Monday, November 03, 2014

Nine Best Practices for Leading a Longer, Happier Life

Immortality may be a stretch goal, but is it possible to live longer lives with more quality to our years?  A collaboration among Dan Buettner, National Geographic, and a research team resulted in the identification of a group of "Blue Zones" around the world, in which people lived to the age of 100 ten times more often than occurs in the U.S.  They examined what differentiated the people who lived in the Blue Zones from those in countries with less longevity and found nine important factors:

1)  Physical activity;
2)  A strong sense of purpose;
3)  Daily downshifting and relaxing;
4)  Eating in moderation, with least intake late in the day;
5)  Less eating of meat and more consumption of fruits and vegetables;
6)  Moderate consumption of alcohol;
7)  Participation in a faith-based community;
8)  Strong family ties;
9)  Strong social support system.

What I find fascinating is that many of these factors boil down to physical, emotional, and social well-being.  I recently posted on the topic of a training program for happiness.  If you combine such a program with healthy eating and physical fitness, you have most of the ingredients of a longevity program. 

Especially interesting are factors two and seven above:  possessing a strong sense of purpose and participation in a faith-based community.  What this suggests is that values matter when they are lived:  we are most likely to live healthy lives when we are acting upon our deepest values and beliefs.  A meaningful life tends to be a healthier, longer life.

I was interested to see that Buettner has teamed up with researcher Ed Diener to create an online test of happiness based upon the Blue Zone findings.  I took the test and scored A-.  The feedback report gave suggestions of improvements I could make to bring my score higher.  Most pertained to improving the nature and quality of my social life--suggestions that make good sense to me.

A key takeaway is that the emotional quality of our lives meaningfully contributes to our health and longevity. We also know that positive emotional experience is crucial to our work performance.  Our self-management is intimately linked with our capital management and life management; trading is most likely to be successful if it is conducted in a way that adds to the quality of our life experience.

Further Reading:  Well-Being and Lapses in Trading Discipline