Blue Zones® research shows that having a clear sense of purpose can help people live up to seven years longer than they otherwise might. In the original blue zones areas, residents are known to place special emphasis on their reason for being. They also cultivate a positive outlook with habits that allow them to relax and de-stress, from naps to moments of prayer and remembrance. Blue Zones Project® brings practices that help people learn how to live in the moment, better manage stress, and connect with their innate gifts by discovering (or rediscovering) their purpose and taking time to downshift.
The Okinawans call it “ikigai” and the Nicoyans call it “plan de vida;” both roughly translate to “why I wake up in the morning.” Whatever you call it, a strong sense of purpose can give you up to seven extra years of life expectancy. Begin tapping into your own purpose by creating an internal inventory of your life. As best you can, articulate your values, passions, gifts, and talents. Then, think about how you can apply your strengths and purpose to your daily life, work, and community.
Stress is a common part of everyday life. But left unmanaged, it leads to chronic inflammation, which is tied to every major age-related disease. While everyone experiences stress, the world’s longest-lived people have routines to downshift to neutralize it. Okinawans take a few minutes each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, and Ikarians take a midday nap. Simple practices like these can shed stress and help people downshift—in the workplace, at home, and almost anywhere else.
Take 10 minutes for yourself to pause, relax, and reset with a brief guided meditation.