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Is There A Secret To A Long And Healthy Life?

Written by: Marina Gross, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Marina Gross

Every year especially at this early, fresh and hopeful time many of us spend a lot of money on gym memberships, supplements and diet plans in the pursuit of a successful attempt at cultivating new habits and elevating our health.

A woman is jogging outdoor.

Because we care about our well-being and genuinely want to improve our lifestyle and the way we show up for ourselves. The words “anti-stress” and “anti-age” or “anti-inflammation” keep popping up in Google search, as we look for tools, advice and help to get (back) on track towards our health and wellness goals.


However, despite our most sincere efforts and purest intentions, recent statistics show that 2/3 of the world population are likely to die prematurely of a lifestyle disease that could be prevented. So what are we doing wrong?


Time for a fresh perspective


As we fail to keep our resolutions year after year and desperately search for a new quick-fix to reveal a shortcut to solving a health issue or achieving a wellness goal, it leaves one wondering if there could be another, more sustainable and thereby successful approach to taking care of our well- being.


Here is a humble suggestion: how about we shift our mindset from “anti” something and instead welcome a fresh perspective of “pro” living?


You see, when we set our yearly resolutions or look for short cuts and quick-fixes to better and thriving health and well-being, we automatically navigate our mind and actions to focus on the issue, focus of fixing something that is wrong, to force a radical change that cannot and will not happen overnight.


So how about instead of short-term measures and an “all or nothing” mindset that makes us give up our intentions as our patience for desired results fails, we welcome a sustainable, life-lasting transformation by focusing on long-term care of our body, mind and soul and filling our days with rituals, practices and habits - even the smallest ones that truly nourish us inside and out? And instead of training ourselves to focus on the lack, restrictions and rules to follow, we shift our perspective to taking daily little right actions that each compound into a beautiful journey of prioritizing joy, peace, health and truly being and feeling well?


The wisdom of the blue zones


To dive into the “how-tos” of this approach, let’s turn to the wisdom of the so-called Blue Zones: five totally different places in each their own corners of the Earth that have a common denominator of producing some of the longest living people on the planet, all while living a vibrant, healthy, active, joyful, happy, vital and energetic lives with the lowest rates of lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.


Sounds like all the things we desire, right?


Which makes us wonder, how people from these five longevity hot-spots can effortlessly succeed at achieving optimal health and well-being and sustainably maintaining it throughout a lifetime, while we keep trying and failing.


The secret that the people of Ikaria in Greece, Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, Nicoya in Costa Rica and Loma Linda in California seem to have in common despite of the differences in cultures, locations and languages, is their approach to health that is less about fighting aging, stress or disease, and more about making health their way of life by going back to simple things that allow them to live a long and healthy life, while simultaneously making life worth living.


The four magic ingredients


The key to unlocking a thriving, fulfilling, healthy and nourishing life according to the wisdom of the Blue Zones are four simple wellness ingredients: natural movement, mindset, mindful eating and connection. And here is how we also can make them part of our lifestyle and daily routines.


Natural movement


Most people spend the majority of their day sitting down, as we have eliminated and engineered out a lot of natural physical activity by introducing housekeeping help like a dishwasher or a laundry machine, convenient means of transportation, screen time for work and entertainment and an overall more sedentary, indoors way of living that unfortunately takes a negative turn at our health and well-being. And when we do exercise, we oftentimes associate it with “suffering” and a forceful, energy draining “have to” mindset.


What if instead of tortuting yourself for hours a day in the gym, you focus on inviting natural movement into your day: take the stairs, go for a walk in the park, walk from A to B when possible, try gardening, dance, play sports and just move. These types of low intensity, natural physical activity with a wide range of motion strengthens the core, improves balance and carries multiple other health benefits for both our body, our mind and our soul.


Mindful eating


No supplement or diet can substitute a mindful and natural way of eating. Just as no one single food, as rich on nutrients as it may be, is going to do the trick and help you stay healthy and vibrant all the time.

However, adopting a habit of eating a wide variety of whole, fresh, unprocessed, natural foods, as well as mindfully adding in different fruits, vegetables, legumes, good protein sources, nuts and seeds rather than radically removing certain foods and restricting yourself seems to be one of the essential ingredients for a vital, energetic and healthy life.


And there is no rocket science behind this piece of advice from the Blue Zones. Because the food that we eat every day actually becomes the fuel, the nourishment and the building blocks of our entire body and mind. So when you eat, the food you consume impacts longevity, immunity, brain health, hormonal balance, mental well-being, energy, vitality and everything in between.


