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How To Live To Be 100+ (And Why You Should Invest in Adventure)

By April 8, 2015January 18th, 20244 Comments

“The calculus of aging offers us two options: We can live a shorter life with more years of disability, or we can live the longest possible life with the fewest bad years. As my centenarian friends showed me, the choice is largely up to us.”

Dan Buettner

Somewhere along the way, you’ve likely heard of something called the Blue Zones — a term coined 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 were people not only live inordinately long, but also seem resoundingly happier than their fellow western world equals.

Places where people forgot to die.

This is the work of my friend  Dan Buettner.

A renaissance man in the truest sense, Dan transcends categorization. Global adventurer. Three-time Guinness Book world record holding endurance cyclist. National Geographic Fellow. Multiple New York Times bestselling author. A wellness and longevity superhero, Dan has keynoted speeches for Bill Clinton’s Health Matters Initiative, Google Zeitgeist, and TEDMED.  He’s appeared on Oprah twice and his TED Talk “How to live to be 100+” has been viewed over 2 million times.

Without mincing words, Dan is my hero. A man who exudes life. A man with huge vision. And a man whose life work has positively, permanently and quite unequivocally improved the well being of millions.

You might have caught Dan on  The TODAY Show (which is featuring segments on Dan and his work throughout the week),  read about him in last Sunday’s PARADE magazine,  seen him on NBC News  or caught him on  CNN’s The Wonder List a few weeks ago. The common theme of these stories? Grappling with the lifestyle tenets that govern Blue Zone cultures as a means to help the rest of us live longer and better.

According to Dan, Blue Zone cultures extending wellness into Ponce De Leon territory all live in accordance with 9 identifiable, convergent lifestyle principles (listed in the show notes below). Principles that are replicable on both the individual and civic level, as demonstrated by Dan’s Blue Zones Project— a community well-being improvement initiative that has wholly transformed 20 cities and municipalities to date by implementing permanent changes to environment, policy, and social networks that make healthy choices easier.

The Blue Zones Solution*,  Dan’s new book out this week, is a highly detailed primer that extrapolates from these principles powerful eating and lifestyle tools to transform your health. Buttressed with highly entertaining stories from Dan’s travels, I highly recommend checking it out – I was lucky enough to get an advance copy, and it’s a terrific read.

This is a phenomenal conversation that explores Dan’s new book, the aforementioned principles and what this means for you – how we can all implement certain lifestyle tenets to live longer and, most importantly, get the absolute most out of our years.

Beyond the Blue Zone universe, I tackle the story of the man behind the vision. A story that begins with Dan’s improbable encounter with the singular  George Plimpton (lion of The Paris Review and another personal hero of mine) — a visionary man who catalyzed Dan’s purposeful life with one simple, yet powerful idea:

Above all, invest in adventure.

I sincerely hope you enjoy the exchange.

Peace + Plants,


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Production, music & sound design by Tyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson. Thanks boys!

*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.


Connect With Dan: Blue Zones Website | Facebook | Twitter

Books by Dan:

The 5 Blue Zones:

  • The Italian island of Sardinia.
  • Okinawa, Japan.
  • Loma Linda, California.
  • Costa Rica’s isolated Nicoya Peninsula.
  • Ikaria, an isolated Greek island off the coast of Turkey.

Dan’s 9 principles of a Blue Zone:

  • Move naturally: Get more physically active by walking in the community, do manual labor around the house and yard, and grow gardens.
  • Know your purpose: People who know why they get up in the morning live up to seven years longer than those who don’t.
  • Down shift: To reverse inflammation related to every major age-related disease, find time each day to meditate, nap, pray or commune with friends.
  • 80 percent rule: It takes the stomach 20 minutes to tell the brain it is full, causing most people to accidentally overeat. Stop eating when 80 percent full.
  • Plant slant: Eat a mostly plant-based diet heavy on beans, nuts and green plants. This is consistent with U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations.
  • Wine at 5: For those who have a healthy relationship with alcohol (not me), enjoy a daily glass of wine.
  • Family first: Living in a thriving family is worth six extra years of life expectancy.
  • Belong: Recommit, reconnect or explore a faith-based community. No matter which faith, studies show that people who show up to their faith community four times a month live an extra four to 14 years.
  • Right tribe: Friends have a long-term impact on well-being. Expand a social circle to include healthy-minded, supportive people. This could be the most powerful way to add years to a life.

More cool stuff by and about Dan:

For the full reports on the Danish Twin Study and the North Karelia Project in Finland:

*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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  • Tommy F says:

    What an adventurous Journey Dan has lived! Great Conversation!!
    Mindful and responsible leadership taking the detrimental health choices out of the daily decision making of it’s public, to improve the quality of life. I like it! And, it’s a noble purpose, but there are so many conflicting agendas, vested interests and opinions in our diverse culture. The onus really ultimately lies on the individual, and their respective journey. Difficult to define what’s best for The People.. as we spent decades being duped into somehow believing that everything coming from a cow made us stronger. Big corporations are always going to fight for grabbing the reins of that control. And they’ll continue to taint the research, which we rely on the scientific method to provide us with what is the truth. All that said.. I still think it’s the right path. Just need to remain mindful of the agendas which may eventually usurp and circumvent this noble purpose.

  • Darren Thomson says:

    Rich, love the podcasts. I listened to this one and the recent one with Gene Baur with interest as the state of Iowa, where I live, was a topic in both. As someone who has had some heart issues, I’ve been gradually changing the way I exercise and eat. I can tell you that while it most certainly isn’t a majority, there are a lot of people here that are friendly to your, and most of your guests, viewpoints and lifestyle. With the farm industry ingrained in the lifestyle of the state for so long, it’s hard to get through that history. But as things are starting to move away from the old ways, more and more are starting to see the reality of the situation, that the current way of life isn’t sustainable.

    As someone that has more libertarian leanings than conservative, I can tell you we aren’t all like Steve King. 😉

  • Thank you for the podcast. Rich. Slowly and deeply getting to plant-powered nutrition. I am radical person, but in this case I have decided to go step by step. For now meat is gone, but fish, eggs and a little bit of dairy remains. But what an increasement in vegetables – I am buying vegies which I haven’t seen before :)) swede, parsnips, kale… Getting more interesting and interesting…

    About this podcast. Biggest takeaways for me is:

    1. Ikigai – the big question “what is the reason I wake up in the morning”

    2. Community – I need and I really want to get closer people with my health values. But until I am in a big search – I will work with my habits/nutrition/body

    Thanks again, for great talk!

  • Lance Mateas says:

    Great interview. I really enjoyed the book and his presentation at the McDougall Advanced Study Weekend in March. One thing that I think I read in the book, but haven’t heard Buettner discuss is that these areas are not too isolated. They are separate enough to keep their healthy culture relatively pure, but close enough to the modern world to have basic health care. I believe their longevity didn’t pick up until basic health care was established. All but one have public health care (Loma Linda) and all but one are in modernized countries (Costa Rica.) Costa Rica does have good social services.

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