100 Years and Counting

Arial shot of people on a beach with towels. There are upside down wooden boats in the bottom right hand side as well as some scattered palm trees. The image has a blue-colored effect over top of it.

Blue Zones

We’re still trying to find the exact coordinates of the ever-elusive fountain of youth, but our current best guess is somewhere on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica. You might be aware that there are a few places on Earth where people tend to live happier, longer and healthier lives—the fancy term is Blue Zone. The irony is that when people say they are feeling blue, it usually means they are feeling down, sad or gloomy. But make your way to Costa Rica, and you’ll soon realize everyone feels the opposite, and for a number of reasons.

Illustrated outlined map of Costa Rica. There is a red colored-in area over the location of the Nicoya Peninsula with a handwritten label pointing towards it.

Costa Rica is considered one of the world’s five Blue Zones, thanks to its “pura vida” philosophy—the simple life—along with a major emphasis on access to public health care and education. Costa Rica has implemented a public health care system that keeps the population healthy by prioritizing large-scale preventative practices instead of waiting to respond to individuals seeking medical attention. More of a look-at-the-bigger-picture type approach, and damn if it works. Costa Rica has debunked the stigmatized relationship between health and wealth, and has in turn made it accessible to those who need it most. The country worked to eliminate malnourishment and promote education at the same time by offering meals to children in school; implemented public health units in every neighborhood; and created a community between the healthcare industry and the people of Costa Rica. And as a result, the life expectancy for folks living here has surpassed a solid handful of places you’d think would have the whole accessible-and efficacious-medical-system thing under control.

In all of the places in the world where people enjoy high levels of health, happiness and quality of life, there are a few characteristics that are constant across the board. These are the Power Nine Principles, identified by Dan Buettner and the good folks over at National Geographic—not just something we concluded after sending Matt out into the world’s Blue Zones with a notepad. We tried. Turns out there were some pretty serious legality issues.

Beach in Costa Rica. This photo shows waves crashing to shore with a bunch of lush plants in the foreground. There is a person standing on the beach that looks like just a spec in the photo. The image has a blue-colored effect over it.
A group of people riding horses on a beach. The waves are crashing to shore on the left and on the right is the Costa Rican jungle. The photo has a blue-colored effect over it.

How to live for a very, very, very, very, very, very long time with the Power Nine principles:

1. Move Naturally

Not saying your gym routine isn’t promoting your health, but those who end up spending the longest time on Earth aren’t necessarily taking pre-workout on a daily basis. Instead, their way of life involves activities that allow them to move naturally (and constantly) without really having to think about it. Things like having to tend to a garden because that’s your source of food, as opposed to forcing yourself to get on that Peloton you saved up for and never use.

2. Purpose

The reason you wake up in the morning. And actually having one. Those down in Costa refer to it as plan de vida. Legend has it that knowing your sense of purpose can tack on seven extra years to the ole lifespan. Pretty good, especially if you’ve ever broken a mirror.

3. Downshift

A moment carved out to de-stress. Something every person on Earth should practice but likely thinks they don’t have time for. Pretty much the whole point. Stress is universal—we all experience it. But what we don’t all do is allow ourselves time to shed that stress, with things like moments of gratitude, prayer, happy hour, siesta. Unplugging but recharging.

4. 80 Percent Rule

Buffets hate this rule. To find yourself outliving others, instead of eating until you need to unbutton your pants, eat until your stomach is 80 percent full. Hence the name. Those who are longest-living usually eat their last meal of the day in the early evening and it is usually the smallest of their daily meals. Not entirely sure how they don’t get the 9 p.m. sweet craving, but we’ll guess practice. Maybe earlier bedtimes.

A Costa Rican man holding a block of wood standing in front of a table with carpentry tools on it. He is wearing a wide brimmed hat and has on a button up shirt that is unbuttoned at the top. The photo has a blue-colored effect over top of it.
A girl standing with her arms reaching towards the sky standing on rocks in front of a waterfall and pool of water. The Costa Rican jungle is behind the waterfall. The image has a blue-colored effect over top of it.

5. Plant Slant

We’re not saying you have to go totally plant-based tomorrow, but including more vegetables and legumes in your diet on a regular basis can contribute to increasing your lifespan. And also limiting the meat intake. To be a centenarian, you gotta eat like a centenarian. This means only eating meat about once a week and keeping the portions at about half of your regular 8 oz filet. Kind of like meatless Mondays but the whole thing is reversed.

6. Wine at 5

Whalebone’s most practiced principle. Having a nice glass or two of your preferred wine each day with friends and food will keep you around longer than others. Research shows moderate drinkers outlive nondrinkers. That’ll be a fun one to share at parties. The key is moderately and regularly. So maybe not all those pickleback shots we took last weekend will get us above the age of 80, but we’re working on it.

7. Belong

George Michael said it best: You gotta have faith. And whom you’re worshiping doesn’t seem to make a difference according to the science, but research shows you can level up your lifetime anywhere from four to 14 years by being active in a faith-based community.

8. Loved Ones First

Family first. Oldest saying in the book. Actually don’t quote us on that part, but keeping your family at the center of your life can increase life expectancy not just for you, but for your grandparents, parents, partner, children and really any loved one you put time and effort into. Plus spending more time with your kids usually makes them more likely to care for you when you get to be 100. Full circle stuff.

9. Right Tribe

You know how laughter is contagious? So are happiness and loneliness, good habits and bad habits, you get the gist. Surrounding yourself with the right people who practice healthy behaviors can in turn help shape your behaviors in the same way, providing you with healthy habits. Where the whole don’t-get-wrapped-up-in-the-wrong-crowd thing stems from.

So how close are you to practicing the Power Nine like a Blue Zone boss?

Close up photo if an older women's hand holding on to each other in front of her body. She has a simple banded ring on her left middle finger and is wearing a floral top. The image has a blue-colored effect on it.