We have felt discouraged from time to time. It is a universal human emotion.
It comes from having plans or goals that aren’t just falling quickly into place. Or maybe it feels like things are just taking way too long. And we start to doubt ourselves.
We think about giving up. Quitting that project. “That idea was stupid anyway.” “Why did we actually think we could succeed?”
Discouragement can lead to depression and despair if it occurs often enough or if we are already battling with these in our lives.
There are some things that make discouragement worse:
Not being rested. If we are tired or sleep deprived things just seem worse than they really are. We aren’t able to put things in their proper perspective.
We keep missing our goals — we aren’t feeling successful in many, if any, areas of our life. If we have problems in one area of our life and then something unrelated also isn’t working out it is easy to become discouraged.
We have a poor, or no, support system. Everyone needs a sounding board and at least one person to believe in us. A cheerleader to lift us up when we fall. If people close to us aren’t supportive, discouragement is easier.
Fear — of what people will think, fear of failing, fear of succeeding and fear of not being good enough. Fear makes our risk of getting discouraged or giving up worse.
We are believing everything we think. Our thoughts are these little-untrained monkeys running around giving us random stuff. “I am not _______ enough” is the most common self-defeating thought we have. (Fill in the blank with your own specific belief.)
If you are feeling discouraged about your project, your writing, your creative endeavours, or your life, then now is the time to look at your discouragement as a catalyst for change. Use this time of feeling down to start again.
Here are some useful things that you can do to turn your discouragement into inspiration and positivity:
1. Use it — it is a message. Look at what you are doing. Change something, in your approach, your message, your timing, whatever. Reorganize things, even just slightly. Try a new approach.
2. Take care of yourself. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Sleep affects our mental state profoundly. If you aren’t getting enough — fix this first. I promise it will be worth it.
There is no easy answer to how much sleep you actually need or should get. We are all different and our need for sleep can vary widely.
On average, adults need about 7 hours per night, with the general range being 7–9 hours. Older adults have the same basic needs. A child needs more sleep, as do teenagers.
3. Find a support group or person. It can be even here on Medium. People who see what you are trying to do and will only offer constructive criticism and praise.
Stop hanging around and feeding the haters and non-supporters. Just say no.
People need to feel valued and listened to. Our creative endeavours and ideas and goals are babies. They need to be treated with care.
Don’t be afraid to get constructive criticism. We need this to improve.
Ask for help if you need it — a mentor, or even a helpful, friendly voice — can be a huge asset.
4. Start questioning your thoughts. Often we can get stuck in negative cycles of thought and, worse yet, believe them.
You don’t have to believe your thoughts. Start questioning the ones that are causing you depression, discouragement and stress.
Just start by noticing the thought and then just ask, “really?” or some other version.
And, yes, you are enough.
5. Go for a walk outside. Or do something physical. Moving can help release more positive endorphins, plus you get a break.
And don’t forget to really breathe. Breath is a bridge between our body and mind (yoga philosophy here) and we often our breathing is shallow. Breath deeply and mindfully on your walk.
6. Stop comparing yourself to others. It is very easy to get discouraged when you look and see how well other people are doing.
7. Remember your successes. Even if they are small. Remind yourself of the strengths you have. Celebrate your wins. We all have them.
If you really cannot think of any, ask a loved one to tell you some! Be proud of what you have accomplished so far!
8. Remind yourself of the big picture. Rome wasn’t conquered in a day. Good things take time. All the cliches have a common element. Persistence wins.
James Dyson, inventor of the Dyson Vacuums, failed more than 5000 times trying to find the version of his vacuum that actually worked. It took more than 15 years to be successful. Now he is the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company.
Do not underestimate the power of patience, persistence and looking at the big picture.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill
Michelle Fyfe has been a pharmacist for over 25 years and is passionate about using holistic, natural methods of achieving true health; developing new, healthy and simple lifestyles with a side effect of increased energy, happiness and fulfillment.
We all want to be healthy. Often we take our health for granted. Many of us will ignore taking care of ourselves until we develop some kind of illness or condition that slows us down.
