9 Lessons We Learn from the Oldest Living People
There are people all over the world living to ages well beyond 100 years. The oldest are pressing further and further beyond this age.
What is interesting to note are those places that contain the highest concentration of these individuals.
What is it about those people, their environment and lifestyle that help them to achieve a longer life.
That is exactly the research that has been done by Dan Buettner and National geographic, yielding our knowledge of the world’s ‘Blue Zones’ where the most long-lived people dwell.
The world’s Blue Zones are as follows:
the Ogliastra region of Sardinia
Loma Linda, California;
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
So what accounts for the high percentage of centurions in these places? They are scattered across the globe and encompass many different cultures and socio-economic situations. What Buettner and his team discovered was that there were indeed lifestyle choices shared by members of each community. Some were surprising.
1. Move Naturally
Office chairs, driving, stiff=soled shoes and a general state of sedentary lethargy has left western human bodies twisted and out of balance. Those who live in the Blue Zones tend to move as nature intended and often. The combination of regular exercise and correct posture and body alignment leads to healthy and longer lives.
2. Know your Purpose
Having a clear directive when you awaken in the morning is said to add seven years to your life when compared to those who do not. This does not mean waking up resigned to work that makes you miserable. Cultivate your talents and passions and share them with the world in a powerful and intentional way.
3. Down Shift
Stress and diet yields chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation yields a treasure trove of illness, disease and pain. One of the greatest ways to prevent chronic inflammation, besides diet, is to get plenty of sleep, take naps and lots of space to meditate, pray, or otherwise quiet your mind.
4. 80% Rule
I like to eat. I learned in my family that the slow eater doesn’t get seconds. This, however leads to overfilling the stomach and overloading our digestive system. This results in poor assimilation of nutrients and poor elimination of wastes. When we eat slow we give our body time to register fullness. However across the blue zones there is another piece. While eating slowly and chewing food completely we eat, on average, 20% less food. We gain more nutrition with less waste to process. Long lived people tend to eat a large breakfast and a small dinner, maximizing their sleep without the extra need for heavy digestion.
5. Plant Slant
Sustainably speaking we can only afford to eat about 2oz of meat a week, per person. Luckily that is just the amount that is eaten (or less) by the longest lived people on the planet. A diet of fruit, nuts and leafy greens makes up most of their food intake..
6. Wine at 5
Drinkers live longer than non-drinkers? Research would tend to agree that this is true. This does not mean getting wasted every day, or ever, really. The benefit is present only in small quantities.Two glasses of wine, preferably eaten during a meal of veggies, will serve you best. I recommend local metheglin (herbal) mead as a powerful alternative that delivers medicine and nutrition to boot.
7. Family First
Family is our greatest teacher and, according to this research, a powerful component of our longevity. Cultivating close ties with relatives, healthy relationships with kids and spouse is a sure way to live a longer, healthier life.
A personal spiritual practice is a wonderful thing and will certainly lead to a happier healthier life. The blue zone people also belong to a spiritual community. Whether a Buddhist center, Christian, Jewish, Islam, or any other community dedicated to celebrating the mysteries and the magic, having a spiritual community is a crucial part of the blue zone alchemy.
9. Right Tribe
I once heard an old saying that you could look at the ten people closest to you and see a clearer reflection of yourself than your own personal idea of who you are. This adage has stuck with me and helped me to cultivate a life where I am surrounded by people who inspire me. Loyalty to people who bring you down only hinders your ability to be effectual and happy. Create space from those who spread dis-ease and find the tribe of people who inspire you most. These people will keep you active, healthy and inspired.
The Blue Zone research gives us an interesting perspective into the lives of those who live the longest on this planet. Studying the places where the highest concentrations of these people live has yielded a simple strategy similar to the one I have outlined in my book ‘Unleash Your Creative Genius’. In the book, however I do not focus on longevity in terms of how many years you live. To me it seems like more years is a natural consequence of opening to creativity and physical vitality. What stands out about these practices is that they increase the quality of the moments you have, right now. They create more unique and memorable experiences which translate to a greater number of unique memories in any given moment. Relative to memory you literally experience more time in one day than someone who is caught in a behavior loop that repeats every day and blends together.
So while Blue Zone research confirms many of the practices I outline in my book, I am still going to search for the longevity of this moment right now through the unique experiences I can create. Extra years will be a welcome bonus, not the goal.