“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around every once in a while, you might miss it.” — Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
You can add up to 12 years to your life, and look and feel younger along the way. Research shows that genes only account for 10% of our longevity and the rest is our lifestyle.
The Blue Zones teach us a lot about how to live longer, healthier, happier lives. Dan Buettner and the National Geographic team of explorers studied the Blue Zones to identify the keys to adding years to your life, and life to your years.
By adopting the patterns and practices from the world’s healthiest spots, you too can add years to your life, and life to your years.
9 Ways to Add Years to Your Life
Dan Buettner shares 9 ways to add life to your years, and years to your life:
- Move Naturally
- Know Your Purpose
- Down Shift
- 80% Rule
- Plant Slant
- Wine at 5
- Family First
- Right Tribe
Buettner refers to these 9 habits as the Power 9. His simple frame for adding years is that moving naturally adds 4 years, having the right outlook adds 4 years, eating wisely adds 8 years, and connecting adds 4 years. (That’s a total of 20 years, but I guess you only get to keep up to 12.)
Here are some ideas on how to turn this insight into action …
1. Move Naturally
Find a way to move it, move it. Walking is a great example. Regular, low-intensity physical activity can add years to your life. In the places where people live the longest, people are constantly nudged into activity. It’s part of their daily life. If they do an intentional activity, then it’s something they enjoy.
2. Know Your Purpose
Find your ikigai. Ikigai is a word in Okinawan that roughly means, “the reason for which you wake up in the morning.” If you know your purpose, you can add years to your life. In fact, people that know their purpose live up to seven years long than those who don’t. If you need help finding your purpose, check out Discover Your Why and explore the Purpose Pack.
3. Down Shift
Stop and smell the roses. In a world that’s always on, you need to find your way to turn it off. Research shows that chronic inflammation from stress is related to every major age-related disease. One of the most effective ways to deal with stress is to learn the relaxation response. Rather than respond with a stress response, you can teach your body to respond with a relaxation response. It’s something you can learn, and then practice for life. See Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief.
4. 80% Rule
Eat until you are 80% full. According to Buettner, Okinawas, begin every meal by saying, “Hara hachi bu!” The saying translates to “Eat until you’re 80% full.” In addition, Buettner also recommends eating slowly off smaller plates to make smaller meals more satisfying. See Hara hachi bu (Wikipedia.)
5. Plant Slant
Eat mostly a plant-based diet. The diet should be heavy on beans, nuts and green plants. This is consistent with Dr. Joel Fuhrman who focuses on nutritional density for health and he reverses disease through nutrition. See Dr. Joel Fuhrman.
6. Wine at 5
Drink two glasses of wine per day if you want to live longer. Buettner says that the research shows drinkers out-live non-drinkers. In Sardinia, Italy, one of the “Blue Zones,” the men live the longest in the world, and they have ten times more centenarians than in America. A key factor may be that their Wine has three times the level of polyphenal antioxidants than any type of wine in the world.
7. Family First
Put your family first. Buettner says that a thriving family can add up to six years. In Okinawa, the older you get, the more equity you have. The more wisdom you’re celebrated for. This is good for aging parents. It’s also good for the children of those families. They have lower rates of mortality and lower rates of disease. It’s called — “The grandmother effect.”
Connect. Buettner says that people who show up to their faith community four times a month live an extra 4-14 years. In America’s Blue Zone, Loma Unco, California, the Adventists community celebrate their Sabbath from Sunset on Friday to Sunset on Saturday. It’s their 24 hour sanctuary sanctuary in time.
9. Right Tribe
Thrive with your tribe. Your social circle can add security and social networking. According to Buettner, five years ago the average American had three good friends. There’s strength in numbers and it helps to know someone has your back.