It is a shame that we wait.
Health is not valued till sickness comes. Thomas Fuller
There are some easy ways to start a healthier, happier and more fulfilled way of life.
Start cooking more meals at home and eating out less. You will not only get more nutrition, eat fewer calories but you will save a ton of money.
2. Stop drinking any type of sweetened drink. Coffees, soda pop, juices, whatever. If it is sweetened, even artificially, stop drinking it. Or at least slowly start to wean yourself off of these liquid calorie and sugar bombs.
3. Move your body for at least 30 minutes a day.
Walking is nice.
4. Decrease sugar consumption. I’ve written about the dangers of sugar before here, but I want to stress it again. Sugar is literally poison and is strongly addictive.
5. Connect with someone, a real person, every day. Loneliness and isolation aren’t healthy and contribute to anxiety and depression. My article on loneliness talks more about the health risks and what you can do to battle it.
6. Eat fruits and veggies. Lots. Daily. There is a plethora of scientific evidence showing the benefits of a high intake of plants.
7. Supplement your diet. I recommend a Vitamin D supplement, Omega-3 supplement and a good well-rounded multivitamin. This ensures any gaps in your diet are mostly covered. Other supplements can possibly help if you have certain medical conditions.
8. Work on your sleep. Try to clean up your bedtime routine so that you can get 6–8 hours of sleep. We all have a sweet spot. Find out how much sleep you need for optimal alertness and health.
9. Find your passion and try to spend as much of your free time following this. Passion will fuel your creativity, happiness and fulfillment of life.
Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you. Oprah Winfrey
10. Avoid negative people, negative substances and negativity in general. If you focus on being positive in the world and bringing mostly positive things into your life, your life will feel more blessed.
How are we using social media? It can make a huge impact on our lives and the lives of our network and so it’s a good idea to evaluate your usage.
I use it to keep in touch with my family and friends. It has become much more routinely used that a simple text or (gasp!) a phone call. I sometimes wonder if I even need a phone plan — maybe I just need access to wifi? Anyway, I digress.
My concern is the content that we are contributing to these social media sites.
Are we posting content and comments — oh especially those comments — that make the world a better place?
My personal unease comes from the fact that so much of what we see on media, social media too, is negative and critical.
Yes, there are numerous things in society that we don’t like and DO need to change. But I believe that change MUST start with myself. And then spread to my close family and friends, then our community, then the country, then our world.
As globalization expands and borders blur, our messages on social media can impact someone in another part of the world instantly.
Don’t we want to impact positively?
The butterfly effect — where a small initial change can lead to a more dramatic and far-reaching change — can happen with social media.
If we promote hate and violence, and our comments are hateful, racist and condescending — are we spreading a seed of hate, through the butterfly effect? Perhaps we are.
I am not saying ignore the negative and upsetting news stories. It’s not good to hide our heads under the sand.
I am simply hoping that more and more people will spread helpful ideas, positive ways to change things, good news, and be supportive with their global brothers and sisters.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi
Because social media is so pervasive in our society today we can affect a change simply by promoting positive change within our circle of influence.
Maybe we don’t need to make that hurtful comment. Or share that hurtful story. Maybe we could all find solutions instead? Helpful solutions.
I have resolved to not promote any story of hate or negativity. I want our world to be more positive. And it starts with me — and my social media activity.
This is an amazing statistic, that is a huge percentage. And it is negatively affecting our nation’s health.
Many people feel that these drinks are safe and no big deal. However, the evidence is out there showing the harm that these beverages cause. Despite the research, the companies making these drinks often promote them as “good” choices for our diet.
The soft-drink industry has consistently portrayed its products as being positively healthful, saying they are 90% water and contain sugars found in nature.
A poster that the National Soft Drink Association provided to teachers in the past stated:
Also, look at this comment made by M. Douglas Ivester, Coca-Cola’s chairman and CEO, defending marketing in Africa, who said:
Actually, our product is quite healthy. Fluid replenishment is a key to health… Coca-Cola does a great service because it encourages people to take in more and more liquids. (New York Times. May 26, 1998, p.D1)
In fact, soft drinks pose health risks both because of what they contain (for example, sugar and various additives) and what they replace in the diet (beverages and foods that provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients). (Liquid Sugar Report)
A typical 12 ounce soft drink contains about 10 teaspoonsful of sugar. This is a large pile of sugar that most of us are drinking thoughtlessly every day!
