3 Lessons from the Healthiest and Happiest People on the Planet

Read about people in the "Blue Zones" and how they have found the key to happiness.

What do wine-drinking shepherds from Sardinia have in common with close-knit groups of friends in Okinawa? They are both from areas of the world that have some of the oldest, healthiest people on the planet.

Author Dan Buettner did extensive research on communities in these regions and shared what he found in his book Blue Zones to inspire people to change their environments to foster healthier, happier, longer lives of their own.

So, what does Buettner describe as the secret to living a long life?


Rest looks different around the world. For some, it’s taking naps during siestas; for others, it might be drinking a glass of wine during dinner. Americans love to hustle, though, so relaxing can be counterintuitive and feel almost impossible.

What are some practical steps we can take to incorporate more rest into our life? According to Blue Zones, gardening is a common hobby among people who lived more than 100 years. Hobbies that include gentle movement are an ideal way to stay active while lowering the stress levels in our day. Taking time for mediation and prayer can also have tremendous health benefits. No matter how busy we find ourselves, creating space for rest is critical, not just for improving our mental health, but also for living a long, healthy life.

Real meals are real important

According to Blue Zones, people who lived past 100 tend to eat more plants in their diet. So how can we incorporate more plants and joy into our diet?

One practical way is to learn new recipes. Finding a new dish with leafy greens or colorful garden goods can delight our taste buds while nourishing our body.

Starting a garden with a few nutritious plants is another practical (and cheap) step to take to create a steady source of fresh produce. Even herbs in containers near the kitchen sink can add a pop of flavor, nutrition, and a sense of accomplishment to a meal! Delicious and nutritious meals like this are part of the secret to living a long time.

Build community

Studies have found that everything from obesity to loneliness seem to be contagious. The people who lived in Buettner’s blue zones had close-knit friendships — and most of them were part of a faith-based community.

How can we build more community into our lives? Developing a routine with weekly or monthly meetings with people who have similar goals to us can be a solid first step. Finding a faith community you connect with is another practical way to lengthen the years of your life. You could also share a meal with people you are close with.

Combine relaxation, healthy food, and community all in one beautiful evening or fun-filled brunch! These steps not only add quality to your life — according to Buettner, they can add quite a bit of length as well.

Dan Buettner found many similarities between the different communities he visited throughout the world, and his book is a quick read that can give us deeper insight into the routines and habits that can improve and lengthen our lives. Our lives are likely quite different from many of the people who live past 100 in the blue zone regions, but we can take small practical steps to foster a healthier, longer life.

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