Much has been written over the last few years about regions around the world called Blue Zones. Blue Zones are places where the number of people living long and healthy lives, many up to 100 years old and above, are higher than average. Everything about the lifestyles of these centenarians has been researched and the findings can help us as we commit to creating our authentic lives.
It goes without saying that diet and exercise were high on the list of things that set these folks apart from the rest of us. They all ate what was available locally, much of it grown and harvested with their own hands. This means that they only ate and grew what was indigenous to the area. They also prepared all their own meals … the only “fast food” was a cup of locally grown and brewed coffee from the local coffee shop. Alcohol was taken in moderation and mostly, also, locally brewed or pressed.
Exercise also played a huge role in their lives. People didn’t need an alarm clock. They rose with the sun and went to bed when it went down. Their bodies were in sync with the natural rhythms of the earth and the seasons. They were not afraid of hard work, and put in a full day in the fields, at their jobs, or in their homes.
Everyone that was interviewed said that an important element of the day was when the family all gathered around the table for the evening meal, multi-generations all living in the same house. That time was sacred. No one ate sitting in front of a TV, or with an electronic device in their hand. Their only communication was with each other, sharing their day and being in gratitude to be together.
These concepts are well worth taking note of, but there were two others that I think speak to us the most as we go about creating a life that speaks to us. These two concepts were: a sense of purpose, and community. Each one of them greeted the new day with a sense of purpose. They all had something that called them to be out in the world serving a purpose, whether it was to earn a living, work in the fields, keep house, cook meals, assist with child-rearing, or even doing the laundry. They considered it a gift to be able to stay fit and healthy for the betterment of themselves and their families. They were also nourished by their sense of community. There was no such things in their vocabulary as loneliness or isolation. Not only did they spend regular time together with their peers, but also with different age groups. One group of grandmothers in Okinawa were in charge of entertaining and assisting with little ones in schools and day care centers. Young and old learned from each other.
Reading about these beautiful people, listening to their testimonies and watching the documentaries about their lives has been very inspirational for me. It not only reminded me of the elders in my own Italian-American family, but reminded me that more often than not, it is the simple, down-to-earth things that have the most positive effect on our lives. As actress Lauren Bacall was fond of saying: “ I figure if I have my health, can pay the rent, and I have my friends, I call it content.” I call it a beautiful, authentic life.
This week over on the Home Page, our writing assignment is going to challenge you to think like a centenarian! As always, have fun with this and remember to always keep writing. Peace and blessings!