There are many dangers to our health that we expose ourselves to when we drink soda and other sweetened drinks. Here are some of the striking facts:
• The preponderance of scientific evidence shows that consumption of sugar drinks promotes weight gain.
• Caloric beverages contribute to weight gain more than solid foods because the body doesn’t compensate fully for beverage calories by reducing calorie intake later in the day.
• Adults who drink one sugary drink or more per day are 27 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than non-drinkers, regardless of income or ethnicity.
• Drinking one sugar-sweetened beverage per day is associated with an 18 percent increase in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Sugar-sweetened beverages were linked to a higher risk of diabetes even after accounting for their impact on weight.
• Consuming one or more sodas per day increases one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 26 percent compared to those who rarely consume such drinks.
• Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.
• Diabetes can result in various health complication such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and premature death.
We are facing a diabetes epidemic right now — and our consumption of these deadly drinks is a huge contributor!
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease:
• Daily consumption of sugary drinks for a period of six months increased fat deposits in the liver by 150 percent, which directly contributes to both diabetes and heart disease.
• Consumption of sugary drinks — especially more acidic carbonated drinks — promotes dental caries and erosion.
• In fact, for each additional sugary drink consumed per day, children may be at a 22 percent increased risk of developing dental caries.
• Untreated cavities can lead to pain, infection, and tooth loss.
• Consuming two or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day is associated with a 35 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease in women. A related study in men found a similar sugar drink–heart disease link.
I’ve been called a lot of names. Some good, some bad. I’m sure we all have.
Recently I heard I was called “controlling”.
At first, I confess to feeling a rush of anger, who wouldn’t? But then as I sat with the knowledge and the feeling, I realized that, okay I have been called worse and that I truly wasn’t exhibiting controlling behaviour.
What was going on? These people were confused.
What exactly is controlling behaviour?
Controllers try to distance you from your family and friends. By criticism or out-right preventing you from spending time or having contact with your friends and family.
2. Threats — towards you (punishments that will happen to you), or towards them (self-harm, as in “ I’ll kill myself if you leave me”).
3. Making “if, then” statements — such as “IF you do this for me, THEN I’ll do that for you”. Conditions for love and acceptance.
4. Keeping score. Not ever good in a healthy relationship.
5. Jealousy, often unwarranted. Checking up on you, checking your texts and emails.
6. Assuming you are guilty of something — not assumed to be innocent.
7. If they are angry, then it is your fault, you did something to “make” them angry. They don’t assume responsibility for their own feelings.
8. Making fun of your beliefs, or the beliefs of your friends and family.
9. Needing to know where you are at all times, who you are with and what you are doing.
10. They don’t hear your side of the story.
11. Persuade you or coerce you into doing something you would rather not. Such as having sex, taking drugs, going somewhere you don’t want to go or doing things you don’t want to do.
12. They instill doubt in yourself. They try to make you question yourself. They want you to be insecure so that you won’t leave them — that’s the truth they don’t admit to themselves or anyone.
13. Using tears, guilt or anger to get you doing what they want.
What did I do to be called controlling?
Well, I stated something I wanted, in clear terms. Yes, actually out-loud.
The situation: I was co-hosting a family games night (the other host whose house it was at also agreed and wanted this) and stated ‘ no alcohol’. This was due to the fact that some of my family are underage and clearly alcohol wasn’t needed to play a few games and visit.
Was this controlling?
Look at the facts of what controlling actually is again.
No — What I did was be assertive and decisive and clear. And possibly outspoken. Thanks. I want to be those things.
I have opinions, and I have a right to my opinion.
This article recently published in HuffPost states:
There is no shortage of advice and how-to’s on how to lose weight. Many of these ideas and diets do work, especially in the short-term. However, once you stop the diet then the weight comes right back!
