In a phenomenal new feature published yesterday in The New York Times entitled “The Island Where People Forget To Die”, American explorer and writer Dan Buettner tells the story of a remarkable island where people’s lives are being transformed in the most astonishing ways. Buettner opens his piece with the story of Stamatis Moraitis, a Greek war veteran who in 1943 while in his early 30s sailed to the United States for treatment of a combat-mangled arm. Stamatis never returned to Greece, instead choosing to settle down in Boynton Beach, Florida where he married a Greek-American woman, had three children, and lived in a 3-bedroom house with a 1951 Chevrolet parked in the driveway.
Fast forward to 1976 when he was in his mid-60s, Stamatis felt short of breath one day and went to see his doctor. He was quickly diagnosed with lung cancer and was given no more than 9 months to live. The news was devastating, and he wrestled with the choice of staying in America for aggressive treatment and an all but certain funeral. Finances won out in the end, and Stamatis chose to return to his native Greek island of Ikaria where a funeral would cost no more than $200 and the hugely expensive cancer treatment would be avoided, allowing him to leave more money to his wife when he died. But when he arrived in Ikaria, a series of transformative events began to take place around him and inside him as well. It is one of the most incredible true stories you will ever read, and as Dan Buettner writes, “Today, three and a half decades later, he’s 97 years old — according to an official document he disputes; he says he’s 102 — and cancer-free. He never went through chemotherapy, took drugs or sought therapy of any sort. All he did was move home to Ikaria.” What’s even more astonishing than this? Stamatis Moraitis’s Ikaria story is not unique to him. To discover the mysterious source of this island’s life-giving force you can read it in full by visiting NYTimes.com. Pure amazingness.
Dan Buettner is the founder and CEO of Blue Zones, which studies the world’s longest-lived, happiest people and unlocks their secrets (a “blue zone” is a demographic and/or geographic area of the world where people live measurably longer lives). You can learn more about this fascinating company by visiting BlueZones.com, and follow Blue Zones on Facebook and Twitter.