Longevity advice from the Greek Blue Zone of Ikaria – Part 1

My wife and I were recently on holiday in the Greek Island of Ikaria, which in recent years has become famous as one of the world’s ‘Blue Zones’ where people regularly live into their 90’s and 100’s in good health and are leaving a lot of the rest of the world behind in terms of health and longevity. 

Long term human health is an interest of mine and I’ve written about it here at this site: thelifeextensionproject.com and below is a series of blog post exploring some advice I received from a 105 year old Ikarian lady called Ioanna.

Ioanna was born in 1911 and is still very sharp of mind at a huIkaria - Blue Zones - Diet advicendred and five years old, although her body is starting to go on her now and she walks with a zimmerframe, also she had an accident two years ago at 103 and her right shoulder has ceased up. Luckily I was able to give her a short Shiatsu treatment to help the pain in her shoulder and neck, which she hugely appreciated. She even started to call me Dr. Simon. 

Her advice on living a long and healthy life came in 3 parts. Primarily blog post 1 is about happiness and outlook on life, blog post 2 will be about diet and blog post 3 will be about the future of health for the young people of today

Oh well let’s call young people those under 70 or 80 for her. 

Happiness and outlook on life. 

This seems to be just as important to Joanna as her work and her diet. She had a very passionate view of the world and even at her rather advance age was sharp, witty, funny and very quick! She was happy to impoart her view of the world and give advice to the young (although she didn’t speak english so I had everything translated) 

Her advice was as follows. 

“It’s important to love the Universe, the Universe is life”

She said she stays awake at night thinking about the Universe and the wonders of the Cosmos. Joanna thinks this is an important part of her long term health and her ability to persevere through difficulties and to still be here a long time after many of her friends and family passed on. Longevity advice from the Greek Blue Zone of Ikaria 1

Other nuggets of her wisdom and advice:

She said “Don’t be jealous. Jealousy is what makes you ill” 

“If you’re not happy about other people then it’s your own unhappiness and so its jealousy, which is not good”

“Be happy for other people’s success. If other people are successful you should be happy for them” 

and 

“You shouldn’t resent their success because what does that get you? It just makes yourself unhappy! So just feel happy for them” 

and 

“When other people feel sad then feel sad too.” 

My understand of this is that it’s more about having appropriate feelings for other people around you, to say connected and not be separate from each other. It stands to reason that you shouldn’t feel happy about other people’s misfortune, or to see somebody whose life was better than yours and then gets worse and that makes you happy… It’s just the wrong way!

More of Ioanna’s advice was around money and posessions

she said “don’t accumulate money. Life here (ed: on Ikaria?) is not about making more money than you need. You can’t take it with you. Just have enough and to be able to live a happy, comfortable life. Having more than you need isn’t going to bring you any happiness.”

Longevity advice from the Greek Blue Zone of IkariaThis stands to reason. There is no point in spending your life acumulating weath and posessions without enjoying life itself. But I’m going to try to do both and enjoy the whole journey as much as possible!

Ioanna also said to make your own life. She was rather concern about a lot of young Greeks (in particular, as that’s where she lives and her frame of reference) who were living off their parents and being rather demanding and asking for money from them, expecting a lot from their families. She believes that “nobody owes you anything, so don’t expect others to look after you.” 

“You have to make your own life” and that “it’s important for you to be independent and stand on your own two feet”  

“Just have enough for a good life. You dont need to be spending your time accumulating and wanting more and more because also that is whats making you unhappy”

Seems to me an almost Buddhist philisophy for life, but it’s solid and makes good sense to me 🙂

Ioanna has a rather simple approach to life, she is a very straight forward woman who lives in quite a basic house, but she was still working at her trade as a weaver right up until the age of 105. She is an inspirational and quite a remarkable lady who has quite a passion for life even now!


Further blog posts are below, and please subscribe for updates or check back soon!

Blog post 2 is about Ioanna’s approach to diet

and blog post 3 is about her view on the young people of today!

Author: Simon Henderson - The Shiatsu Guy

London Based Shiatsu Therapist specialising in helping the fast relief of pain, tension and stress. Working in a number of central London clinics. Contact Simon on 07951 621 308 or email simon@theshiatsuguy.com

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