Bringing the World’s Longevity and Happiness Secrets to American Cities

Rich Roll is a vegan ultra-endurance athlete, plant-based nutrition advocate, and host of the award-winning, chart-topping Rich Roll Podcast, where he interviews forward-thinking, paradigm-busting minds in the health, fitness, and nutrition world. He talked with Dan Buettner about The Blue Zones of Happiness and how we can all design our surroundings to stack the deck in favor of happiness. Watch the interview below.

In our blue zones research, we found that the healthiest, longest-lived people in the world were nudged into healthy behaviors by their environments. So when we were asked to try and implement some of these blue zones principles (called the Power 9) in American cities, we used evidence-based policies to change the actual environment in which people live.

Making permanent and semi-permanent changes to the environment is at the core of our Blue Zones Project communities.

Our minds are hardwired for novelty, so we crave new things. Our attention can only last so long. Take diets for example. After seven months, 90 percent of people have discarded their diets. Discipline is a muscle and muscles fatigue, so people revert back to their old behaviors.

If you want people to eat better, move better, socialize better, and live better, then you have to optimize their environments. That’s what we do in our Blue Zones Project communities with incredible success.

It’s the same with happiness.

Things like savoring each moment, gratitude, and meditation can work in the short term to make you happier. However, just like changing your diet, these techniques require you to remember and implement them on a regular basis. They are not strategies that ensure long-term happiness.

6 Factors For Happiness, According to the Newest Research

There are six factors that correlate to personal happiness no matter where you live. 

  1. Trust. Can I trust my neighbor?
  2. Tolerance. Can I live out my values?
  3. Community. Do I have strong social connections?
  4. Healthy life expectancy. Take our True Vitality Test to measure your life expectancy.
  5. GDP. Money does matter…up to a certain point.
  6. Freedom. Do I have the freedom to do the work that is right for me?

While it isn’t likely that you can pick up and move to one of the happiest places in the world where these factors are present, you can still optimize your own life, social circle, and everyday routine to find purpose, pleasure, and pride.

Download the Rich Roll Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts and learn more in The Blue Zones of Happiness.

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