You want to be happy, be healthy and live a long life, right?
You have an idea of the things you should or should not do…
You know you need to exercise and get fresh air, eat more vegetables and less processed food. Smoking is bad, alcohol and caffeine are definitely not helping. Yoga heals your body and means you’ll be able to do handstands with your grandkids.
We all know these things, but it can be hard work to keep slotting them all into your life.
If you’re a ‘Natural Health Enthusiast’….the search for Longevity can seem even more complicated:
Have you got the right combination of healthy practices for your lifestyle, for your blood type? Cardio or burst training? High protein, or high fat? Think about the macronutrients or think about the micro? Are your health goals and ethical values in alignment? Is it your DNA, your microbiome, or your chimp brain that calls the shots? Super food or local food? Is your juicer slow and masticating or speedy and wrecking the nutrients?
The drive for natural and optimal health can lead you feeling a little crazed. Driven to obsession, or stressed about getting it wrong. But is isn’t your fault. This is the culture in which we’re living. You’re driven by outside forces to remain uncertain about almost everything.
In a vain attempt to make life better you keep opting into the latest and best answer!
Even ‘natural’ health and happiness can become part of the ‘dopamine rush’ in our market-driven, consumer culture.
Dopamine is the chemical that gets you looking for stuff. It’s always driving you to take action on something. The truth is that dopamine, adrenaline, and cortisol are not going to lead you to a long and healthy life.
The Alternative: Finding Your Blue Zone?
‘The Blue Zones’ is the name given to the areas across the globe where people live the longest.
Research done by the National Geographic determined that there are 5 Blue Zones. They are in different corners of the globe and are culturally diverse. They are in the hills of Sardinia, an area in Costa Rica, Mo Malinda in California, Icarus in Greece, and Okinawa.
So how do the people who live the longest in all the world do it? If they are living the longest, they must be the healthiest. Right?
According to Dan Butener, the people who live in these Blue Zones age about a decade slower than the average American, at every stage of life!
Researchers discovered that the people in the Blue Zones lived by 9 common principles:
1.They are on the move throughout the day; walking or moving around on average every 15-20 minutes:
Good news if you’re at home looking after small children. Not so good if you’re in an office or at a computer. However, there’s usually a way to run an errand or walk to the furthest water cooler. You needn’t feel like a freak for using the stairs on the London underground, or in a multi-storey car park. You’ll live longer for it!
Walk the kids to school. Walk to the shops. In a world of superfoods, bio-photon scans, and neural feedback, walking still counts. Remember though that it isn’t just time out of your day, or away from your work. It’s time invested in your happiness and longevity!
If you need motivation you can find a good podcast or audiobook. You will soon be looking for excuses to take the time to walk and listen.
2.They have gardens:
They are actively growing their own food! There are loads of fun ways to grow your own food even in the tiniest of places. Even if you are only growing enough to feed a small guinea pig, it’s getting you back in touch with nature.
As an extra bonus, it’s good for your microbiome to get some dirt under your fingernails. If it’s been a while, and you are nervous about getting it done, ask a child to help. They are always willing to help an adult get grubby and play with seeds and watering cans.
3. Their homes are ‘de-convenienced’:
They do everything by hand. Cleaning, cooking, making bread. By the time your kids have grown, the internet will be embedded into everything. It will be the Internet of Things. Buttons to attach to the kitchen wall so that you can order more coconut oil literally at the touch of a button. The delivery will arrive by drone, and land on your lawn within the hour.
It sounds fun in a ‘Tomorrow’s World’ kind of way, but for longevity, too much convenience is a slow death. So when you are done flying with it, the broom is fun for sweeping too! Do as much by hand now whilst you still have the chance!
4. They all have a ‘deep sense of purpose’ imbued throughout their lives:
In Japan, there is a word for it. ‘Ikigai which translates as a ‘reason for being.’
There’s a lot of talk about finding your passion. Does it feel like a liberating call to freedom? Justification to throw off the suit, and create the life of your dreams? Or does it bring a gnawing sense of doom?
Often we are struck off from following our own passions at a young age and taught to follow the crowd. Finding a passion might seem like a distraction. Choosing to earn money, pay bills and keeping the kids fed is still an honorable path.
‘Purpose’ however takes the judgment away. This is more than what you love. It is what you are best at. What you can offer most to the world in doing. It is simply knowing what you are getting out of bed for.
Call it passion, or call it purpose, what we know is that having a purpose increases your life expectancy by a possible 8 years. What? Exactly… Have you ever heard health advice based on finding your purpose? So don’t be afraid to find yours. It isn’t all motivational jargon. Your body and your great grandchildren will thank you for it, in person.
5. They eat a plant based diet, with small amounts of animal protein:
There you go. Problem solved. Whether you go for paleo or veganism, or whatever-is-left-in-the-fridge-atarian, here is a simple rule to keep you on track: with or without the animal protein, eat mostly plants to live longer.
