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When researching their recently published book, Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, Héctor García and Francesc Miralles ventured to the Japanese village Ogimi.

Colloquially known as the ‘Village of Longevity’, it boasts the highest life expectancy in the world.

They found that a careful balance of productivity and ‘idleness’ is central to the way of life for the elders of Ogimi village who, unlike their counterparts in the west, are reluctant to distinguish between work and leisure.

“During our week in Ogimi, we didn’t see anyone idling, but neither did the villagers seem rushed or overburdened,” García said. “They always had something to do, but not tasks that would bring the people here to a state of stress”.

They concluded that life for the seemingly un-aging population of Ogimi was connected to their ability to seamlessly balance activity and rest.

“The lesson we can draw,” Garcia said, “is that we should do less when we are feeling overwhelmed, but keep busy when we feel like doing nothing. Don’t overwork, but don’t fritter those hours away either. The answer to longevity may well rely on a balance between the two.”