There are some simple strategies that you can implement in your lifestyle that will make it easier to lose the excess pounds and maintain a healthy body weight.
One — Keep it simple. Complicated diet plans, customized to your specific genes and insulin levels and more are not necessary. Often just a simple, healthy diet full of whole foods is enough.
The easier your nutrition plan is to implement and follow, then the more likely you are to maintain it for a lifetime of healthy eating.
Two — Eat more fruits and vegetables. Vegetables and fruits are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and numerous phytonutrients. They are also a source of filling fibre and water.
There are many easy and delicious recipes for whole fruits and vegetables which provide nutrition to heal and sustain our bodies.
Eat lots of colours of fruits and vegetables as often as possible as these colours signify a high level of phytonutrients.
A 2018 study ((http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/diet-precision-1.4543617), which compared weight loss results between two dieting groups, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that it didn’t matter what diet the participants followed. The people who lose weight had the following things in common.
People who consumed the fewest processed foods, sugary drinks, unhealthy fats and ate the most vegetables lost the most weight.
Three — Move your body every day! While losing weight is 90% due to changes in your diet and nutrition, exercise helps to strengthen and tone the body.
Exercise will raise your resting metabolic rate, helping your body burn more calories at rest and has a positive effect on health: lowering depression and anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the risk of certain cancers such as breast and colon cancer.
Walking daily is an easy and pleasant way to keep your body moving. Make it as brisk as you can handle for increasing periods of time. And have fun — walk in nature, with a friend, a pet or with music.
If you don’t use it, you will lose it. Keeping fit physically will be a huge blessing when you get older. Keeping strength and flexibility in your muscles will reduce age-related problems.
Four— Eat slowly and mindfully. Many of us eat while we are watching TV or reading, my personal favourite. The problem with this approach is that we are just not paying attention.
We often stuff ourselves quickly and then feel bloated and sick. It takes about 20 minutes to feel that “full” feeling. Try eating slower and eating less.
Slow down! Put your fork down between bites. Only eat; don’t watch TV or read a book.
Conversation can also be distracting, but eating with friends and family is fun and healthy, just make sure to pay attention to what and how much you are eating. The fork trick will help!
Fifth — Drink more water. Water is vital to our health. We are chronically dehydrated as a society and this has its own health problems but also affects our weight.
People who drink more water tend to lose more weight as more water helps you to burn calories and can lower hunger. Often we are just thirsty when we feel hunger.
Have a big drink of water before you eat!
Six — Cut out or dramatically reduce sugar intake. Sugar makes you fat. Simple as that, it is excess calories with no nutritional value and it is stored as fat in the body and increases inflammation.
Try not to replace the sugar in your diet with artificial sweeteners! They aren’t any better, some are synthesized from harmful chemicals and they have been shown not to help with weight loss.
Also, start training your taste buds to dislike really sweet tastes. Sugar is addictive and getting off sugar can take some time. But once you do it is worth it and you will eventually find that the cravings for sugar are finally gone!
By cutting out sugars for just a three-month period last year, I was able to lose weight and improve my health.
My article on sugar goes into more detail here. This is a habit that would be great to follow for your entire life. I promise once you break the sugar habit that it will get easier!
Seven — Reduce processed foods.
An easy policy is to try to eat food that was food 100 years ago. Michael Pollan’s simple diet advice from his book In Defense of Food: An eater’s manifesto is:
Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.
This is such wonderfully simple advice. Processed food can be full of harmful chemicals or at least mostly devoid of nutrition, providing simply empty calories. Often it is high in sugar and bad fats.
Eight — Eat healthy fat and stop eating bad fats. The problem of obesity and overweight isn’t the fat we eat; fat is critical in our diet.
We need dietary fats for life, health, body functioning and, when eating, taste and satiety (fullness). It is time to start accepting that dietary fat is essential for health.
So many of us though, are eating the wrong kinds of fats. And this is contributing to our poor health. There are good and bad fats and it is important to really know and understand the difference.
Good fats are generally unsaturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. Some examples of food sources of healthy fats are cold-water fish, flax seeds, avocados, olive, nuts, seeds and soybeans.
