According to the old proverb, “If you’re healthy, you’re wealthy.” From Buddha we have, “The secret of health for both mind and body, is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
So just what are the steps ‘wealthy’, I mean ‘healthy’, people follow to earn the title of living a “healthy lifestyle”? We hear that term, lifestyle, so much that we are awash in the buzzword. Back in 1995, an article about how sociological terms made their way into the pop press was published by Robert K. Merton and Alan Wolfe. They found lifestyle was used 106,607 times just between 1991 and 1993!
Psychologist Alfred Adler was credited with the first use of lifestyle in 1929. According to Adler, a person’s lifestyle is established in their earliest years of life. Thankfully, with the right thinking, we can change and grow wealthier, err…, I mean healthier.
How to create a healthy “lifestyle”
To best understand the most common lifestyles of the “healthy”, look no further than Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; and Icaria, Greece. These are the famed “Blue Zones” where, since 1999, Dan Buettner and his team of scientists began discovering super-healthy lifestyle habits in areas of the world with the longest-living people.
These are sensible, workable, functional, and easily adoptable. No “musts” or “shoulds” in this list. Remember, it’s a lifestyle, a style, not a list of requirements or life demands. If your goal is to live healthier, longer, and happier, jump in, start with the first for sure, then pick a few of the others that appeal to you…and get started:
The link is what you think. Give up demanding that life and other people act the way you insist they do. Avoid worrying about things not turning out the way you expect. Eliminate thinking that you “can’t stand or tolerate” it when you simply mean you don’t like it. Avoid at all costs globally rating yourself – you aren’t a mistake for making one. Research continues to provide evidence that positive thinking and optimism are highly related to health – from an increased life span and lower levels of distress, to better coping with hardships that are a common part of daily living.
Ordinary daily physical movement. Intentionally working out, while not common in the “Blue Zones,” however does add significantly to longevity and unquestionably boosts your emotional and physical wellbeing. Do what your body allows you to do when it comes to physical activity. Those who live a healthy lifestyle walk…they walk away from arguments that create anger and solve nothing. They walk away from those who put them down and undermine their peace of mind. They walk away from anything that poisons their soul.
Stress management and prevention
Stress management and prevention for emotional wellbeing to fully power up your mind. It isn’t what happens to you, but the way you think about what happens to you that adds to your stress. Self-compassion will help a great deal with turning away stress.
Inner sense of purpose
Do you have a sense of purpose in your life that you are not ashamed of? You better get one if you want a healthier lifestyle. Ikigai is what Okinawans refer to it as and plan de vida is what Nicoyans call it. It’s why you get up every morning, your positive energy. You do have a meaningful reason, right?
Have a “plant-slant” in your choice of foods
Emphasize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and healthy oils such as extra-virgin olive oil in your diet. Yep, not much room for ice-cream here.
Stop eating when you are 80% full, or as our Okinawa long-living friends call it Hara Hachi Bu. It’ll thwart overeating and encourages that all important mindful eating. Remember to chew your food slowly!
Ok, so skip the ice-cream, but a couple of glasses of wine everyday with friends and family seem to be associated with improved disease prognosis including helping prevent cognitive deficits and certain cancers.
“You gotta have friends,” as the song goes. Social connectedness is an essential for emotional and physical wellbeing.
Faith is another part of healthy lifestyles, including belonging to a community that is faith-based. In fact, attending weekly services may add a significant number of years to your life, as well as build inner calmness and openness to your own creativity.
Last, but not least, a top priority among those who live a healthy lifestyle is putting family first, while insuring they also love themselves and are friends with themselves.
I’d sum up the healthiest lifestyle I know this way: “Think well, to eat well, to move well, to sleep well, to love well, to live well.”