Stamatis Moraitis was in his mid-60’s, living in the United States, when he was diagnosed with lung cancer and told he had only 9 months to live. He considered taking his doctor’s advice – aggressive chemotherapy that might prolong his life, but wouldn’t cure him. But upon reflection, he decided to decline it, choosing instead to return to his native Ikaria, a Greek island where he could be buried with his ancestors in a graveyard overlooking the Aegean Sea.
He and his wife moved into a small house on a vineyard with his elderly parents, where he expected he would die soon. While he prepared to die, he started going to his old church. He reconnected with old friends over a bottle or two of wine. He even planted vegetables in a garden, not expected he’d be around to harvest them. He basked in sunshine, savored the salty air, and relished in his love for this wife.
Then six months passed, and not only did he not die, he was actually feeling better than ever. He started working in the vineyard during the day, making himself useful, and in the evenings, he’d play dominos with friends.
Three and a half decades later, Moraitis is 97 years old, still living in Ikaria. He never underwent treatment.
At one point, 25 years after his diagnosis, Moraitis went back to the United States to ask his doctors what had happened. Apparently, the doctors were all dead.
The Island Where People Forget To Die
The New York Times article The Island Where People Forget To Die describes the Ikarians, a population of Greeks like Moraitis who often live healthy lives until they’re over a hundred years old.
What can we learn from the people of Ikaria about how to live long, happy, productive lives? Here are some of the longevity-inducing factors researchers ferreted out from studying this populations of centenarians.