If you have never heard of the ‘Blue Zones’, they are locations around the world where small communities of people have (quite significantly) surpassed average life expectancies. They are outlying pockets of life across the globe, notably in Japan, Costa Rica, Greece and Italy. These are people whose lifestyles we have a lot to learn from, to ensure a long and happy life.
The people who live in the Blue Zones — five regions in Europe, Latin America, Asia and the U.S. researchers have identified as having the highest concentrations of centenarians in the world — move their bodies a lot. They have social circles that reinforce healthy behaviors. They take time to de-stress. They’re part of communities, often religious ones. And they’re committed to their families.
the Secret of “Blue Zone” method
Many people focus just on nutrition and exercise, but as you will see, it is much more of a holistic approach. It is true, you are what you eat, but you also need to flex your social, mental and physical muscle.
Here are the list based on the social attributes to a longer life:
1. We are social animals and the importance of the sense of belonging or intimacy can often be overlooked. Communities in these Blue Zones have close intergenerational relationships, which can easily be misplaced in our busy fragmented lives. We should nurture our relationships with others and put time aside to spend it with young children and our older generation.
2. Spirituality or faith is one area a lot of us lack but seemingly very important and a common thread amongst The Blue Zone communities. An alternative to religion could be a simple approach to finding intention and purpose in one’s own life, through work, charity or discovering a personal interest you can become passionate about and join a group or a club. This is really about mental anchoring, discipline and social support.
4. Positivity. Reaching for the glass half full instead of that which is half empty. One can build this through several techniques which can, over time, rewire the brain (this is known as neuroplasticity). A simple exercise to do is: every morning and evening think of three things you are grateful for (these can be small things, like a smile you exchanged that day, or thinking of an important person in your life).
5. Ikigai is a Japanese word, loosely translated means ‘a reason for being’. The Okinawa community in the Blue Zone, all have ikigai, and make a habit of focusing on it day to day. One lady sees her great great granddaughter, as her ‘ikigai’, which gives her a sense of purpose and a reason to wake up each morning.
6. Getting a pet. It is not just the unconditional love and social connection, but you become more active. A dog will get you into the healthy routine of daily walks (studies have shown you are 50% less likely to be obese if you own a dog).