Tuesday, October 30, 2012


One of the friends of this blog posted this very neat article on Ikaria on her Facebook page. Ikaria is a small idyllic Greek island just off the Turkish coast. This island has a greater concentration of active happy people in their 90s than anywhere on earth. Does the search for Shangri-La have anything to do with the intersection of finance and spirituality? I let you be the judge of that.

The Island Where People Forget to Die
The article begins with the story of a Greek immigrant dyeing of lung cancer. He decided to forego chemo-therapy. Trying to save his money for his family he returned to Ikaria, his birthplace, to die. He decided it was about time to get right with God, so every day he climbed the hill to the village church. He reconnected with some old acquaintances and made some new friends. They drank wine, a lot of wine, every night. He thought if I am going to die, why not die happy. Like his neighbors this dying American decided to plant a garden, even though he never expected to harvest the fruit of his labors. He found he was getting stronger, so he restored the family vineyard to operational status, he added a couple of rooms to his little house so his children could visit. Then one day, he was declared cancer free. Now, at 97, he is still going strong. By the way, all the doctors that pronounced his death sentence are dead. He lived to see every one of them buried.

So what are the secrets of a long and happy life? If we can learn any lessons from Ikaria, it would seem to start with purpose and faith. These people believe in the Orthodox Church. It gives meaning to their lives. In, Okinawa, another island with more than its share of nonagenarians, old men are teaching the next generation karate and the tenants of their Buddhist faith.

People on Ikaria don’t exercise, but they walk just about everywhere. They keep their gardens and their vineyards in good order. They build and repair their own homes. They take naps, lots of naps, really long naps.

The air and water on Ikaria have been considered healthful since Biblical times. The island’s residents eat a lot of vegetables, mostly home grown. They only eat meat about 5 times a month. They do eat a lot of fish. One would expect that on an island. They drink and eat a lot of products made from goat’s milk. They also drink a weird tea concocted from stuff that grows on the island. Scientists have determined that just about everything in it is good for your health.

They share a lot time with their friends, usually drinking wine, sometimes playing dominos. Everybody is deeply involved in everybody’s business, sort of a small Midwestern town on steroids.

Dan Buettner, the author of the article comes away from his study with the following observation, “The big aha for me, having studied populations of the long-lived for nearly a decade, is how the factors that encourage longevity reinforce one another over the long term. For people to adopt a healthful lifestyle, I have become convinced, they need to live in an ecosystem, so to speak, that makes it possible. As soon as you take culture, belonging, purpose or religion out of the picture, the foundation for long healthy lives collapses. The power of such an environment lies in the mutually reinforcing relationships among lots of small nudges and default choices.”

As you read these articles, relax, and enjoy beautiful dreams; beautiful dreams of your own Shangri-La, a place of peace, a place you can share with your friends, a place where you can rest, a place where you can fall into the hearts and arms of those who love you. Fly away now, like an angel, to your very own home, your very own place of peace and rest.

Micah 4:

[1] But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
[2] And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
[3] And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
[4] But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.

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