Wellness

Long living cultures around the world

What does the longest living cultures around the world have in common? Here are six powerful and simple lessons from the cultures who lives til their 100s or even longer. These cultures, called the Blue Zones, can be found in Sardinia (Italy), Loma Linda (California), Nicoya (Costa Rica), Okinawa (Japan) and Ikaria (Greece). Find out what these people do to have an active and fulfilling life well into their 90s and 100s.

Family and community.
If you want a long, healthy and happy life, you can’t do it alone. Invest your time and energy in the once you love! Play with the children, nurture your friends, love your partner and honour your parents. If you live alone: surround yourself with friends you trust and feel good with. Studies have shown that those with the most social connections lives longer. But the type of connections is not important (weather it’s a spouse or a friend). So make family and friends a priority, laugh together and support each other, because in the end that’s the thing that truly matters.

Find your purpose.
All long-lived people have a strong sense of purpose: a reason to get up in the morning. The motivation can come from a job or a hobby, volunteering, seeing children growing up well or working for a better world. A strong sence of purpose act as a buffer against stress, which is why the induviduals who have a clear goal in life lives longer. So what’s your passion in life? Why do you get up in the morning? Find your inner purpose and work towards it with love.

Exercise.
What all long lived cultures have in common is that they engage in regular, low-intensity physical activity every day. What is interesting is that longevity all-stars don’t run marathons or triathlons, they simply participate in moderate exercise such as walking, gardening and working outdoors every day for several hours. They move naturally and are active without even thinking about it. As they get older they keep on walking and being active. So rather than exercising for the sake of exercising, ty to make your life active. Ride the bike instead of driving the car and walk whenever possible. After a hard day: take a walk with a good friend. Involve in the kind of physical activity you love and do it for fun.

Diet.
All long lived cultures eat a plant based diet with focus on high carbohydrates and low fat. For example, the Okinawa diet are based on sweet potato, rice, soy, vegetables and smaller amounts of fish. The Sardinia population (Italy) rely on their whole wheat bread, fruit, vegetables and beans. All these longed lived cultures naturally eat less processed foods and less meat. When they consume meat it is occasionally (a few times a month) and in small amounts. Instead they base their meals upon what’s available aound them, such as root vegetables, vegetables, grains, fruit, beans, nuts, eggs, soy and goat’s milk (instead of cow’s milk).

Here are a few more things they practise:
eat slower
focus on the food
eat together with a company
have a seat (don’t stand while eating or be stressed)

Learn how to destress.
A 107 year old lady from Sardinia once said “Life is short. Don’t run so fast you miss it.” She knew that many of life’s precious moments pass us by if we strictly focus on our goals. A good way to slow down and destress is to meditate: it allows us to see the world as it is instead how we imagine it to be. It helps us to realize that rushing, worrying and the urgency we give to so many things really aren’t that important. So try to create a space in your home where you can meditate and set up your own routine that suits you. Yoga, laughing, being outdoors and spending time with family and friends also helps us to slow down. 

Mindset.
The longest living cultures don’t live in fancy homes or drive expensive cars – but they do feel rich in their hearts. They are satisfied with what they have. They are grateful for their families, for the food, the nature and for having a purpose in life. They also go through life with the peaceful attitude that someone is looking out for them. What are you gateful for in life? Try to adopt a attitude of gratitude in your life. Be grateful for everything you have: from your family, friends, housing, work, hobbies, the nature, your senses… everything! The key to a long and happy life is to be grateful.

 

What can we learn from this? The world’s longest living people do not only live longer, they also tend to live better. They fill their lives with quality and meaning. In the Western world we tend to distance ourselves with material things and believe that our accomplishments determines our values as humans. But sometimes we just have to step back and change our priorities in life; what is truly imortant to us? Often it’s a matter of spending time with our family and friends, finding our purpose and be grateful for the small things in life. The key to a long and happy lives lies within our own hearts.

These lessons are from Dan Buettner’s book: The Blue Zones; 9 lessons for living longer. However, I have chosen six lessons which I found to be the most important. If you are interested in learning more I highly recommend reading his book.

I wish you all the best,
Maria

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