In 2005, the National Geographic ran a story titled, The Secrets of Living Longer by Dan Buettner. The article highlighted 3 locations that contained a large number of centenarians (people aged 100+) per population. These locations would later be termed, “Blue Zones” and Dan would go on to write a book about them.
While I’m currently reading that book, I had the joy to read one of Dan’s other books a couple of weeks ago. Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way is Dan’s book about a 5 year journey to find what makes the happiest people in the world just that, happy.
Through his journey, Dan found many common characteristics among the happiest populations. He shared those tips and actionable pieces of advice for readers to incorporate more happy habits into their own lives. I want to share with you the Thrive tips that resonated the most with me.
Lessons in Thriving
For many of us, changing where we live is a scary idea. But it can mean the difference between thriving and not. One of my favorite tips when choosing a happy community is to look for a community that encourages walkability. A community that makes the active option the easy option, will help to increase the activity levels of its citizens. Check out WalkScore to find the most walkable cities.
Again, changing our job may seem intimidating, but it can be a great way to increase the happiness you experience daily. The book had many great ideas about working happier, but my favorite was to avoid long commutes. People routinely rate “commuting to work” as one of their least favorite tasks.
3. Social Life
In this day and age, being social in a meaningful and happy way has become much more difficult. With the rise in social media many of us spend “social” hours in front of a screen. Long work hours and inactive hobbies (watching TV, playing video games) both contribute to a less social life.
But making small changes to be more interactive in a face-to-face way can truly increase your happiness. My favorite tip from the book to have a happier social life was to join a club. If you can’t find a club for your interests or talents, consider starting one! Check out MeetUp for local groups.
4. Financial Life
Finances can be a big source of unhappiness in our lives if we fall into common money traps within our societies (having several credit cards with a large debt balance, having several large loans, etc.). Taking the initiative to find financial freedom can be very gratifying and increase the happiness you experience daily.
There were 2 financial tips from the book that I really appreciated:
- Avoid credit cards and
- Invest in experiences.
We can each set up our homes to lead happier lives and it really doesn’t take that much extra effort. There were so many good suggestions in the book, but my favorite was to have fewer TV screens. Having fewer TV’s can help nudge us to be more active.
Possibly the easiest area we can make changes is within ourselves. Yes, we can, in a way, train ourselves to be happier. Volunteering was my favorite suggestion for creating a happier self.
Carve out a block of 2+ hours a week to volunteer to an organization that you feel strongly about (your church, humane society, homeless shelter, etc.).