, and honorary president of St. Luke’s International Hospital, he was qualified in announcing his guidelines of living a long and healthy life.
In an interview with Japan Times journalist Judit Kawaguchi, he explained what he believed to be basic principles to living a long and healthy life. One of these included retiring much later than age 65. He explained in the interview that the retirement age in Japan was 65 at a time when the average life expectancy was just 68. This led him to believe that now that people are generally living much longer, with the life expectancy in Japan now being 84 years, people should be retiring at a much later age.
Before Hinohara died, just last month on July 18 in Tokyo, he continued to treat patients whilst working 18 hour days at the age of 105. Kawaguchi, who considered Hinohara her mentor, told the BBC, “He believed that life is all about contribution, so he had this incredible drive to help people, to wake up early in the morning and do something wonderful for other people. This is what was driving him and what kept him living. He always had today’s goals, tomorrow’s, and the next five years.”
Hinohara’s other key guidelines for living well included:
Worry less about eating well or getting more sleep, and have fun. “We all remember how as children, when we were having fun, we often forgot to eat or sleep. I believe that we can keep that attitude as adults, too. It’s best not to tire the body with too many rules such as lunchtime and bedtime.”
Don’t blindly follow what your doctor says. “When a doctor recommends you take a test or have some surgery, ask whether the doctor would suggest that his or her spouse or children go through such a procedure. Contrary to popular belief, doctors can’t cure everyone. So why cause unnecessary pain with surgery? I think music and animal therapy can help more than most doctors imagine.”
If you want to live long, don’t be overweight. “For breakfast I drink coffee, a glass of milk, and some orange juice with a tablespoon of olive oil in it. Olive oil is great for the arteries and keeps my skin healthy. Lunch is milk and a few cookies, or nothing when I am too busy to eat. I never get hungry because I focus on my work. Dinner is veggies, a bit of fish and rice, and, twice a week, 100 grams of lean meat.”
Always take the stairs and carry your own belongings. “I take two stairs at a time, to get my muscles moving.”
To conquer pain, have fun. “Pain is mysterious, and having fun is the best way to forget it. If a child has a toothache, and you start playing a game together, he or she immediately forgets the pain. Hospitals must cater to the basic need of patients: We all want to have fun. At St. Luke’s we have music and animal therapies, and art classes.”
I am Jess Murray, wildlife conservationist, photographer and writer. I like to document the natural world and create awareness through my writing so that your future can be sustainable and positive. Follow my Facebook page and Instagram account to be part of the journey.