Jade Small
Jade Small
March 16, 2024 ·  6 min read

105-Year-Old Doctor Offers Life Advice on How to Live Longer and Be Happy Every day

They say that with age comes knowledge. A lifetime of trial and error, meaningful experiences, and lessons learned gives people a deeper perspective of the world that younger generations tend to lack. Life, like anything, requires practice. That is something that this 105-year-old Japanese doctor vouched for in his life. His goal before his death was to share with you what he learned so that you can learn how to live longer and be happy. 

This Man Lived to Be 105 and Has Worked the Whole Time

Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara was born in 1911, at a time when the average Japanese person was unlikely to live past the age of 40. Because of this, he never missed an opportunity to defy the odds and live his long life fully.

how to live longer

This was a man who was working at St. Luke’s Hospital in Tokyo since 1941. A man who also had the foresight to install oxygen tubes throughout the hospital, which saved the lives of hundreds after the cult Aum Shinrikyo used poison gas to attack subways in Tokyo, killing 13 people and injuring thousands.

This man administered to victims in the firebombing of Tokyo during WW2 and was a passenger on the Japan Airlines plane that was hijacked by Japanese Red Army Members in 1970.

“I spent the next four days handcuffed to my seat in 40-degree heat. As a doctor, I looked at it all as an experiment and was amazed at how the body slowed down in a crisis,” Hinohara said of his experience as a captive[2].

Before you make the mistake of thinking that his only area of expertise was medicine, you should know about the 150 books he’d published since his 75th birthday, including “Living Long, Living Good” which sold more than 1.2 million copies.

He wrote a musical for children when he was 88-years-old which first ran in Japan and then moved to Broadway in 2010. Up until his death at age 105, he was still taking patients and kept a date book with space for 5 more years of appointments.

With many, many experiences under his belt, Hinohara had quite a few things to say about how to live life to the fullest, and his greatest wish was to share them with the world.

A Lifetime of Advice: How to Live Longer and Be Happy

1. Healthy eating

“All people who live long — regardless of nationality, race or gender — share one thing in common: None are overweight.[2]”

Eating healthy foods will allow your body to maintain the energy that you need to feel great, every day. At his old age, Hinohara ate sparingly but was adamant on only eating a small portion of red meat twice a week, with the rest of his meals containing mainly vegetables and rice. 

2. Plan ahead

Find things that excite you and put them into your schedule to give yourself something to look forward to. 

3. “Retiring” doesn’t mean you stop doing what you love

“There is no need to ever retire, but if one must, it should be a lot later than 65[2]”

As the saying goes, “love what you do and you won’t ever work a day in your life.” This could not be truer for Hinohara. Societal pressures may make you feel as though you have to retire at age 65, but if you love what you do then working will keep your mind sharp and increase happiness and a sense of fulfillment.  

how to live longer

4. Share what you know

“I give 150 lectures a year, some for 100 elementary-school children, others for 4,500 business people. I usually speak for 60 to 90 minutes, standing, to stay strong[2].”

Knowledge is power. Use what you have learned from your experiences to teach other people and contribute to society in a positive way. This doesn’t always have to translate into lectures and public speaking. You can share what you know on a one-on-one level with the people in your life.

5. There’s more to healing than science

“I think music and animal therapy can help more than most doctors imagine [2].”

Coming from the mouth of a doctor: “Science alone can’t heal everything [2].”

Science tends to lump people into categories, but each individual is completely unique and should be treated as such. Hinohara believed that to fully heal people the liberal and visual arts are needed, not just the medical ones.  

6. Take the stairs and carry your own stuff

Keeping your body strong will help to also keep your mind strong as you age. Hinohara reported that he would take the stairs two at a time to get his muscles moving. If this 105-year-old man could do it, then you can too!

7. Find inspiration

“My inspiration is Robert Browning’s poem “Abt Vogler.” It encourages us to make big art, not small scribbles[2]”

Hinohara believed that inspiration can be extremely powerful in creating a happy life. You can harness this too by figuring out what inspires and motivates you, and incorporating it into your everyday life. If it’s a photograph, frame it and put it on your desk at work. If it’s a song, take 3 minutes out of your day to listen to it when you’re feeling the blues. Use inspiration to keep you looking forward, instead of back.

8. Heal pain with fun

“Pain is mysterious, and having fun is the best way to forget it.”

When a child has scraped her knee, the best way to get her to forget the pain is to play a game together. All humans crave fun, and as adults, the sense of play can often elude us. Combat pain with play.

9. Don’t be crazy about amassing material things.

Hinohara knew more than anyone that you can’t take material things with you when you die. Don’t waste your life attempting to accumulate ‘things’. Instead, use your time and money to accumulate experiences.

10. Find a role model

Hinohara’s role model was his father, a man who traveled to America to study. Find your role model and aim to achieve even more than they could ever do. When you feel stuck, ask yourself what your role model would do in the same situation.

In 2017,  Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara died at the age of 105 of a respiratory failure[3]. He will be remembered for all of the accomplishments that he had in his long life, and how he was able to inspire and encourage others with his words. He has gifted us with knowledge acquired over 105 years, through wars, famine, smiles, and tears, so that we may take his wisdom, and use it to better our own lives.

He will be remembered with the words that his own father spoke to him: “Have big visions and put such visions into reality with courage. The visions may not be achieved while you are alive, but do not forget to be adventurous. Then you will be victorious[3].”


  1. [1] Kyodo, Staff Report. (July 18, 2017). Shigeaki Hinohara, St. Luke’s doctor whose foresight saved lives after Tokyo sarin attack, dies at 105. Retrieved on November 2, 2017, from
  2. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/07/18/national/shigeaki-hinohara-japans-centenarian-doctor-st-lukes-dies-105/#.Wfx7jBNSz6Z
  3. [2] Judit Kawaguchi. (January 29, 2009). Author/physician Shigeaki Hinohara. Retrieved on November 3, 2017, from
  4. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2009/01/29/people/authorphysician-shigeaki-hinohara/#.Wfx8HBNSz6Y
  5. [3] Sam Roberts. (July 25, 2017). Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, Longevity Expert, Dies at (or Lives to) 105. Retrieved on November 3, 2017, from
  6. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/science/shigheaki-hinohara-dead-doctor-promoted-longevity-in-japan.html