Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara is Japan’s oldest practicing clinician at 104-years-old, and is thought of by many as one of Japan’s national treasures.
He has authored over 150 books, and one of his best-sellers which topped 1.2 million copies sold is titled, “Living Long, Living Good.” He was born in 1911, and after the second world war Dr. Hinohara established a world-class hospital; St. Luke’s International Hospital, and also a highly sought after college; St. Luke’s College of Nursing, both of which are located in Tokyo, Japan. His organizations are ranked as two of the top within Japan, and his 14 pieces of advice on how to live a long and happy life just might be worth listening to.
1. Energy comes from feeling good, not from eating well or sleeping a lot.
Dr. Hinohara explains that children often have so much fun that they forget to eat and sometimes even to sleep. Staying youthful requires that we follow this example from children and have very few rules about mealtimes and bedtimes for ourselves. Stay focused on having fun.
2. Don’t be overweight.
Dr. Hinohara’s research found that the people who tend to live the longest are not overweight. He himself maintains a balanced diet, and he also implements olive oil into his diet regularly, and says that it helps to maintain the arteries and also creates healthy skin.
3. Always plan ahead.
The good doctor mentions that he always keeps a full schedule, often times planned an entire year in advance. He gives lectures, helps hospitals with their projects and helps many students who seek his advice.
4. You don’t have to retire.
Continuing to work is important when it’s something you love to do, and Shigeaki thinks people should only retire when they’re much older than 65.
5. Share what you know.
On average, Dr. Hinohara gives over 150 lectures a year, often times to public schools and younger children. Giving back to the community gives him joy, enjoy joy to stay standing for the entire 90 minutes at 104 years old, he says.
6. Don’t believe everything your doctor says or recommends.
Dr. Hinohara believes that doctors can’t cure everyone and everything. He recommends that patients get personal and ask their own physicians whether or not they would want their own loved ones to go through the recommended procedures that they advise you to do. If they don’t, then perhaps seeking alternative therapies is a better idea. Dr. Hinohara believes that music and animal therapies support healing in ways not yet recognized by the medical community.
7. In order to stay healthy, always take the stairs and carry your own belongings.
Japan is a place with escalators and elevators at every turn, but Dr. Hinohara chooses to get that extra exercise and take the stairs.
8. Be inspired.
The poem “Abt Vogler” by Robert Browning provided deep inspiration for Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara throughout his life. The poem speaks of drawing a circle so big that there is no way you can finish it while you are still alive. You can only see the arch, the rest is beyond your vision, yet it is always there in the distance.
9. Pain is mysterious.
He believes the best way to relieve pain is by forgetting it through having fun. He explains that if a child has a toothache, after he begins playing a game with that child, they immediately forget the pain. At his hospital St. Luke’s, they offer animal therapy, art classes and music therapy, all designed to focus on the creative and fun aspects of life, and meeting the deeper, more cerebral and spiritual needs of patients.
10. Don’t go overboard amassing material possessions.
He says that no one knows when they run out of time, and we won’t be taking anything material with us.
11. Science alone cannot cure or help people.
Science lumps all humans together medically in the same category, however illness varies individual to individual. Dr. Hinohara belives that each illness is unique and connected to each patients own emotional state and their heart. To be able to cure their illnesses, they need more liberal and visual arts, not just prescriptions and pills.
12. Life is most unpredictable.
Dr. Hinohara himself has lived through many traumatic experiences, but by viewing these experiences as experiments while going through them, he discovered that his body could slow down and adapt to difficult situations.
13. Find a role model.
A main role model for Dr. Hinohara was his father, who studied at Duke University in the US back in 1900. He says that we should strive to achieve more than our role models ever achieved, quite an inspiring take on life. Whenever he feels stuck, the good doctor asks himself how would his role models handle the situation or approach the problem.
14. It’s wonderful to live long.
Dr. Hinohara assures us that it is truly wonderful to live a long life. He recommends that our later years should be spent seeking to serve society in whatever way we can. Dr. Hinohara has been volunteering his time since the age of 65. He continues to work 18 hours a day, seven days each week, and he truly enjoys every minute of it.