How to live to 100: Lessons from the Blue Zones

Written by Scott April 28, 2010

The Blue Zones

The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who Have Lived The Longest by Dan Buttner

Average Reading Time: 3.5 minutes

Why You Should Read It: Who wouldn’t mind having a few more enjoyable years on this earth?? These are useful, simple tips.

I wonder if I can live to be 100, and enjoy every year of it? I think it might be possible. Very possible. What about you? With all the guidance regarding longevity, diet and simple living, I have a strong feeling that some of us will live a lot longer than people give us credit for – If we stop following the crowd that is.

A few years ago Dan Buttner teamed up with National Geographic to go around the world and visit the populations with the greatest number of centenarians (people 100+ years old) who still live an enjoyable life, to see if there might be any lifestyle habits they all have in common. The results were encouraging. While these “Blue Zones” spanned from little villages in Costa Rica, Japan, Sardinia, and even California, the lifestyles of these people all had a lot in common.

So what can we do to live to be 100 (or at least give ourselves the best shot at it)?

1. Laugh: You think this one’s funny? I hope so. That means you’re on the right track. Don’t take life so seriously. There are few better remedies in life than a good belly laugh. Try to incorporate this 15-20 times a day.

2. Have close friends: The quality of our lives comes down to the people with whom we spend our days. Prioritize time with friends. Open up to them and allow them to do the same. Build genuine connections. Be there when people need you. Have a 2-3 hour weekly meal with those you care most about.

3. Stay close to your family: Don’t ever forget where you came from. Your family will be there when no one else will, as long as you nurture them. Most centenarians lived with or close to their family, where they experience daily love and connection. Sadly, the life expectancy living alone was not quite as rosy.

4. Eat mostly plants: While most of these people eat some meat here and there, the majority of their diets are meat free, consisting of mainly fruits and veggies.

5. Buy a case of nice red wine – And drink it, slowly: At least one of these will be easy to do right? Besides the heart and health benefits of the resveratrol and antioxidants, wine is just a nice way to sit back and take in life. Stick to a max of 2 glasses a day and promise yourself you’ll only drink with friends. That means you’re with your friends every day. Two birds with one stone!

6. Slow down and show up early: Being rushed everywhere you go is a fools game. Take some time to enjoy the slow dance of life. What is the real rush anyway? Simply being in a hurry causes stress. Try showing up 15 minutes early to things. That alone can do wonders. Something I’m especially working on.

7. Move and breathe: I shouldn’t even mention this one. It gets pounded over our head daily. Get off your ass and move and breathe a bit. Some of these centenarians walked or hiked miles in a day. Workout your heart. Feel what it’s like to breathe hard and get your blood pumping. How many of you feel better and more energized as soon as you finish a workout? Moving and breathing is one of the best stress relievers out there. The health benefits can’t be avoided but forget about those for a minute and notice how much more you enjoy your day when it starts with a workout. Twenty minutes is all you need…as a starter.

8. Have a purpose: Do you have any idea what the average life span is of men once they retire? 3 years. No joke. I am sure there are varying statistics on this but it’s pretty powerful. Our life, health and vitality is directly linked to the value we add to society and our compelling reasons for getting up each morning. Life begins and ends with purpose. Perhaps it’s running your business or maybe it’s just making your fiancee smile. Your purpose is yours to define. The important thing is to define it.

As you noticed, only a couple of the items on this very condensed list have to do with what you put into your body. It’s crucial and we hear it all the time. But I listed these other things because they almost seem too basic for anyone to consider. I assure you they are not. These are the daily habits that lead to a lifetime of enjoyment. Happiness not spent today does not equal more happiness tomorrow.

Let me repeat that:

Happiness not spent today does not equal more happiness tomorrow.

Wake up with a purpose, enjoy your friends, cherish your family, and of, course the laughing will come naturally.

It should not be a surprise that financial success isn’t anywhere on the list. In fact I would not be surprised if there was a negative correlation between longevity and wealth. Money is important to a point, but it comes after the things listed above; don’t make it your sole focus. Remember happiness postponed is happiness lost.

As with most guidance for treating your body and your life the way it deserves: simplify, simplify, simplify. A lot of the answers can be found by getting back to basics. If you are ever in doubt, ask yourself this question: How would someone have done it 200 years ago?

Give it a shot and who knows, maybe I’ll see you at your 101st birthday party.

How long do you think you’ll live? What are you doing today that will extend your enjoyable years tomorrow? Share with us in the comments section.

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Photo courtesy of National Geographic
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“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” - Jim Rohn