These lessons are from the book The Blue Zones: 9 Power Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest, by Dan Buettner. Blue Zones are places where people live longer and healthier than anywhere else on the planet, passing their centennial years at a rate 10 times greater than most Americans.
As Buettner and his team studied the Blue Zones, they identified nine common traits shared by those communities where people live longer. He was surprised that it wasn't only food and lifestyle, but also creating a most beneficial environment. Here's a look at these longevity-boosting traits, known as the "Power of 9":
1. Move naturally. "Do your own house and yard work, go up and down your stairs with your laundry, knead your own dough," Buettner advises. "Incorporate more movement every hour."
2. Know your purpose. "Take time to recognize your values, strengths, talents, passions and gifts," Buettner says. Reflect, and work on yourself.
3. Down shift. Relieve chronic stress by finding time each day to nap, meditate or pray.
4. The 80% rule. Cut 20 percent of your daily calories with proven healthy practices: eat a big breakfast, dine with your family, and begin each meal by expressing appreciation.
5. Plant slant. Eat mostly plant-based foods, and small portions of meat no more than twice a week.
6. Wine at 5. Drinkers live longer than non-drinkers. This longevity tip had one exception: those in the Loma Linda Blue Zone were Seventh Day Adventists, who abstain from alcohol. (I also take exception with this one. Other than religious reasons, there is the glaring concern of how many people are unable to control the portions of their alcoholic intake, therefore making any seeming positive healthy benefit to small portions of wine questionable.)
7. Family first. Living in a loving, thriving family can add up to six years to your life. Work on a positive, committed relationship and stay close to your aging parents and grandparents.
8. Belong. "Those with the most social connectedness tend to live longer," Buettner says. Be part of a group of healthy-minded, supportive people.
9. Right tribe. Good friends have a positive effect on your longevity. Support them and adopt healthy behaviors together.