Island Senior: Longevity and a sense of purpose
Posted September 17, 2022 at 11:56 am by Peggy Sue McRae
This past week, the world lost not only the longest serving British monarch, but at 96 years old a woman who embodied longevity itself. Queen Elizabeth II had plenty of healthy habits. She started her days with a pot of Earl Grey tea, a bowl of Special K cereal, and a bagpipe serenade. She rode horses, walked her dogs, and eschewed bread and pasta, avoiding starch. She also enjoyed venison burgers, chocolate, and gin martinis.
Blue Zone longevity studies focus on communities throughout the world with particularly long-lived populations. Centenarians living in “blue zones” areas — places where people were living longer lives with more vitality — have a strong sense of purpose throughout their lives. The Okinawans call it ikigai and the Nicoyans call it plan de vida. For both, it translates to why I wake up in the morning.
Queen Elizabeth’s purpose was clear. Due to her uncle’s abdication followed by her father’s poor health, Elizabeth’s destiny was thrust upon her at a young age. On her 21st birthday she made her commitment clear stating, “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service.” At the age of 25 she became Queen of the United Kingdom. She kept her promise to steadfastly serve her people for the next 70 years.
One of the most important duties of the British monarch is asking a new Prime Minister to form a government. On Sept. 6 the Queen accepted the resignation of Boris Johnson, her 14th Prime Minister, and asked her 15th Prime Minister, Liz Truss, to form a new government. Two days later the Queen passed away. She died with her boots on, you could say, fulfilling the promise that she made in her youth.
Few of us live lives of such notable consequence. Yet, our purpose can be as simple as showing kindness to others. What is it that gets you up in the morning?
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