I recently lost a dear friend, to kidney failure and blood transfusion complications. It was heart-wrenching. This guy was a quiet, gentle and focused giant, with a ready smile for every occasion. He was cut short in his prime, and left behind no wife or child – another pain-point for me. This brought on a lot of memories, of reaching out to old friends and trying to evaluate if I am actually living my purpose.
Some days ago, I stumbled on the word “Ikigai”. Wikipedia told me that
Ikigai (生き甲斐,) is a Japanese term for “a reason for being.” The word ‘Ikigai’ is usually refers to the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile. The word roughly translates to the “thing that you live for” but it also has the nuance of “the reason for which you wake up in the morning” similar to a daily purpose. Each individual’s ikigai is personal to them and specific to their lives, values and beliefs. It reflects the inner self of an individual and expresses that faithfully, while simultaneously creating a mental state in which the individual feels at ease. Activities that allow one to feel ikigai are never forced on an individual; they are often spontaneous, and always undertaken willingly, giving the individual satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life.
Then I found Thomas Oppong’s Medium article on the subject and understood a lot more. Thomas mentions Dan Buettner (who deserves another article on his own, about how he has made his passion his work), who studied hotspots of places where people lived the longest, and published books on this, with titles that included the phrase “Blue Zone”.
Buettner has been able to prove that applying his Blue Zone Principles to cities can improve the overall health and lifespan of its inhabitants. The key to success involved focusing on the ecology of health – creating a healthy environment rather than relying on individual behaviors. His first try in 2008, in Albert Lea, Minnesota was successful. Other cities and communities have applied the principles successfully too.
I know these applications happened in cities in a developed country (USA), but it got me thinking: what if we could work towards creating that healthy environment in Nigeria? What if we could study the principles, and herald it to our leaders for them to use as blueprints for the next four years?
They say that our country is so unique, no theory works out of the box in it, and I agree. What if we could derive a Nigerian version, that will also allow a family on any income level to embrace the tenets that would guarantee better health, and longer, more fulfilling lives?
The Blue Zone Principles promise results in such a short time, I wonder why we have not given it a try before now. If only our leaders were readers more often than spenders. I guess we can decide the next set, come 2019 – if our votes truly count.
As for me, I am going to spend a bit of time each day, trying to figure out a way to bring this about in my environment. Do you know anyone who can help kickstart a movement?
Image credit: Photo by Jordan Madrid on Unsplash