I know it sounds cliché, but it really DOES take a village! This has been on my mind a lot recently as I recently finished reading IKIGAI, The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, by Hector Garcia and Frances Miralles. It talks about these small villages in Japan that have the most centenarians there: people that live over 100 years old. They studied the lifestyle of these people and found there were 4 main things that all had in common.
1) They all had a passion that they discovered and loved, and continued to do into their golden years. Whether it was teaching, writing, painting, working with people etc. and they all spent time on these “passion” projects every day. Which provided them with purpose in their lives, and they always continued to learn and discover new things.
2) They ate until they were 80% full. They never ate until they were stuffed, instead they eat enough to satisfy their hunger.
3) Activity was built into their daily lives. 100% of these centenarians had their own small gardens they that tended to on a daily basis. They walked everywhere and their villages were geared towards walking versus driving.
4) The villages had “social pods” where there was an activity director that planned nightly activities for the residents. Every night there was a reason to gather and celebrate. Either for dancing, eating, talking, game playing, karaoke or whatever the social activity director planned. Everyone truly enjoyed spending time in community together, which then fostered a sense of family, trust and community.
When I reflect on my personal life, I find it hard to build community even within my small Lowry neighborhood. Not due to lack of desire among myself and my neighbors, what I have found is that most families are so tired from the workday/week, that most don’t want to gather after work. Many families and individuals just want to decompress from the day, which leads them to watch TV and buy fast food.
Many of us don’t have the time or bandwidth to plan activities. It is hard to do things spontaneously as most of our weekends over scheduled. Regardless, I am still grateful for my neighbors and my neighborhood. I have faith that with a little bit of energy and intention we can all create our own little American villages.