A growing number of older people prefer to age in place for many reasons. Around this time, they might have already paid their mortgage in full. Besides, the cost of moving to another location, more so a senior facility, can be costly.
But being in an assisted-living home has value, particularly to one’s mental well-being. The idea of moai dominates here, and studies show it may help provide an amazing quality of life.
What Is the Okinawan Concept of Moai?
The Okinawan concept of Moai is a way to describe the relationship between individuals or groups. The word moai means “a person, thing, happening, or condition that gives off positive energy.”
Moai is more than just an attitude of optimism and positive thinking. It also includes the values of sharing your good fortune with others without expecting anything in return.
You can think of it as being generous or charitable for its own sake rather than through obligation or expectation of reciprocation. In this sense, you might say that moai is a way to give love freely and truly experience love equally in turn.
Okinawans feel that moai is at the heart of Okinawan spirituality, which makes them different from other people. Many Okinawans don’t think their culture would exist if not for moai. It seems to be a cultural tenet deeply infused in their daily lives, rooted deeply in the history of their island home.
What Are Some Examples?
One example of moai might be when someone is sick or injured. They find out through the grapevine that someone donated money toward getting them better or just sent them an encouraging note.
People will come to visit even if you didn’t ask because they want to give off positive energy to you, whether you can sense it or not. On many occasions, Okinawans will visit someone who doesn’t know them personally but is part of their social circle. They feel that giving off positive energy benefits the giver and the receiver.
Another example might be when you give your children treats or gifts even though they are naughty. Many people would think it’s not good to spoil your kids and think you should only give them punishment. Moai-mind folks think if they can just let go of those kinds of thoughts and give their love freely, it will do more than enough good for everyone all around.
Can Moai Help Provide Good Quality of Life?
The answer is yes, based on the growing number of studies that focus on the value of personal relationships. In fact, the idea of belongingness is one of the hallmarks of places belonging to the Blue Zone, regions where people live significantly longer than the rest.
The Sardinians, for instance, spend time each day visiting neighbors or drinking wine leisurely while eating together.
A 2016 study by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill revealed that social networks might be just as essential as diet and exercise in every stage of one’s life.
Their research even associated personal connections with decreased risks of chronic inflammation, high blood pressure, and abdominal obesity. These factors are common in many diseases today, including cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, and even cancer.
Meanwhile, a 2014 University of Chicago study shared that extreme loneliness could decrease an older adult’s lifespan by as much as 14 percent. About 1 to 5 percent of their demographic are prone to depression, according to the CDC.
Many factors can trigger late-life depression among older males and females. These can include big life changes, like a medical diagnosis, death of a spouse or family member, or the loss of a job or even retirement.
However, one of the leading reasons for loneliness in this population is isolation. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), almost 25 percent of those 65 years old and above are considered socially isolated.
Building Quality Network
Moai provides many things for older adults, especially those who usually feel alone: companionship, support, and friendship. They may also like the idea that they are sharing the last years of their lives with people taking the same journey as them.
And like in moai, older adults don’t need an extensive network to enjoy the benefits of this deep sense of camaraderie. In a 2019 study by the American Psychological Association, the quantity of friends doesn’t immediately equate to a happy life. Instead, seniors may enjoy greater well-being when they maintain a small social network.
Eventually, the appeal of mai stems from the fact that humans are—and will always be—social creatures. We will crave a relationship even with a few people.