The blue zones have become somewhat legendary in the health world. These settlements, full of centenarians, are the epitome of longevity, where everyone has lifestyles that I know we’re all slightly jealous of.
Beuttner has spent an incredible amount of time and effort collating information from around the world, and then distilling it into simple lessons we can all learn from.
These lessons, which he calls “Power Habits” are as follows:
- Move Naturally. This doesn’t mean marathon length running races, or bodybuilding in the gym. These have never been on the minds of the oldest people in the world. Instead, incorporate movement into your day. Walk to work. Tend to your garden.
- Have Purpose. Almost everyone in the blue zones have a reason to wake up in the morning. What this is seems to be irrelevant. As long as you have a reason to get out of bed.
- Downshift. Research is beginning to show the incredible benefits of stress reduction, and Beuttner has many people who with anecdotal evidence. Common methods are meditation, mindfulness, and prayer.
- 80% Rule. This one is simple. Only eat until you are 80% full. Don’t overload your body.
- Plant Slant. I must say I’m not shocked that the majority of their diets consist of local, homegrown plants, with only small amounts of meat eaten throughout the month. Beans feature heavily and are prepared correctly, to increase nutrient density.
- Wine. My favourite rule on the list! One to two glasses of wine are consumed throughout the day, and sometimes even at breakfast! There is always friendship or food included with the wine, and never binge drinking.
- Right Tribe. There has recently been mention in the news of loneliness being the next big killer, which would tie in perfectly with the research in the book. Communities in the blue zones are designed to promote healthiness and reduce loneliness. Communal meals play a central role, and each member plays an important part in the community.
Sadly, most of us barely know our neighbors!
- Faith. Most people interviewed belong to a faith.
- Loved Ones First.
- Look after your elders.
- Commit to your partner.
- Invest in your children
Reading through these rules I couldn’t help but realise how different this is my life. Embarrassingly I didn’t actually follow a single one of these when I began the book.
I think this goes deeper than just following rules though. It has made me stop and think about the society I’m living in. The society almost all of us are living in.
I can’t help but think that we’re surrounded by technology and work environments set up for the complete opposite. I wake up in the morning and drive my car to work. Where I spend 8 hours hunched over in my chair, staring at a computer screen. Except for the 30 minute rushed lunch break! I then grab a few ingredients from the super market on my way home if I’m feeling healthy (otherwise it’s probably a takeaway). Purchase these through the self service terminals though, nothing say’s community engagement like talking to a robot checkout assistant! To then go home and maybe spend the little time I have left socialising.
Am I following any of these rules at all?
Are any of us following these rules?!
This was one of the only low points I felt reading this book. Everything else was inspiring.
Although, maybe realising this is what made the book so inspiring. These communities live frugally, with meaning and surrounded by people who value them.
There is a lot to be learned by the utter simplicity of it all.