This is the third and final part of the distilled wisdom of 105 year old Blue Zone lady of Ikaria; longevity advice from the Greek Blue Zone on diet, lifestyle and happiness.
So part 3 of the series is on health and longevity according to the 105 year old Ikarian lady called Ioanna who we met on our recent summer holiday to the Greek island of Ikaria.
Ioanna only speaks Greek, so I had my wife (who speaks Greek) ask her some questions for me and translate the answers.
The main think I wanted to know was what Ioanna’s view was on the chance of the young people of today living as long as her.
I wanted to know if she though we young folk (anyone under sixty?) were making any mistakes that might jeopardise our chances of a ripe old age
I wanted to know what advice she would give us youngsters to reach the same age as her
She said that people born today had every chance of every living as long as her,
she says “why not?!”
The interesting thing was that to her it wasn’t particularly amazing thing that she’d lived as long as she had, that is was just her normal life. But from my experience of spending time with her, I felt that the most important thing was her attitude; that she still enjoyed life, wanted to be here and that she’d never given up on life.
She’s still appreciating and enjoying every minute of life in quite an amazing way. She enjoyed interactions with people in a very open and genuine way, even random house-callers like us and another lady who rocked up while we were there
Ioanna said “It’s about living your own life.
“Don’t expect anything from the world, don’t expect anything from your parents”
and that “nobody owes you anything”, that essentially life is what you make of it.
Ioanna was big on taking responsibility for yourself, she said
“you have to make your own destiny, it’s your own life and you have all the possibilities in your hand, it’s up to you to deal with it!”
This seems to be a fundamental thing for Joanna, that its a kind of ‘Will to Live’ that is important, that if you want to live then you will. It’s more about your desire to live than anything you’re specifically doing.
That seems to be her way or philosophy of life, although she doesn’t seem to be self destructive. She’s not actively doing things that are bad for her. Ioanna seems to have limited or eliminated any overtly harmful habits or practices. I didn’t ask but she didn’t seem to be a smoker so we can assume she was a non-smoker, which is relatively rare is Greece, so that will certainly have helped her.
Along with not smoking, she was also not much of a drinker, she doesn’t eat a lot of meat or any fried food, so that is all a part of it.
Anyway, back to Ioanna’s advice. She said that you should have a good relationship. She was big on quality relationships!
she said “don’t be distracted by others”
So this can be maybe taken as the post-modern obsession where the grass is always greener and always looking around for the better relationship rather than working in what you have, and it seems to Ioanna that this has been very important in her life.
Love is a big thing for Ioanna. She said love for others, other people, but also love for the universe, the cosmos!
With the great energy that she had spent a lot of time thinking about the wonders of the universe.
She said she’d lay awake at night thinking about the world, the universe and just the wonders of it all (what exactly was a little lost in translation I think). Ioanna also thought it wasn’t good to spend too much time thinking about yourself, being selfish and self-centred.
Instead she said think about the universe, there is this amazing, wonderful thing out there thats for her a miraculous phenomenon that was amazing and glorious.
So Ioanna is all about the bigger perspective, getting over the ‘me, me, me’ culture that we live in now…
Ioanna said she listens to the inner music that’s playing. She said she hears melodies and symphonies in her head, choirs and orchestras. She sang a little of the music in her head and made her care-worker laugh because Ioanna doesn’t have the most amazing voice, but she’s got the most amazing spirit!
Ioanna regularly lays awake at night thinking just about life, the universe and everything, And I think for her that it’s really important just to have this fascination with the universe and know there’s plenty of reasons to keep going with life.
So she gave her own answers, her own take on things, not actually what I thought she would say at all, but she has definitely got a passion for life and I hope you feel that too.