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Dan Buettner: Lessons From the World’s Happiest People

By October 22, 2017January 24th, 2024No Comments

“Follow your bliss, not your material desires.”

Dan Buettner 

We all want to be happy.

But what exactly is happiness? Can it be cultivated? And if so, how?

Somewhere along the way, you’ve likely heard of something called the Blue Zones — a term coined by this week’s guest in reference to five hidden slivers of the world that boast the highest per capita populations of centenarians – people who thrive to 100 and beyond. Unlikely locales where people not live inordinately long,

Places where people forgot to die.

Interestingly, in addition to outliving their fellow western world equals, the Blue Zoners also seemed resoundingly happier.

Dan Buettner wanted to know more. So he shifted focus from longevity and zeroed in on the elusive, ever-so-slippery nature of happiness itself.

Deploying his expertise and that of others, he used hard science to better define the emotional state we seek most. He scoured the planet in search of the cultures that most exemplify happiness. He examined the internal and external factors that most promote happiness. And he extrapolated the key lessons that can be best applied for us to all ultimately live better and more fulfilled.

The result of Dan’s quest is the subject of today’s conversation. It’s also the the cover story of this month’s issue of National Geographic, the topic he explored all last week on the TODAY Show and the focus of his new Amazon #1 bestselling  book, The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons from the World’s Happiest People*.

(full podcast on YouTube!)

A true renaissance man, Dan is a National Geographic Fellow, a world adventurer with 3 endurance cycling world records to his name, a longevity expert, and a NY Times Bestselling author who has appeared on Oprah twice, as well as CNN, David Letterman, Good Morning America, Primetime Live, and the Today Show. He has delivered more than 500 keynotes over the last 10 years, including speeches for Bill Clinton’s Health Matters Initiative, Google Zeitgeist, and TEDMED. His TED Talk “How to live to be 100+” has been viewed over 3 million times.

Long-time listeners will remember well our initial conversation. RRP 139 (April 2015) explored Dan’s fascinating, adventurous backstory and what he learned studying centenarians. This conversation picks up where that one left off to delve deep into the very nature of happiness. It’s about the three pillars that compose it. And the extent to which your environment and lifestyle choices impact your ability to exude and maintain it.

It’s a conversation about what you can do to design your surroundings to stack the deck in favor of happiness. And it’s an exchange about the impact of Dan’s work on fundamentally improving health and happiness in cities and municipalities across the United States.

But ultimately, this is a powerful primer on how to cultivate greater awareness around the choices we all make daily around food, lifestyle habits, and the quality of our physical and interpersonal environments. And it’s about how improving these choices can lead to the one thing we all seek – true, lasting happiness.

I absolutely love this guy. A kindred spirit, he is truly is one of my favorite people. A man of grace and great integrity who is truly changing the world. A great mentor and role model — and an even better friend — I aspire to his level of service.

And this conversation is simply great.

For those visually inclined, the video version of the podcast is also viewable on YouTube.

I sincerely hope you enjoy the exchange.

Peace + Plants,


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Images & Video by David Zammit: Website | Instagram

Let’s get clean water to those in need

Right now 663 million people currently live without clean water. I want to change that. So I partnered with charity: water to create a birthday fundraising campaign, 100% of which will be used to build clean water projects for those in need. As of October 22, 2017, we have raised over $42,000. THANK YOU! But we’re still a bit shy of my $51,000 goal. Even though I turned 51 a few days ago, it’s not too late to contribute. To learn more and donate, visit:

Thanks to this week’s sponsors

Note: One of the best ways to support the podcast is to support the sponsors. For a complete list of all RRP sponsors and their respective vanity url’s and discount codes, visit my Resources page and click “Sponsors”.

Show Notes

Check out Dan’s latest book: The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons From the World’s Happiest People*

Take the 3-minute True Vitality Test to find out your life expectancy and to get customized recommendations on how to live longer

Background, Context & Reference

Notable Books by Dan Buettner

Notable People Discussed

Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy

SPECIAL THANKS to MOBY for this episode’s interstitial music: “Look Back In” via Thanks to Jason Camiolo for production, audio engineering and show notes; Shawn Patterson for graphics; and David Zammit for photography & videography. Theme music by Ana Leimma.

*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.


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