Coconut oil, although mostly a saturated fat, is considered healthy because it contains MUFA’s (Medium chain fatty acids) which has many health benefits, including possibly aiding in weight loss.
Bad fats are usually the saturated fat and trans-fats. Found in fast food, processed foods and fried foods.
Choosing wisely what type of fat you eat will make a huge difference in your health.
Nine — Only eat until 80% full. “Hara hachi bu” — the Japanese manta — which Okinawans (a Blue Zone community) follow, means to stop eating your meal when you feel about 80% full.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Theodore Roosevelt
Teddy’s got that right! It’s something we all do. We want to see how we stack up in our communities. Are we doing things right? Do we fit in?
We all want to be the best at something or at least competent and “normal”. And how do we find out if we are? Why, we look around and see how others are doing, how they look, how much they have or what and how are they doing it.
In all aspects of your life, comparison can lower any sense of pride and enjoyment. It really does rob you of your happiness and contentment.
Why does the simple act of comparing yourself to others make you feel so bad?
1. Often we compare our worst to someone else’s best — we aren’t comparing the same thing.
2. We often see only what that other person is putting out there — and yet we know all of our dark and scary sides. This is a totally unfair comparison. We are the hardest judge of ourselves because we know all our negative aspects.
3. You will never be at the top. Someone somewhere is better than you.
Because we have access to so much information today, we can see so many talented people achieving truly great things.
Needing to be the best or at the top is pointless. And this knowledge, if we dwell on that, can make us feel like giving up and not trying to be our own best self. Leading to a quiet despair.
4. We are too hard on ourselves. We compare our flaws that we have looked at under a microscope or a magnifying mirror, to someone’s air-brushed, salon primped best. Not a fair comparison.
5. Comparison can take you out of your enjoyment of the moment. For example, I love yoga and am fairly flexible, but I have a bad habit of comparing myself to others in my yoga classes.
This takes me out of the enjoyment of the moment, can possibly also make me feel bad or inferior, or conversely, superior.
None of this helps my yogic journey. Yoga is about oneness with body and breath, not about who is the most stretchy. It is not a competition. As the saying goes, it is a yoga practice, not a yoga perfect. My look around to see where others are at deprives me of personal satisfaction and inner peace.
Time to stop this useless and harmful practice!
How to stop comparing yourself to others:
1. Practice gratitude daily. This habit, more than any other, will shift the focus from what you don’t have or can’t do to what you do have and can do. So dig out that gratitude journal!
2. Remind yourself that the people you are comparing yourself to have areas of their life that aren’t perfect.
For example, if you compare your looks to a certain celebrity, but forget the fact that they have been divorced three times and have an addiction problem, you miss the fact that your happy relationships and clean living are far more important than that perfect nose (which they probably paid for!).
Again, you are comparing their best to your worst. Unfair to anyone.
3. Focus on your own future. Clean up your life. If you are truly unhappy with an area of your life, start changing it. Start small and be consistent. You will find satisfaction in this.
4. Only compare yourself to your own self. Realizing that no-one is perfect and that some things in life DON’T improve with age, (hello fine lines — but maybe that is an improvement), work on competing with yourself only.
Can you do a plank for 10 more seconds than you did 2 weeks ago? Awesome, that’s improvement! And you should be proud.
Comparing yourself to the world record holder of planking,( 8 hours! omg) takes away from your achievement and robs you of the satisfaction of your own progress.
5. Learn more about yourself. Journal, try new things, spend time alone and find out what you really want.
Social media, the ultimate in comparison sapping joy activity, can trick us into thinking our life needs to be a certain way. That we need to be a certain way, act a certain way, talk a certain way and certainly look a certain way. But is that what we REALLY want?
Taking the time to really explore our true wants and desires can help us reduce comparisons to others. We are all different, thus our wants and desires, and yes our lives, should be different.
6. Stop judging others. The more we judge, the more we feel judged by others.
You can bet that someone who feels people are very judgemental is exactly that, judgemental. Judging others makes us feel worse and truly says more about us than the poor people we are passing judgements upon.
