Live Longer: What You Can Learn from Athletes and Why Japanese are the Healthiest in the World
As it turns out, people who had a strong sense of purpose in their lives lived longer than those who didn’t have a clearly defined purpose. Moreover, people who woke up each morning with clear goals for their life not only lived longer, they also lived better than their peers (higher quality of life).

When you’re an athlete, you wake up with a sense of purpose each morning. You know what you’re working toward (a championship), you know who you’re working for (your teammates), you know why you’re training so hard (to become your best).

Okinawa is the southernmost region of Japan and consists of thousands of tiny islands dotting the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Those islands happen to be the home of some of the healthiest people on the planet.

The Japanese have an average life expectancy of 83 years old, the highest in the world. In particular, the women are incredibly resilient with an average life span of 86 years, according to the World Health Organization.

But in Okinawa, the story is even more remarkable. Despite being the poorest prefecture in Japan, the residents of Okinawa have the “longest disability–free life expectancy in the world.”

There are many reasons, of course, but one of the most important is that Okinawans have a strong sense of purpose. Okinawans are known for maintaining a positive outlook on life and for pursuing their ikigai, which is a concept that means “reason for being” or “reason for waking up in the morning.”

Whether it be taking care of their grandchildren, working in the community, tending to a garden, or anything in between, each person has an ikigai. And as their long life spans reveal, having a sense of purpose is critical for your health and happiness.