I just finished a wonderful book called The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner. Are you familiar with the Blue Zones? These are areas of the world with large populations of people who live to be in their 100’s. How do they live so long? What are their secrets? This book investigates the lifestyles of these centenarians.
I came away with several things from this book:
- Eat a diet mainly of plant-based foods. The inhabitants of the Blue Zones rarely eat meat and never eat processed foods. Their diets consist of fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Also, eat until you’re no longer hungry, not until you’re full or stuffed. The Okinawans call this Hara Hachi Bu (eat until you are 80% full).
- Have a purpose in your life. If you can’t wake up each morning knowing that you have a purpose for the day, your life will be shortened. Many of the centenarians do volunteer work, work the same job that they’ve been doing since they were young, tend to a garden, and take care of their family members.
- Have a social network. Lonely people tend to die at an earlier age. Centenarians are surrounded by family and friends and spend time with them every day.
- Take naps and have a glass of wine every day. (I think this lesson is my favorite!)
- Stay active. You don’t have to run marathons. Just walk every day or do an exercise that you enjoy. Go on hikes or ride your bike.
- Stop running on the hamster wheel, get out of the rat race, and stop and savor your surroundings: love the people around you, eat with mindfulness, and don’t worry about things that are out of your control. Have faith in a higher power. Less work, more play.
There is a quiz that you can take on the Blue Zones website that will calculate your life expectancy. My biological age is 45 (I’m 49) and my life expectancy is 91 – woo! I’ve added 8 years onto my life because of my lifestyle habits. However, there are things that I can improve on, particularly how I let daily stress affect me. Some days I get so caught up with work, housework chores, and worrying about other things and that I don’t stop and enjoy the wonderful things going on around me.
Reading this book also reminded me of how much I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and that I need to do this as often as possible. I also need to practice more random acts of kindness. Doing that makes me feel happy.
And MEDITATE! I need to meditate daily. I keep saying this, but haven’t made it a daily practice yet. Meditating is so important to help you stay grounded and strengthen your spirituality. The Blue Zones people meditate and pray every day.
And that daily glass of wine that I keep denying myself because I’m trying to lose weight? Where’s my wine opener?????