We truly don’t know what is going on, really going on with someone. The more we tend to judge, the more we will be comparing ourselves to others and lessening our joy.
Working on stopping our comparing mind and opening up our hearts and mind to more gratitude will increase our capacity for joy and contentment.
Time to appreciate what we have!
“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. — Bernard M. Baruch
I love this quote. Isn’t it awesome?
We spend too much time worrying about what other people think. As I get older I am learning more and more that being yourself is the way to go. Most people are too busy thinking about themselves anyway to be worrying about you.
Why is being authentic so important? If we aren’t authentic to what we truly think, feel and want then we are just wearing a mask, hiding and pretending. This will lead to us feeling unworthy and unloved. And don’t we all want to feel worthy and loved?
Fear of what other’s will think of us is also holding us back. We can’t really shine as individuals and we are prevented from fully, or even at all, expressing ourselves and making a difference in the lives of others.
This quote from the lovely and wise Marianne Williamson says it all.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
If you really read that quote and reread it every day, it starts to dawn on you that we have a responsibility to the world to shine and be our glorious selves. And we are all glorious!
Shining our light is the having the courage to be yourself and letting your gifts and talents out into the world.
By having the courage to step up and be ourselves, we can help others do the same. And if people judge us, that’s on them. Judging saying more about the judges than the judged.
Authenticity is the only way you can be happy. Being yourself is the only way to feel love.
You cannot feel love by pretending to be something, or someone, you are not.
Because even if someone loves us then, we will always think, “they wouldn’t really love me if they really knew me.” Hiding the real you will prevent your inner self from feeling valued, seen and understood. Basic human needs.
How am I learning to be more authentic?
I am speaking my mind more. I have opinions and they are of value. You don’t have to agree with me, nor I with you. I am speaking out more and also listening more. Listening is key.
By paying attention to what matters to me. Being mindful and living in the moment helps teach me what makes me feel good, happy and on purpose. Then I can do actions that help take me closer to these things.
I apologize when I screw up. And boy do I do that often! Being willing to say, “Hey, I’m sorry. That’s was wrong.” enables me to show my mistakes to the world, forgive myself and helps others forgive me.
I read books like “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown to help expand my understanding of vulnerability and to see the link between my being open and vulnerable to my ability to feel loved.
Practicing self-acceptance. Loving myself makes it easier to open up to others. Paying attention to that negative voice that sometimes pops up in my head and stopping it as soon as I notice really helps me to change that broken tape.
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” e.e. Cummings
Embracing the courage to be myself is a lifelong practice, but so worth it! Living an authentic life will give you the fulfillment we are all looking for.
“Authenticity means erasing the gap between what you firmly believe inside and what you reveal to the outside world.” Adam Grant
I write articles on healthy living, finding fulfillment and happiness, medications and medical topics, yoga and living an adventurous life. Living your best life!
Blue zones are areas of the world where longevity is much higher than the average. The blue zones that have been identified are in: Sardinia; Ikaria in Greece; the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica; Japan’s Okinawa division; and the Seventh Day Adventist community in Loma Linda California.
What these places have in common is an unusually high number of people who live to be over 100. Not just alive — but thriving, healthy and happy!
Why would you want to live to be over 100 if you are living in pain and suffering?
There are some Powerful and Fundamental Ideas we can learn and incorporate into our own lives to help us to live longer — and not just longer, but healthier, happier and more fulfilling.
First: They manage stress wisely!
All of these diverse groups have ways to decrease stress in their lives. Some of them pray, some meditate, some have daily naps, others have a daily happy hour! Stress less, play and recover more!
Take away — Find someway that you can help your stress — naps, meditation, yoga, deep breathing, journaling, talking with friends daily…
Second: They move more naturally!
People in blue zones move in a way that is natural to their life. They walk everywhere, they don’t use modern conveniences that take away movement. They move around all day.
Take away — Walk more! Walk to the store, bike, hike and try to move more throughout the day. You don’t need to work out so hard and intensely if you just naturally move more!
