We all want to live a long and healthy life, but how do we achieve that? One way is to learn from the people who have already done it: the centenarians. These are the individuals who have reached or surpassed the age of 100, and they are not as rare as you might think.
In fact, there are five regions in the world where people live exceptionally long and well: Ikaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; and Nicoya, Costa Rica. These places are known as the Blue Zones, and they have been studied by author and explorer Dan Buettner, who has revealed some of their secrets to longevity.
One of the key factors that contribute to the health and happiness of the centenarians is their morning routine. According to Buettner, there are four simple and beautiful habits that they follow every day, and you can adopt them too. Here they are:
Find your ‘ikigai’
Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means “reason for being” or “purpose in life”. It is what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and gives you a sense of direction and fulfillment. Finding your ikigai can help you live longer and better, as it reduces stress, boosts your mood, and enhances your creativity. The people of Okinawa, Japan, are known for having a strong sense of ikigai, which they often express through their work, hobbies, family, or community.
To find your ikigai, you can ask yourself these four questions:
- What do you love?
- What are you good at?
- What does the world need from you?
- What can you get paid for?
The answers may not come easily, but they will help you discover your passion and mission in life. Once you find your ikigai, hold on to it and remind yourself of it every morning.
Don’t skip a healthy breakfast
You have probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and the centenarians agree. They start their day with a nutritious and satisfying breakfast that provides them with energy and nourishment for the rest of the day. They also avoid processed foods, added sugars, and animal products, and instead opt for whole plant-based foods that are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.
One example of a healthy breakfast that a centenarian would eat is oatmeal. A 105-year-old woman from Loma Linda, California, swears by her bowl of slow-cooked oats topped with walnuts, dates, and soy milk. She also drinks a prune juice shooter to help her digestion and lower her blood pressure and cholesterol. Oatmeal is a great choice because it is high in complex carbohydrates, protein, and beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that has many health benefits.
Other examples of healthy breakfasts that you can try are:
- A fruit salad with nuts and seeds
- A whole wheat toast with almond butter and banana
- A smoothie with spinach, berries, flax seeds, and almond milk
- A tofu scramble with mushrooms, tomatoes, and herbs
Enjoy a cup of morning coffee
If you love coffee, you will be happy to know that it can help you live longer. The centenarians from all five Blue Zones drink coffee regularly, usually black or with a splash of plant-based milk or natural sweetener. Coffee contains caffeine, which can boost your alertness, mood, and metabolism. It also contains polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that can protect your cells from damage and inflammation.
However, moderation is key when it comes to coffee consumption. Too much caffeine can cause anxiety, insomnia, and heart palpitations. The optimal amount of coffee for health benefits is about two to three cups per day. You should also avoid adding creamers, syrups, or artificial sweeteners to your coffee, as they can add unnecessary calories and chemicals.
If you prefer tea over coffee, you can also enjoy its health benefits. Tea is another common beverage in the Blue Zones, especially green tea in Okinawa and herbal tea in Ikaria. Tea contains caffeine as well as catechins, which are another type of antioxidant that can lower your risk of chronic diseases.
Say something nice to the first person you see
The last habit that the centenarians follow in the morning is to say something nice to the first person they see. This could be their spouse, their child, their neighbor, or even their pet. Saying something nice can brighten up someone’s day as well as your own. It can also strengthen your social bonds and make you feel more connected and supported.
Social interaction is one of the most important factors for longevity. The centenarians from the Blue Zones have strong and meaningful relationships with their family, friends, and community. They spend time with people who share their values, interests, and goals. They also help each other, celebrate together, and support each other in times of need.
You can improve your social life by saying something nice to the first person you see every morning. You can also:
- Call or text a friend or a relative
- Join a club or a group that interests you
- Volunteer for a cause that you care about
- Smile and greet strangers on the street
These four morning habits can help you start your day like a centenarian and live a longer and happier life. They are simple, easy, and enjoyable to follow. Try them out and see how they make you feel.