Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I know that the theme of Thursday Thirteen this week is supposed to be vacation places, but I have written several times about vacation spots, so I am reporting instead on an article I read recently about life habits of centenarians.
The May/June issue of The AARP magazine had a special report on four Blue Zones around the world where many people live to be over 100 years of age. The author of the article coined the term "Blue Zone" in an earlier article he wrote for National Geographic in 2005, "The Secrets of Long Life." The Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica is one newly-researched zone. Here are 13 of the secrets of long life that Dan Buettner discovered in talking to the centenarians who live there.
1. Have a strong sense of purpose.
2. Drink hard water.
3. Keep a focus on family.
4. Eat a light dinner.
5. Maintain social networks.
6. Keep hard at work.
7. Get some sensible sun.
8. Embrace a common history.
In addition to this list of eight life-habits that the author specifically culled from his interviews and listed, I found evidence for several others that seem just as important.
9. Reach out to others. The author interviewed a lady named Panchita; in that interview he mentions that she has a habit of reaching out and touching the arm of the person to whom she is talking. This literal "reaching out" is just an outward sign of the inner tendency to "reach out" emotionally to connect with others.
10. Don't harbor worries and grudges. Panchita tells several stories that illustrate this life habit. She tells of her son's murder but finishes the tale with, "God does everything for a reason. I am a blessed woman today." When she finishes retelling the story of chasing away and beating a peeping tom when she was bathing in the river at age 70, she says, "I did a bad thing, ...but still God blesses me."
11. Eat natural and non-processed foods. Panchita's family grows most of their own foods, and her idea of a treat is a banana. Sugar and salt were hard to come by and seldom used.
12. Socialize and network intergenerationally. Each old person's story mentioned children who regularly visited with the centenarians; each mentioned younger adults who either helped or depended to some degree upon the older adult. The centenarian both contributed to and received contributions from persons of other generations.
13. Take care of your appearance. Panchita greeted the visitors wearing a festive dress, long colorful earrings, and had her hair pulled back and held with a rhinestone-studded comb. Her nails were neatly trimmed and she wore a silver band on her ring finger.