You’ve probably heard that Okinawa is one of the “Blue Zones”, right? (If not, pop over here and learn how these populations live longer and happier lives than any others on the planet at www.bluezones.com.) They have one of the highest populations of centenarians in the world. Cool! What’s their secret? They have a few, but the one that may be the underpinning is something called a Maoi. It’s pronounced “mow-eye” and it roughly translates to “meeting for a common purpose.” The adults in the villages assign 5 young girls to each Maoi. These Maois stick together through all of life’s ups and downs, giving social, emotional, and even financial support to one another throughout their entire lives. They share the bounty of the good times, and the struggle of the not so good times, but most importantly, each feels accountability for the others and each feels they can ask help of others in the group. Great idea, right? A built-in support structure that ensures you have people to rely on, and a feeling of being there for others, just what researchers say we need as we age.
“Yeah, but… I don’t live in Okinawa and I wasn’t assigned a group of friends in my childhood, so how does this help me?” Well, there’s this amazing group of ladies in China that built a gorgeous home together so they and their families could retire together and support one another as they aged. They don’t live in Okinawa, but they have a Maoi. https://bit.ly/30puVvK
“Yeah, but… I don’t have money to build a house in the country and my spouse would NEVER go for that! What can I do?” How about investing in exercise instead of real estate? Get some friends together and walk and talk every week and make a pact to support each other in whatever you need, whether you feel like walking that week or not. If walking is not your thing, how about workout buddies, poker friends, or even dinner companions? Do anything that allows you to share life’s journey.
So, get your “yeah, buts” in gear, grab a few besties and commit to each other and create your own Moai! You’re in it for better or worse and you can call on them whenever life demands something of you that you can’t shoulder on your own. They can do the same. Hang out together a lot as you begin this journey toward aging. It’s not going to be easy to drop everything for the fifth time for the one most in need, while you have other commitments in your life that demand your time, energy, and resources, so draw up some boundaries and guidelines (they are cultural in Okinawa, but you’ll have to create that structure) and agree on them together and stick to them as a team. Don’t keep score on who helped whom the most; just commit. Every one of you has to know that if one of you gets sick or your spouse dies, someone will step in to help. Really commit to these friends and show your commitment consistently, and ask the same of them. Isn’t it worth it for a shot at being a centenarian? And, who knows? Maybe your spouse would actually love a home in the country with a view for miles and a built-in cricket team!
Jeri has 30 years of experience in corporate America in various roles spanning finance, compensation and benefits, and workforce transition management. She has developed and led multiple trainings on retirement benefits and retirement planning throughout her career. Jeri is now embarking on a new career taking her retirement training and coaching to individuals outside of the corporate setting as owner and principal at Rockin’ The Third Act. Contact Jeri at 916-990-5191 or Jeri@rockinthethirdact.com.