Attitudes toward people: In Sardinia, old people are valued for their wisdom and contribution to the family. Because of this cultural understanding, grandparents stay close to their grandchildren (which also greatly benefits the children). This seems to me to be the most culturally humanizing element of all: aging people in Sardinia keep their connections with their families even as they age and their roles change.
In Okinawa, connections are very intentionally fostered. There’s a tradition of grouping children together into lifelong support groups, to help in crises but also just for daily connection. While it may be harder to establish such long standing groups in a culture where people tend to move around a lot, the Okinawa tradition underlines the importance of cultivating lifelong friendships.
Loma Linda is an example of a faith-based community. A shared religious culture is one way to give people not only a support network and common interests, but also a sense of belonging.
These are different examples of a life of harmony with community. The long and good life involves carefully fostered connections with other people.
Attitudes toward food and exercise: What stands out in all four areas is the way both food and exercise are integrated into daily normal life. In Sardinia and Okinawa, the diet is extremely traditional, based on what grows well in the area. In Loma Linda, among the Seventh-Day Adventists, the diet (vegetarian) is integrated with the religious beliefs of the community. The diets of all four areas are at least mostly plant-based, but what stands out to me is that the diets are so intensely cultural: food is seen neither as mere nutrition nor as a chore. The same is true of exercise: none of these mini-cultures emphasizes workouts in the gym, but all have healthy exercise integrated into the tasks of daily life. For example, in Okinawa, you sit on the floor—which means you are up and down many times each day.
The integration of food and exercise into cultural life provides a harmony with nature. The long and good life involves carefully fostered connections with the environment.
Attitude toward life: The third thing that stands out to me about all these cultures is that each emphasizes a sense of purpose. In Loma Linda, the reason for living may be primarily understood in religious terms. In Okinawa, they have a special word (ikigai) that means your reason for waking up in the morning. You need one! It could be your job or your passion, or, like one of the long-lived residents of Okinawa, it could be your great-great-great granddaughter. And in Loma Linda, 24 hours out of each week are set aside as a sabbath, to step back from the busyness of life and connect with something deeper.