The average Okinawan inhabitant has fifteen friends. In contrast, the average American statistically has only a friend and a half. Could this be related to the longevity of the Okinawans?

How many friends influence our longevity?

Sometimes we have a health or financial problem, sometimes we need advice, and sometimes we need an even more tangible form of help. Then, by having friends, we can survive. We can reach for help, on this planet no organism has yet achieved complete independence, everyone needs someone else. Think of someone powerful, it could be a Special Forces soldier walking through dark streets and poor neighborhoods at night. Do you believe his strength and agility can protect him from attacks or injury? It is enough for two or three average people, armed with baseball bats, to surprise him. The first strike may be the last. Despite his strength, he won’t even have time to react, solitude is a weakness.

But when instead of going alone, he chooses to go with a few of his friends, attacking all of them, even suddenly, involves a significant risk on the attackers’ side. Even if someone is knocked down, the others will react and will not allow the opponents to finish the wounded per[1]son. Even if there were more attackers, few people would dare to attack with unpredictable odds.

In the modern world people seem to be unaware of that. They obsessively strive to improve themselves like this soldier but they will still remain completely helpless in certain situations. Life is full of such cases, it’s why we may feel the sort of constant stress that works negatively on our bodies. In the past people created bigger tribes and sometime later we had multigenerational families. Currently people are even more divided and usually live in couples (with children or not), and more and more people want to be singles.

Our economy, based on money and independence, creates people who can’t build healthy relationships but are good consumers and workers, as they have to work harder when they are single.

Preparing a dinner for a family of ten does not cost much more than preparing a dinner for a family of three, so you don’t have to earn as much money as a member of such a family to meet all the monthly maintenance costs. A large family can save more and build up a lot of capital, staying relaxed in the process. Rich families with a long tradition know about this, they are concerned with staying together and spreading their influence. Meanwhile, people who are more divided have greater hardships and costs of living because they have to bear it all themselves. If life is getting harder for them, they believe the solution is to work harder, risk more, or take a second job.

The people of Okinawa live more peacefully and for much longer because stress and anxiety do not exhaust them every day. This anxiety stimulates unfavorable hormones, such as cortisol, which, in excess and secreted every day, causes destructive effects on the body and maybe one of the causes of premature death. If the body is not regenerating effectively, it ages faster.

Humans are also energetic beings. Not only blood flows through us, but various invisible energies, including emotional ones. If you are a sports fan it is easy for you to imagine the emotions that accompany fans when they watch sport games together and what a source of joy it is. The hardest thing is trying to experience similar emotions when watching a football match alone in your house. Athletes need fans, and fans need other fans to express their emotions to let the energy flow from the inside to the outside and vice versa. When we are alone, we have no one to share these feelings with and the sup[1]pressed energy, whether positive or negative, is harmful.

If we have anyone around, it is much easier to let our emotions flow, the most powerful energetic circulations happen when we are in larger groups. Everyone has something to say, and everyone will add something from himself, a different point of view, a different personality, and many more interesting things. That is why group meetings are the most dynamic. There is more random[1]ness, more surprise, joy, less focus on a single person, and more relaxation and distraction for everyone. In a larger group we become fully human, and the vitality observed during such meetings stays longer in our bodies and in our minds. It stimulates so many processes in our body that the healing power of such meetings are invaluable. Unfortunately for most people it is just nicely spent time, some people don’t cherish it enough.

Other people stimulate our health in other ways.

Being among a variety of people is also an opportunity to get inspired. Each of our friends or acquaintances has certain advantages and disadvantages, and so if we have regular contact with them, it is not by accident that we remember what we can do differently in life.

We can see that Danny smokes too much, which re[1]minds us not to do it ourselves. We can see that Maria is very cordial to her grandchildren, and we neglect ours a bit so she’s a reminder and an inspiration to arrange family meetings more often. We look at Andy and see that he moves great during tennis games, he is very agile on the tennis court even though he is seventy-two, so maybe we should raise the bar a bit, wanting to stay fit at his age. Or perhaps one of our friends is just sharing his health ailments and our past experience with kidney disease will allow us to advise him and warn him. Life with many friends goes on by itself, we don’t have to think about or plan too many things. Everyone con[1]tributes, inspires, and prevents others from stagnating. Life just works.

This explains why Okinawans are far from stagnation, even a hundred years into their lives. We may now be thirty reading this, our lives in full swing, still with many friends from high school or work. We may have our partner and it seems that we are far from a situation where it will ever change for the worse.

Most of us at a young age usually do not complain about a lack of contacts. They begin to fade away gradually and imperceptibly, decade after decade, unless we consciously cherish this sphere of life like Okinawans do.

Having many friends or acquaintances is not just a purpose for entertainment. All those levels at which we can find relief and reduce our regular internal stress levels makes our bodies stronger. The awareness of this goal should guide us to stop thinking about friends in the form of entertainment; otherwise they may not make our priority list.

It is for this reason that many young parents abandon acquaintances and friends. They believe that they are only sacrificing the possibility of having a good time, and that it is not as valuable as their work or caring for children. Unfortunately, by allowing this joyful energy to perish, they are approaching the end of real life and the beginning of a poor existence. Work or children cannot be an excuse. Nor should we expect recognition from our children, who judge their parents not for what they say but for how they live. Children will find it difficult to find the motivation to become adults if they see that their parents’ lives are just a “boring disaster”

You read a chapter from my book. If you like it read the entire book here https://pawel-lipka.com/books/

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