Go Primitive to Stay Healthy and Live Longer
By Dr. Stuart Offer, Wellness Coach and Educator, Hickok & Boardman HR Intelligence.
One day I came down to my family room to find my little dog Spike sun bathing on the floor in front of a large window. My first thought was “how great that looks, we see so little sun here in the winter”. I looked at Spike and he looked back at me with the calmest and most soothing expression, he was clearly in his pleasure zone. Well, for once in a long while I had nowhere to go and nothing pressing to do so, you guessed it, I laid down right next to Spike so I could feel a little of what he was so obviously enjoying. He immediately wiggled up against me and the two of us were in our little piece of heaven. I laid there with no thoughts other than how great this is, sun on my face and body and truly present in the moment, no mental clutter or chatter. How simple and satisfying this was.
This experience reminded me of the experiences described by National Geographic author Dan Buettner in his book Blue Zones. If you are not familiar with Blue Zones, they are small geographic areas where people are the healthiest and live the longest lives on the planet. In Blue Zones there are more centenarians than anywhere else in the world. But what really stood out for me is the quality in the lives of these elders. It is common to see people in their 80’s, 90’s and even 100’s riding bicycles, cooking for their extended families, tending to their gardens, pretty much acting as if they were 30 to 40 years younger than they actually are.
What makes these Blue Zones so unique? One might think a genetic anomaly is at work here. No, this uniqueness is largely a result of their lifestyles. If I can encapsulate this lifestyle with one word I would describe it with the word Simplicity. However, this is simplicity with only the most admirable of connotations associated with it. The lives of these people are filled with meaningful work, but with low stress, with physical activity that is purposeful and fun, with eating whole fresh unprocessed foods, with connectivity to faith, community and loved ones.
As a Wellness Educator and a Lifestyle Counselor at Hickok & Boardman HR Intelligence I was struck by the similarities of what I am teaching and the fundamental principles that are helping the people in the Blue Zones live longer, healthier and happier lives. Unfortunately, I often see in the typical American lifestyle what appears to be the complete polar opposite of what we are seeing in these Blue Zones. For example, we have so many things vying for our attention, such as nonstop work, cell phones, emails, TV etc. It is no wonder that many of us are feeling an uncomfortably high level of stress and can’t shut our minds down for even a few minutes a day. Our bodies and minds have not evolved to keep up with