The pursuit of a healthy lifestyle can sometimes divert attention away from what is most important: having fun. It’s a reminder from the world’s oldest living person, Kane Tanaka, a vivacious 119-year-old woman residing in Fukuoka, Japan.
The caption reads: Tanaka did not mention a regular fitness routine or a precise food plan when questioned about the key to her longevity. Tanaka has consumed so much Coke throughout her life that the Coca-Cola company surprised her on her 119th birthday with two personalized bottles of her favorite beverage, which her great-granddaughter Junko Tanaka shared on Twitter.
So, what has kept Tanaka enthused and motivated even after he has reached the age of 100? It is not concentrating on the past, but rather focusing on the present moment, according to her grandson, Eiji Tanaka. “I don’t recall her discussing the past much,” he told CNN. “She’s really forward-thinking—she loves living in the moment.” Her family has also stated that she keeps her mind and body active by performing arithmetic, calligraphy, and staying curious. She did, in fact, work at her family’s store until she was 103 years old.
The connection between health, meaning, and happiness is well-established. In fact, four of the nine longevity pillars (qualities shared by residents in Blue Zones, where people regularly live to be 100) have nothing to do with diet or exercise. Longevity is bestowed to individuals who find meaning in their lives, handle stress, participate in their communities, and stay close to their families.
“Purpose leads to happiness, and happiness leads to greater health than unhappiness or indifference,” says Richard Honaker, MD, chief medical advisor at Your Doctors Online. Tanaka’s life has long been full of meaning—and she continues to learn, spend time with individuals she cares about, and develop her own mental power and curiosity on a daily basis.
All of this corresponds with information from The Human Longevity Project, a nine-part documentary series showcasing residents of the world’s longest-living and healthiest populations, as well as specialists, healers, and doctors. Working hard, creating meaningful connections, and reducing stress are all connected to living a long, healthy life, according to some of the primary conclusions from this project.
Another scientifically proven method for bringing happiness: companionship. According to one study, having good friends contributes to the link between health and happiness. You don’t need a large number of friends, but rather a few dependable people who make you happy.