6. They keep their aging parents close to them and invest in their families:
It’s a loss to both young and the old that we no longer hold our families together. Humans have evolved to survive in groups. We are wired for it. Now many mothers are overworked and exhausted. Children spend more time in front of the screen. The elderly get forgotten about in homes. Family life has become fractured. So what can you do?
If you can focus on family time, do it. Drive a bit further, a bit more often to see family. Don’t let your kids get used to sitting in their rooms playing games alone. Share the home space together. Eat together, cook together, be on the internet in the same room, together.
Keep trying, despite the tide going against you. You are not just being a stickler for traditions. You are investing in the health and happiness of you and your children!
However,We can’t all move granny in (even if we wanted to) and so technology can help. Embrace it! Here’s how:
A study at Leeds University had children in learning in groups, with ‘grannies’ beamed in via skype from all over the world to see how they were doing and what they were learning.
The connection between young and old was found to boost confidence and encourage self-organised learning. So it’s worth creating this relationship even through a screen. Use technology wisely and get your granny on the cloud!
Give your children this connection to their elders now with or without technology.
Imagine, when you’re a granny traveling the world on a motorbike, you’ll be able to put on a VR headset and read your grandchildren a bedtime story. Or you could just live together, make paper dolls, and have that adventure instead.
7. They have a time in the day set aside to combat stress:
Be it meditation or prayer, the main factor is that it is culturally supported!
It sounds idyllic. It sounds traditional, and earthy.
In our secular society, it’s easy to feel a distance from this sort of experience. But wait a minute! Is your favorite part of the yoga class the vipassana at the end (the bit with the blanket where you get to relax your entire being)?
Meditation, prayer, and downtime isn’t supported in our ‘mainstream’ culture. When we do have a communal time for switching off, it’s usually hijacked. Beamed in, laden with adverts and scary news, and we pay for the privilege. The question is: what did everyone do before there was television?
We clearly recognize as a culture that it’s important to ‘switch off’ at the end of the day. We feel it in our bones, our minds and our feet.
We have worked and worried hard. We want to forget about it for an hour or two before sleep. This much is our evolutionary right. The wisdom of our DNA. We are already doing it, but we are doing it all wonky.
Why not switch off the telly, ban Netflix from the bedroom, or just find another time of day to check in, and tune out (I’m talking meditation, breathing practice, or connecting with nature).
If you have resistance to breathing or meditation then fast forward to the end of your life. Ask yourself, ‘What was it all for?’ A moment in the day to pause and reflect, is not only the way to a longer life, but it will make it a life more considered. And it will ‘up’ your wisdom status considerably with your children and grandchildren.
8.They live in faith-based communities:
Don’t run away!
I didn’t say devout, religious or dogmatic…
The common factor in the ‘Blue Zones’ was that the community was faith based. Spirituality is still an individual choice. The common thread is that these communities have a reverence for something greater than themselves. You don’t have to be in a church to know what this is like.
It’s an innate understanding that we (as humans) are small and transitory. We have a short life (some shorter than others) in a world is literally awesome.
So let go of needing to ‘work everything out’ and have some faith. Give yourself and those around you some deep loving respect. We are all born of stardust.
There we go. That’s my faith right there. Would you like to be in my community? If you are still reading this article… you’re in. Pleased to meet your sparkly star face. You can connect with me here.
9. They have close social networks (the original meaning of the phrase) that keeps them linked to these cultural behaviors:
Well, this one is easy…
If you’re testing new waters, in health, or wellness, or knitting, or fishing, you need a tribe. You can find them. You must find them. So do it!
Anything that you love doing that keeps you happy, healthy, sane and sexy, share it with others.
Get the support you need so you don’t feel like a freak. There is no reason why you should transform your health and happiness all by yourself. In fact, your social network will drive your health and longevity far more than a diet or exercise regime.
According to the Blue Zone research, there is also another 8 years of life on offer for those who keep happy and healthy in good company.
So, find a group of ‘like-minded’ supportive people and you can take your enemas and pranayama breath into old age with you. You’ll be doing handstands on your 80th birthday and sharing it with your global village family.
So what’s the most important thing you can learn from the Blue Zones?
For me, it’s that happiness and longevity are enmeshed with your environment.
People who live in the Blue Zones are not making difficult choices to be healthy or happy. It’s the natural result of their cultural and social environment.
So, remember that longevity and happiness go hand in hand. There is no purpose in striving towards health in a way that makes you sick. Relax and trust your journey.
Notice the little things.
Enjoy what you choose and share it with others.
By Amanda Clare
If you don’t live in any of the Blue Zones and could do with a little help creating the conditions for longevity, then a coach can be a great way to start.
Amanda is skilled at helping you to re-align with what you want and where you’re at.
Want to start taking peaceful action in your life today?
You can reach out to Amanda Here