Third: They eat lots of plants!
Most of their diet is plant-based, especially beans, lentils, etc. There is lots of diversity in the diets, but very little meat is eaten. Most of these blue zone people eat meat not at all or less than 5 times a month.
Take away — Eat more plants! Try incorporating more meatless days into your diet. And eat a large variety of plant-based foods.
Fourth: They spend lots of time with family and friends!
People in these zones tend to live in close contact, daily, with family — lots of extended family, grandparents, grandchildren, etc — and friends. They live close together and work daily together.
Take away — This can be harder in our distant culture and is a major reason loneliness is rampant in our society. We can try to stay in contact with phone calls, Skype, Facetime, etc. Also, do as much visiting as you can. Really nurture your relationships. Take the time.
Fifth: They follow the 80% Rule!
“Har hachi bu” — the Japanese manta — which Okinawans follow, means to stop eating your meal when you feel about 80% full. Blue zone people don’t eat until they are full, they stop before that and eat smaller meals in the evening.
Take away — Try implementing the 80% rule in your life. We often stuff ourselves quickly and then feel bloated and sick. It takes about 20 minutes to feel that “full” feeling. We can try eating slower and eating less. Maybe try having your biggest meal be lunch, instead of a late dinner.
Sixth: They have a life purpose!
Many people in the blue zones know why they wake up in the morning. They feel a deep meaning for their lives.
Take away — Find a purpose that will help you get out of bed in the morning. Studies show this greatly increases fulfillment in life and does increase longevity.
Finding your purpose takes introspection and soul-searching, but it doesn’t have to be saving the world; it can be a simple and as profound as showing love every day to your family. Helping your friends or maybe your start helping the human rights movement— starting in your own community. Something that moves you.
Seventh: They drink wine daily!
Yum! Moderate consumption of wine daily helps with their health. And they don’t drink alone, they have a glass with their family and friends. Laughing and sharing.
Take away — Red wine has resveratrol which has been shown to help health in various ways. Have a small glass daily, preferably enjoying it with family and friends!
But don’t overindulge, that is unhealthy and can lead to addiction, depression, liver disease and other negative health consequences. Limit yourself to one glass daily.
Eighth: They belong to some type of faith community!
Most of these long-lived peoples were part of some type of faith-based community.
Take away — If you belong to a particular faith, then take pleasure in knowing that this will help your longevity.
If you aren’t a member, non-religious, atheistic, or agnostic or whatever your beliefs, you can try finding some type of spiritual feelings in your life that bring you comfort.
For some people it can be the peace and tranquillity found in nature, simply nurturing others and striving to be thoughtful and helping the world to be a better place. Feeling love for the moment you are in. This gives comfort and can help build inner peace.
Ninth: They belong to the right “tribe”!
These blue zone people who live to a healthy ripe old age, have social circles that encourage each other to live healthily. They all support each other’s healthy behaviours.
Take away — We have all heard that the five people you hang around the most are who you become like. Behaviours that harm you, such as smoking, overdrinking, eating junk food and being depressed and angry, are contagious.
However, if the people you hang out with the most are healthy, eat well, are happy and optimistic, chances are much higher that you will too. Your inner circle can help you to stay accountable to healthy behaviours.
So — big take away — take a long look at your close associates and make changes if you have to. Yes, that is hard to do. But this is a huge step to living a long and healthy life.
Choose your friends wisely. Make sure they are influencing you positively.
Tenth: Stop smoking
Most people who live to be over 100 and stay healthy, strong and happy doing it, avoid smoking. Smoking is a huge predictor of early death. Of course, there are those outliers that defy the odds and still live long, but they are the exception.
Take away — Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke. Stop smoking if you do. It’s hard yes, and you’ll probably fail more than once. Just try again. And again. It’s worth it.
All of these points and takeaways are no guarantee that you will live longer than your grandparents did, or remain healthy until very old age. But they will help.
AND, they can really help you to enjoy the journey. The blue zones have much to teach us!
I write articles on healthy living, finding fulfillment and happiness, medications and medical topics, yoga and living an adventurous life. Living your best life!