How to Live to Be 100: Lessons Learned from The Blue Zones
Do you want to know how to live to be 100? Honestly, living to be 100 doesn’t interest me that much. However, I am interested in knowing how I can live the highest quality life possible until God determines my time here on Earth is done.
Whether you want to live long or live well, I have just finished a book that you will find inspiring. The Blue Zones tells the story of five unique regions of the world that author, Dan Buettner, has visited during his travels with National Geographic. He calls these special areas “The Blue Zones.”
In these five pockets of the world, an extraordinary number of individuals live well into their 100s. But what he found most astonishing about these people wasn’t just their age, it was the quality of their lives. The vast majority of these people were living full, happy, relatively independent lives. They weren’t withering away in a nursing home unable to care for themselves. They were spending their time laughing with family and friends, drinking good wine, enjoying their hobbies, and living life with purpose.
Dan wanted to know what it was about these Blue Zones that allowed people to live so well for so long. Why were people here seldom sick? Why was heart disease, diabetes, or cancer almost unheard of in these communities? How were these people still thriving at an age that most people are already dead?
The book follows Dan’s travels to the five Blue Zones: Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; Hojancha, Costa Rica; and Ikaria, Greece. Each Blue Zone has its own chapter in which Dan recounts his visits to each community and tells the stories of the people he met along the way. There are dozens of interviews with centenarians (people in their 100s) which will inspire you to take a good long look at how you are living your life.
If the book ended here, it would be a great read, and I’d highly recommend it. However, it gets even better.
How to Live to Be 100
Dan was able to determine what these communities had in common that explained their excellent health and longevity. He talks about each in detail and breaks them down into nine lessons that he calls “Your Personal Blue Zone.”
I’ll touch briefly on each one, but I highly encourage you to read the book to get all the details. Some of the lessons are things you probably expect, but I think a few will surprise you.
Lesson 1: Move Naturally
The first lesson is to be active without having to think about it. People in all five Blue Zones are active as part of daily routine. Most walk a lot, garden, or find another way to make exercise a natural part of their day.
Lesson 2: Hara Hachi Bu
The second lesson is this Confucian-inspired saying that means “stop eating when you are 80% full.” Each Blue Zone has a philosophy similar to this that encourages them to eat in moderation. They enjoy and celebrate food, but they do not eat mindlessly, and they stop eating when they are no longer hungry.
Lesson 3: Plant Slant
The third lesson is to avoid meat and processed food. People in the Blue Zones eat simple diets consisting of grains, fruits, nuts, beans, and vegetables. They eat things that grow from the ground they tend. Meat is only for special occasions, and they never eat processed foods.
Lesson 4: Grapes of Life
Lesson number four is to drink alcohol regularly and in moderation. The people living in the Blue Zones relax with red wine, sake, or other local spirits each day, but it is always just a glass or two.
Lesson 5: Purpose Now
The fifth lesson is to take the time to see the big picture and wake each day with a sense of purpose. Centenarians in the Blue Zones still have daily goals and ways they still contribute to their communities.
Lesson 6: Downshift
Lesson number six is to take the time to relieve stress. Each of the Blue Zone communities has daily or weekly rituals which allow them to disconnect from being busy. They slow the mind. They relax with family and friends.
Lesson 7: Belong
Lesson seven is to participate in a spiritual community. All of the Blue Zone centenarians have deep faith and belong to active religious communities. The Sardinians and Nicoyans are Catholic. The Okinawans have a blended religion. Ikarians are Greek Orthodox, and most people in Loma Linda are Seventh-day Adventists.
Lesson 8: Loved Ones First
Lesson number eight is to make family a priority. In the Blue Zone communities, centenarians have a strong sense of duty when it comes to family. They live close together and have established family rituals or traditions. Shared meals and activities play an important part of their everyday lives.
Lesson 9: Right Tribe
The last lesson is to surround yourself with people that share Blue Zone values. These people are your tribe. Blue Zone communities have close social circles that they count on in difficult times and with whom they create strong bonds of friendship.
Live Long and Live Well in Your Own Blue Zone
If you have any interest in living long and living well, I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book. It’s full of valuable information and inspiring stories. After you read it, I’d love to hear your ideas on how we can create Blue Zones in our own communities.
Let Me Hear From You
As always, I love hearing from you! Feel free to comment below or contact me anytime.