Thank you for your warm and enthusiastic response to my last letter. In case you missed it, I started an open conversation with our Optimal Wellness Labs community about how you experience aging—whether you see it as a good thing or a bad thing.
I cited an emerging body of research that revealed those of us who wake up in the morning with a purpose tend to live an additional 7-10 years longer. I was truly overwhelmed and grateful for the outpouring of heartfelt stories I received in reply. Many of you graciously shared your purpose in life, and I learned a great deal.
Here’s just a few of the many, many inspiring stories you shared with me:
Steve, Age 66: Active in work, family, community and church. City council water board and theater board; married 42 years, 11 grandchildren; loves golf and yard work; believes happiness and engagement with life reduces stress.
Bob, Age 74: Great health; daily walking, hiking, climbing hills and mountains; swims in ocean; manages farms and gardens; leads project helping school for under-privileged Filipinos; enjoys a happy, healthy life.
Maxine, Age 72: Scuba instructor; photographs underwater sea life in Kona; swimming; fun, thrilling life by the sea.
John, 85: Works on vintage aircraft; pilot, takes hunting trips; takes a lot of vitamins and supplements.
Ralph, 80: Owns residential rental business; farms; loves life.
Loyce, 91: Attends bible school; crochet; rides stationary bike daily; Sit and Be Fit TV program; Meals on Wheels delivery. Still can't find enough time to do everything she wants to do.
I think you’ll agree these are some amazing people, and they set a great example for us all.
I brought this whole issue up because I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about Blue Zones. Blue Zones are geographic areas spread all around the globe where people live measurably longer lives.
I first came across the whole Blue Zone idea when I read a book by Dan Buettner called The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, in which he (and the crew from National Geographic) identifies nine fundamental lifestyle elements the longest-living residents of these zones have in common. They’re called the “Power 9” and what blows me away is that although they don’t technically live in these zones, Steve, Bob, Maxine, John, Ralph and Loyce all “live blue” despite the fact they’ve probably never heard of these Blue Zones.
The Power 9
- Natural Movement. People in blue zones don’t necessarily follow workout regimens, but they do stay active with things like walking, gardening, and keeping busy around the house.
- People in blue zones have a compelling reason to get up in the morning: volunteer work, children, grandchildren, etc.
- Stress Management. People in blue zones have robust and effective methods for eliminating stress from their lives.
- Moderate eating. People in blue zones tend to follow the 80% rule: they stop eating when they’re 80% full.
- Plant-based diet. People in blue zones tend to eat less meat, plenty of veggies, and more beans than people in the rest of the world.
- Moderate drinking. People in blue zones tend to have one to two glasses of wine or beer a day, and don’t skip the occasional cocktail when offered.
- Spirituality is a common element in blue zones. The denomination or tradition doesn’t matter, but people in blue zones are all connected, in some way, to an idea of a higher power.
- Family is an important part of life in blue zones. Whether it’s a spouse, children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, these people are surrounded by loved ones.
- People in blue zones are socially active. They have friends, they talk, they laugh, they play cards—the bottom line is they don’t live in isolation.
Here’s an excellent graphic that compares the lifestyles elements of three of the most well-known Blue Zones in the world: Loma Linda, U.S.A., Sardinia, Italy, and Okinawa, Japan.
Before I sign off, I want to tap into your collective wisdom once again. If you have a spare moment, please take a look at the graphic above and the Power 9 list, then hit the reply button and answer me two things:
- Which element resonates the most with you?
- Which element resonates the least with you?
I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.