And while there should, without a doubt, be space for favourite treats and moments of indulging in less heathy foods, let the majority of your food intake be fresh, whole, natural and nourishing foods that nurture and fuel your body and mind from within.


You are what you eat, remember?


Meaningful connections


The number one predictor of longevity, according to science, is the number of positive relationships in our lives, be it with our family, friends, co-workers, hobby-buddies or barista at our go-to coffee place.


As human beings we are wired for connection, and it is one of our basic and most essential needs. In fact, there is a huge difference between us, humans, and other species on planet Earth but not in the way you may think.


You see, every other species that we share this mutual home of ours with are specially designed and adapted for being and living in certain surroundings and in biology, these surroundings are referred to as that particular species’ “niche”. For example, monkeys are specifically biologically designed to live on trees, while fish is evolutionary designed and adapted to thrive in water.


However, in contrast to every other living organism here on Earth, humans do not have a special environmental niche we are each other’s niche. This means that just like a fish is designed and adapted to live and thrive in a specific type of water, we as humans are designed and adapted to live and thrive in a social ecosystem, surrounded by people we love and care about.


That is why having positive, loving, uplifting and supportive relationships is so important for us as human beings, both for our mental and physical health and well-being and the quality of our life we are simply each other’s “trees” and “water”.


However, in our modern society, more and more of us experience loneliness and isolation, despite the fact that we have never been more virtually connected than we are now. But it seems that with an increase in online presence, we have neglected the meaning and fulfilment of offline communities.


Spend time with people you love and care about. Spend time with people who radiate positive energy and lift you up. Invest in your relationships and build strong, meaningful bonds with like-minded individuals. Invest in creating memories that make you happy and bring you joy with people who make your heart smile. Spread kindness wherever you go, even in the smallest of ways.


Positive mindset


Last, but definitely not least, wellness ingredient for a long, thriving and healthy life according to the wisdom of the Blue Zones is our mindset.


Everything in our life starts with our mind and the quality of our mindset: our beliefs, our thoughts, and our self-talk that then impact our feelings that influence our actions and the way we show up for ourselves and the way we show up in our lives every day.


And it seems that when it comes to cultivating a better mindset that helps elevate not only our mental, but also our physical health and well-being, especially one crucial aspect that every one of the Blue Zones have in common is purpose.


What is it that makes you come alive and fills your life with deeply felt meaning? What makes you excited about tomorrow? What makes you jump out of bed in the morning and keep going and doing the things you do every day? What fills your life with joy, laughter, love, well-being and a sense of true fulfilment? What gives you energy and makes you feel alive?


The Japanese call it “ikigai”, while Costa Ricans refer to it as “plan de vida”, however the bottom line transcends the names. Being aware of your purpose, however it looks like to you, and having a sense of direction in your life, even when you do not know it all or have all the answers, is what is going to get you through tough times in life. Having a strong faith in life will add meaning and a sense of mission to your journey. Training your mind to focus on the good around you will instantly enrich your experience, elevate your spirits and transform the mundane into the extraordinary. And indulging in and enjoying the present moment will ensure that you do not miss the small moments that make up a lifetime that are not small at all.


Health is a journey of a lifetime towards a long and healthy life


For many of us wanting to create better and healthier habits, improve our health and elevate our well-being has become a chase for a new quick-fix: a diet, a supplement, a workout plan, a short cut, a mindset of “if I do this one thing, it is going to solve my issues”.


However, it is the things that we do every day, day in and day out, for months, years and decades that dictate and shape the state and quality of our health and well-being. So let us shift our focus from lack and quick-fixing and trying to avoid certain things to filling our days with things that bring us joy, that nourish our mind, body and soul and make us come alive. Taking little right actions of self-care that allow us to experience life to the fullest. Making our mental and physical health and well-being our daily priority in whatever capacity possible.


Because not every day is going to be perfect, but it is the continuous coming back to practices, habits and rituals big or small that will compound into a lifetime of nourishment, vitality, energy, meaning, fulfilment, purpose and joy.


Let us take good care of ourselves not because something is broken, or because someone said we have to, but because it is simply our way of living that makes us come alive.


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Marina Gross Brainz Magazine
 

Marina Gross, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Marina Gross is a Holistic Health Coach and mental health advocate, who specializes in stress management and holistic well-being. In a world, where mental health is continuously declining and many experience stress, anxiety and burnout, it is Marina's passion and mission to make mindful health accessible and attainable for all. She is the founder of Inspired Change Co, the online holistic wellness and health coaching platform, and her work is purposed to inspire, educate and empower readers and clients to make their health a daily priority and cultivate a nourishing life that feels good inside and out.

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