Week 3

Week 3: Right Tribe

Getting in touch with old friends is part of your fun homework this week! And making new connections in a social group is key, so you’ll be looking for a new activity or interest group to connect with.

Week 3 Required Activities

1 No more than 1 hour of additional screen time daily (including Netflix, TV, news)

People who watch too much TV are more likely to be overweight. TV-watching actually lowers metabolism, makes us less active, and encourages us to eat junk food via commercials. Kids with a TV in their bedroom are 18 percent more likely to be (or become) obese and have lower grades. The happiest people watch only 30-60 minutes of TV per day.

2 Eat at least 5 Blue Zones meals / recipes this week

Keep it simple and easy. You can try new recipes or eat the same ones you used last week. As you keep adding more healthy foods and meals to your daily routine, you’ll crowd out the calorie-rich and nutrient poor foods that are the basis of the Western diet. Focus on the four Always foods: whole grains, beans, nuts, and fruits / veggies.

3 Join a new social group (church, school club, local group)

This can be a new group at your temple, church, or other faith-based community, a new club at your school, or a local group like Meetup. Our friends and social groups shape our lives (and our waistlines).

Week 3 Optional Activities

1 Call, text, or email one friend or family member you haven’t connected with recently.

Try to get into this habit everyday. Even if it’s just a simple text or a funny photo, don’t forget to keep in touch.

2 Volunteer to be an organ donor (on your license)

“If you want to do a random act of kindness, there isn’t a more powerful few minutes than signing to be an organ donor. You never have to lift a finger. It is the laziest, most excellent good deed that you can do that will give you a happiness boost.”—Gretchen Rubin

3 Volunteer for a new organization

“Altruism stimulates the same neural pathways as sugar and cocaine.  But unlike drugs, volunteering is a healthy addiction. People who volunteer tend to lose weight, have lower rates of heart disease, and report higher levels of happiness. Decide what you do best and volunteer your time.”—Dan Buettner

4 Host a healthy potluck

In the longevity hotspots around the world, socializing with friends is an important part of life. Okinawans have moais, groups of people who travel through life together. Sardinians finish their days at a local bar, chatting with friends they’ve known all their lives. And Adventists potluck.

5 Plan a vacation or some time off work

Never leave vacation days on the table. Even if you don’t have the money to splurge on an exotic trip, a “staycation” can provide a much-needed respite. No matter how much time off your company provides, you can increase the pleasure you get from vacation days by dividing them among several shorter trips, as opposed to one big one. That’s because the happiness bump we get from a vacation may come from the planning and anticipation, not the trip itself, according to a 2010 study from the Netherlands.

6 Schedule a weekly get together with friends (happy hour, workout session, book club, coffee klatch)

This week you should already be signing up for a new group that meets regularly (see required activity #3), but don’t forget to nourish the friendships you already have. Engage your existing circle and pick a day and time to get together regularly: Happy hour at 5pm so you’re all getting off work on time at least once a week; book club (or even article club) for some interesting discussions; workout session or walk; or coffee meet-up once a week.

7 Put a fruit-filled bowl on your countertop

If you want to re-make your eating habits, clean up your kitchen environment. Try to always keep fresh fruit and nuts on the counter. Start making it a habit to never keep the FOUR TO AVOID foods in your house. If you must (because of family or roommates), keep them out of sight on a high shelf or in the back of the fridge.

8 Write a thank you note to a coworker or friend

Research published in Psychological Science says when people express their gratitude, it improves both their own happiness and the well-being and happiness of the person they are thanking.

9 Take time to rediscover a hobby you once loved

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health noted that the type of activity did not seem to matter when it came to cognitive benefits. Find something that you enjoy doing and let it enhance your life and boost your brainpower.

10 Schedule a ten-minute walk with friends or co-workers after lunch

You should be working up to 10,000 steps a day, a simple, budget-friendly way to move naturally throughout the day. A walk with friends will enhance your life in other ways.

11 Put a lavender plant next to your bed

Research performed by Dr. Brian Raudenbush, the Department Chair of psychology at Wheeling Jesuit University, shows the smell of lavender is particularly effective at reducing human stress hormones.