Do you want to live to 100?

Do you want to live to be 100?

Have you ever heard of the Blue Zones?

Although this concept launched in the early 2000’s, somehow, I missed it.  Probably because I was in Moscow, and we barely had internet at that point.  Basically, Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow, decided to expand demographic work on longevity previously conducted by researchers, Gianni Pes and Michel Poulin.  They had identified Sardinia as the first “Blue Zone,” where people lived much longer than average.  Together, they later confirmed 5 places on earth where people live to be 100…on a regular basis.

So, how do they do it?  Unsurprisingly, diet and daily physical activity are factors.  And there are definitely vegetables and beans involved in the magic formula.  But what intrigued me was that a defining component of their increased longevity was the presence of community and close interpersonal relationships.

We need each other to live.

There is research to back this up.  In my article, “Kindness – An Undervalued Resource,” I go into detail about how the feelings of connection and compassion that accompany acts of kindness make us healthier and prolong our lives.  And being part of a lasting community is a crucial way to sustain those connections.

What defines “community” these days?

Life is changing.  There is no doubt about it.  Just last month at my high school reunion, we were discussing how, when we were kids, we all went to Youth Group.  Now, even among those friends who still attend church, none of their kids were in Youth Group.  Church isn’t the only place attendance is down.  Other traditional communities like school organizations, scouts, and volunteering have also dropped. 

But new types of communities are popping up.

More of us go to CrossFit or book club or have a text group chat that we participate in regularly.  The increased capabilities of technology have profoundly affected our traditional view of community.  But do these new types of communities increase our longevity?  I think they can.  But, I also think we have to be honest with ourselves about what those relationships are really providing us to know the answer to that question. 

It takes time and energy to foster relationships and build community.  And life these days makes it so easy to not take that time.  I know this very well because I fall prey to it myself.  So often, I find myself texting people when I know in my gut I should be dialling their number to have a real conversation. 

So often, I find myself texting people when I know in my gut I should be dialling their number to have a real conversation.

How do I know if my relationships are really giving me what I need?

You know that warm “jolt” of a feeling that makes you smile after you do something nice for someone or that glow you feel inside after a great conversation with your friend?  That’s going to make us live longer.  Feeling real, consistent support in times of hardship, knowing you’ve helped someone in a time of need…being part of something greater than just yourself. 

Acts of kindness are a great way to foster relationships.

So, if you feel like you’re lacking community, you can start there.  It’s the perfect way to make a new friend.  And if you know that you’ve got it covered, that’s fantastic – keep building it up for others around you as well.  Soon, we’ll all be on our way to living that Blue Zone life.

Do you feel like you are part of a community?  Tell me about it and how it makes your life better.  As always, let’s be kindful of each other.

If you want to find out more about Blue Zones, I really enjoyed this Ted Talk.


  • Julie M. O’Neill says:

    Patty, I’m sorry I missed everyone at the reunion. I am so interested in what you are doing here with kindness and outreach. The year of isolation and distancing did a number in my brain. I need others in my life. Even smiles from strangers make me happier. Thank you for making this a priory.

    • Patricia Makatsaria says:

      Julie – we missed you! Yes, the past year was really tough on most of us. You were definitely not alone in that. I love that you recognize that even smiles from strangers make an impact. Even the little things make a difference. Thanks for reading!

  • Jami Murphy says:

    I remember when the Blue Zones Diet Book came out…we were slammed at the bookstore. We took a zillion orders for it. Unfortunately once most folks read the recipes we had a lot of returns!! LOL! Love this post. I’ve been thinking so much about community lately. XO

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