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A hope note

One of the most fascinating studies on health, happiness and longevity in our time is being conducted by Dan Buettner. National Geographic has sent him around the globe to study ‘blue zones,’ places where people not only have more years in their life but more life in their years.
Buettner’s travels have taken him to the Italian island of Sardinia, the Japanese island of Okinawa and the Nicovan Peninsula on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Men in Nicova make it to their 100th birthday four times more often than men in the United States, even though their medical bills are only about 7 percent as much.
We’re not surprised by his findings that the people in these ‘blue zones’ are physically active throughout life, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and little meat, and drink a glass or two of red wine every day. We’ve been hearing for 50 years now that poor eating habits and little exercise are killing us.
Buettner has observed two things that are not so widely known. One is that people who live both long and large place a high premium on family, friends and religion. A bottle of diet pills or vitamins probably doesn’t contribute as much to longevity as having a caring, supportive community around us.
Two, those who live long and large talk freely about purpose in life. In Okinawa, for example, there is no word for ‘retirement.’ There is another word that roughly translates to ‘that which makes life worth living.’ Men there have one-fifth as much cancer as Americans and one-quarter as much heart disease.
Buettner’s new book from National Geographic is titled ‘The Blue Zone.’ Take his ‘vitality compass’ at and learn how long you’re likely to live given your current life habits.