The Blue Zones
You may remember Dan Buettner from The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest which I read back in 2015. His newest book The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons from the World’s Happiest People came out last year.
As the titles suggest, the first book deals with longevity and this book deals with a person’s sense of happiness and purpose. Buettner talks about the pillars of happiness which are pleasure, purpose, and pride and how each contribute to overall well-being. The happiest people you meet will represent all of these qualities in their lives. (Spoiler: I will be talking about happiness in my monthly mindfulness post – look for it at the end of the week).
Tips for a Happier Life
Buettner visited three of the (statistically) happiest places in the world: Aalborg Denmark, Singapore, and Cartago Costa Rica. Just like in the original Blue Zones, he profiles one person from each country and learns about their life and livelihood to better understand the phenomenon. Along the way, here are just some of the takeaways that he learned about how to live a happier life:
- Develop daily social rituals
- Establish a weekly family ritual
- Eat together at work
- Avoid the status trap
- Take six weeks of vacation
- Plan purchases, savor shopping
- Favor security over unlimited freedom
- Live your values
- Find your tribe
Each of these will mean very different things to different people, and that’s the point. The idea is, you adopt these practices in ways that make sense for your lifestyle.
Buettner makes a great point that it may sound difficult to adopt these practices in the United States, it can be done.
I loved this quote in particular:
“We often hear our politicians referring to their jobs in government as ‘public service’ or promising to make our country great again. If leaders want to serve us, their job should be to listen to the emerging wealth of data that tells us how to manufacture happiness in nations. As a voter, you can choose to support leaders who value policies based on research that are designed to support well-being. Your happiness and the happiness of your community can only thrive when public policies are designed to nudge toward well-being – and endorsing change in this direction can help everyone.” -Dan Buettner
The second half of the book is devoted to the practicalities of designing happier communities in the United States as a means of replicating those Buettner saw abroad. It involves things like keeping communities active, de-stressing, and designing a healthy food environment. Incorporating these qualities into everyday life can be easy if you start small.
This was a great, thought-provoking book that I will be keeping on my reading list, along with the original Blue Zones. Over time, I learn something new each time I read them, making them invaluable resources to share.