Life is short. Don’t run so fast you miss it.  — Blue Zone Centenarian

Welcome to La Vie en Bleu a series where I share what Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones, reveals as powerful and simple lessons that can help put anyone on the path to a healthier and happier life. We continue with the sixth of nine lessons from the Blue Zones, five unique communities that have common elements of diet, lifestyle and outlook on life that have led to not only an amazing number of years lived, but also a better quality of life.

Lesson Six: Slow Down
Although their bodies naturally slow down due to age, centenarians are wise enough to know the importance of slowing down and appreciating life’s most precious moments that can often pass by much too quickly.

To be honest, I find this lesson the hardest for me to put into practice. I love to multi-task. It’s like as if it’s part of my DNA. At any given moment I can easily be working on multiple projects at the same time—especially those that need to be completed within a limited timeframe. It both energizes me and exhausts me. I like to think I’m being super-efficient, and oftentimes I am, but it often comes with a price. I’m usually rushing from one activity, project, appointment, etc. to another and honestly, I don’t always take time to “smell the roses”.

Fortunately, my son helps me put things into perspective. Each day I marvel at how he grows, changes and explores his new world. My husband and I think it’s so lovely how, at 15 months old, he always wants to be around us, even while he plays independently. However, we’re well aware that at 15 years old (which I’m told will come before I know it), he likely will not feel the same way. Watching him grow reminds me of the importance of slowing down, so not to miss all the precious moments life has to offer. He helps me to realize that the rushing and urgency I often give so many things in my life are really not so important.

I’ve heard that people who make it to 100 years old often seem to exude a sense of sublime serenity. They are aware of the importance of improving their lives through simplification and not only wise enough to know how to take it easy, but also have a keen understanding of limitations of the body. Whether I live to be 100 or not, I hope to start learning how better to slow down and develop a more refined and serene attentiveness to the people and things that are most important in my life. How about you?

Tips and strategies to find a quiet space and slow down.
Minimize the noise
Reduce time spent with T.V., radio and the Internet. It can lessen the amount of aural clutter in your life. Most electronic entertainment just feeds mind chatter and works counter to the notion of slowing down.

Be early
Plan to arrive 15 minutes early to every appointment. This one practice minimizes the stress that arises from traffic, getting lost or underestimating travel time. It allows you time to slow down and focus before a meeting or event.

Practice yoga | meditation
Create a quiet space at home that is not too hot, to cold, too dark or too light. Make it a comfortable space. Establish a regular time to meditate and/or practice yoga everyday, no matter what—but don’t stress out on the days you cannot!

Finding time for our spiritual side can create the space to slow down. Practices like meditation and yoga can also give the mind a respite.  Regular meditation can allow us to slow down our minds, ridding them of the incessant chatter in our heads. It focuses concentration and allows us to see the world as it really is, instead of how we imagine it to be.

I very much know that it’s a lot easier said than done. If you, like me, find it challenging to slow down, I sincerely wish you the best as you try to quiet the noise, slow down and not run so fast that you miss the wonders in this precious life! I’d love to hear of your experiences and if you have any tips to share about how best to slow down! La Vie en Bleu will continue with lesson number seven from the Blue Zones on how to live a healthier and happier life. Won’t you join me? Until then, bonne chance! 

xo,
Martine

The Blue Zones include: 
Nicoya, Costa Rica
Ikaria, Greece
Sardinia, Italy
Okinawa, Japan
Loma Linda, California

Related sites:
The Island Where People Forget to Die
Blue Zones
Life in the Blue Zone

11 thoughts on “Take it Easy

  1. Hi there! I really like your adorable and beautiful blog! You have gained another follower! Shanna from Curls and carrots had introduced me to your website, through our conversation about the ‘Blue Zone’. Thanks for all the links about this lifestyle as well. I got interested from learning about the healthful benefits of the Okinawan diet.
    -Izzy

    1. Hi Izzy, thanks for stopping by to visit and deciding to follow! I’m so happy to hear that you and Shanna have had conversations about the Blue Zone. There’s much to learn about living a happy, healthy and well balanced life and I love listening to advice from wise Blue Zone centenarians. The Okinawans in particular have so much wisdom to share. Their phrase, “Hara Hachi Bu” (eating to about 80% full) is great advice for all! Thanks again and best wishes for a very happy new year!

      1. Hi petit world citizen (?)
        No problem at all, since I have recently learned about this lifestyle, your blog will be the perfect place tl learn more about it. Also, do you have a post on hara hachi but? My father, I myself and my brother had an argument about eating to 80% full. My brother believes we are torturing our bodies by not eating until we are fullor satisfied.
        Izzy

        1. Hi Izzy, yes I do have a post titled Hara Hachi Bu. All posts related to the Blue Zone living can be found in the drop down menu of the categories section (on the left of my blog). Okinawans have practiced Hara Hachi Bu for many, many years and have reaped many health benefits as a result. For many of us, particularly Americans, we don’t know what eating until 80% full really means. It’s not about depriving our body of nutritional needs, nor is it about torturing our bodies. It’s more about eating until you no longer feel hungry. Eating until we are 100% full and eating until we no longer feel hunger is not necessarily the same thing. It’s possible to no longer feel hungry at 80% full. I believe we can eat until we feel satisfied and that can be at 80% full. I think it takes time to train ourselves to truly understand the difference between what our body needs (we shouldn’t torture ourselves) and what we have been conditioned to want (a feeling of bing stuffed). My post just scratches the surface of this Okinawan practice but more can be read about it in Dan Buettner’s book, The Blue Zones. I hope that helps. ~~Martine

        2. Hi Martine,
          Thank you very much for your considerate reply! I really like what you said here: “I think it takes time to train ourselves to truly understand the difference between what our body needs.” sometimes we are just used to eating in the way our modern lifestyle and custom persuades us (I feel like such a hypocrite saying this after a Japanese buffet!). I think my brother and I were both slightly confused about the meaning of eating until “80% full” which basically means eat until one has had enough (right?) as comparison to eating until our stomach is stuffed (what I did and slightly went beyond after dessert). It’s so hard to train oneself, but after you’ve got it, everything just changes for the better. Thanks for sharing your journey to a better lifestyle! (I loved your post on the dining guest thing, so adorable) and will check your post on Hari Hachi Bu out!
          -Izzy

        3. Hi Izzy, Glad I could help clarify things a bit. You’re right in that it does take a bit of thought and effort to train ourselves to eat well, but it does get easier with practice. And one should remember it’s a journey, the process of getting there is just important as arriving at the destination. Glad you like my posts on etiquette. Thanks for reading!

        4. Hi Martine,
          Thank you for replying to my queries 🙂 Your blog posts are really good tools of reflection. I like reading them. I am just about to write a new post on the okinawan foods, because I have just been to an “Okinawan style” restaurant that also had a really great ambience. Have you, other than making your own okinawan style meals, gone to a restaurant specializing in the islanders’ cuisine?
          -Izzy

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