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Almost every study of longevity indicates one secret that makes people healthier and happier: Helping others. Some research shows a 60 percent decrease in mortality figures among those who help others; they're aided by what's called the "helper's high."
Specifically, it's the dignity, the joy, the passion, and the purpose of helping others -- whether it's helping another person quit smoking, or building a person in need a home, or mentoring a child at school -- that have these beneficial effects.
Helping others inspires gratitude for what life has given you, and this is what really turbo-charges your happiness -- and helps you define your own purpose in life. After all, the real secret may be realizing that true peace isn't about being happy, giddy, and feeling like you're charged up on Red Bull all the time. It's about slowing down enough to realize that you have a lot of gifts -- gifts that you should be passing along to others.
Experts who have visited places that are designated as blue zones and who have interviewed people living there said the secrets to living long lives are not found in pills, vitamins or supplements.
National Geographic writer Dan Buettner compiled the nine commonly known tips from people in every known blue zone culture for his book about the blue zones. Those tips are:
- Move naturally
- Cut calories
- Avoid eating processed foods and meat
- Drink alcohol, red wine, in particular, in moderation
- Keep your family first
- Reduce your stress levels
- Belong to a community
- Maintain a positive outlook
- Surround yourself with people who have the same kind of blue zone values as you have
In Sardinia, for instance, sheepherders spend a good deal of their time walking, and inhabitants frequently drink red wines that are rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants that slow the aging process. Residents of Okinawa are known to drink mugwort sake, to remain active and to honor the elderly. Indeed, the majority of extended families either lives together or lives close by. On the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Ricans make a living as farmers. They also drink large quantities of red wine. In the only blue zone in the United States -- Loma Linda, Calif. - a large population of Seventh-Day Adventists has developed a close community. They maintain strict diets and remain healthy, even though they live near the smoggy, densely populated city of Los Angeles.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.