You don’t have to look far to find self-improvement tips, but I wanted an international perspective, so I dug back into The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner, who captures certain secrets of longevity from natives of Sardinia, Okinawa and Costa Rica. Despite being separated by thousands of miles, these distinct and ancient cultures are based on very similar, simple principles that can be distilled into resolutions:

  • Wake up with a plan–in Okinawa it’s an ikigai, in Costa Rica a plan de vida. Start each day with a clearly articulated purpose.
  • Include the grandparents—put three generations of family at the center of life to broaden perspective and pass down traditions and meaning.
  • Exercise outside—the combination of sunshine and activity that raises cardiovascular function is an unbeatable way to lift your spirits.
  • Make meat a special occasion—whether it’s lamb in Sardinia, pork in Okinawa or chicken in Costa Rica, it’s traditional to eat meat once or twice a week and for celebrations.

Of course, there is also plenty of local color when it comes to longevity tips. If these cultures ring in the New Year with a favorite tonic, here are the beverages of choice:

  • Sardinia—red wine (Cannonau) or goat’s milk
  • Okinawa—miso soup
  • Costa Rica—hard water (full of minerals)

As you raise your glass, you may want to borrow from the Italians and say “Cent ‘anni!”–shorthand for “May you live 100 years!”

Photo by davidgordillo.

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About The Author

Michael Hartung, editor of Healthy Travel Blog, serves as head of Product Development at HTH Worldwide. Mike is responsible for all product strategy and development for the company. Mike has over twenty years of successful product innovation to his credit. He has played a senior management role in three start-up companies and has built complex organizations in rapid growth environments. Prior to joining HTH in 2000, he served as President of U.S. Healthcare’s Workers Comp Advantage subsidiary, which he co-founded with Angelo Masciantonio. Mike has also served in senior roles at Aon Consulting, Vantage Health Partners and Managed Health Care Services. Mike earned an M.B.A. from New York University, an M.A. from Duke University and a B.A. from Carleton College.

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