Blue Zones are places on the planet where the healthiest, happiest and longest living people reside. Apparently there are five such locations, as identified by explorer, author, and National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner, who has who spent years collaborating with scientists, anthropologists, and demographers, to study how people live well in various parts of the world.
The story goes that when Buettner and his colleagues were identifying these areas, they drew blue circles around them on a map.
Since my zip code is not on the color spectrum, I set out to see what well-being practices these communities had in common in hopes of creating my own Blue Zone right where I’m already planted. Here’s what I found…
We are influenced by our environment:
Here in America where our society idealizes youthfulness and vitality, “ageism” has a way of making us older adults feel devalued and invisible, with little to offer. Especially as women, we’re now the target market for the latest “anti-aging” and “age-defying” products in an endless quest to be something better than we already are.
In Blue Zones, elders are highly respected for their wisdom and experience, and they remain engaged with a sense of purpose. The Okinawans call it “ikigai” or “reason for being,” and Costa Ricans call it “plan de vida” or “why I wake up in the morning.” Either way, studies have shown that having a sense of purpose extends life expectancy by eight years.
Blue Zones Lifestyle Habits
If you wish to dive deeper into Blue Zones, check out the wealth of info from Dan Buettner at bluezones.com.
While it’s clear there’s no secret formula or one size fits all approach to longevity and living our best lives, Blue Zones are terrific examples of consciousness in action – moving, eating intentionally, and connecting.
Beyond locations on a map, if our environment plays a crucial role in our well-being, it’s on us to shape our surroundings with a supportive operating system within ourselves. I’ve found it to be more of an inside job that begins with awareness and what you do with it. There’s great freedom in the choices I get to make to create a life of my design, in harmony with my mind, body and spirit. Being open and invested in the everyday choices I make sets me on a path of rediscovering all the pieces of me. It’s nice to be filled with wonder at 65. I’m like a kid again who can’t wait to go outside to play.
What choices are you making for you?