Article image

9 Evidence-Based Principles for Living a Longer Life, With Quotes

What’s the secret to living a longer life? Is it possible to improve your chances of living to 100? These are some of the questions explorer and journalist Dan Buettner sought to answer when he set out in the year 2000 to investigate longevity.

Buettner focused on “Blue Zones,” communities where people live exceptionally long lives and also enjoy a high quality of life as they age. Individuals in these regions are a whopping 10 times more likely to live to 100 than U.S. citizens.

So why do centenarians abound in places such as Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; Icaria, Greece; and Sardinia, Italy? Buettner, along with a team of anthropologists, demographers, epidemiologists, and medical researchers, identified nine evidence-based common denominators, commonly referred to as the “Power 9."

We’ve broken down these nine lifestyle habits — along with quotes for each, naturally — in hopes of empowering you to unlock the longest, healthiest, most high-quality life you possibly can.

Move naturally

Rather than living sedentary lifestyles or engaging in more contrived forms of exercise such as lifting weights or running marathons, the world’s longest-lived people embrace the movement that comes naturally in everyday life. They do manual house and yard work instead of outsourcing it to technology that does it for them.

In our daily lives, this might look like opting to walk or bike short distances, parking our car farther from the entrance of the grocery store, working in our gardens, or choosing to take the stairs rather than the elevator.

Movement is the song of the body.
Vanda Scaravelli

Share Quote

The body will become better at whatever you do — or don’t do. You don’t move? The body will make you better at not moving … If you move, the body will allow you more movement.
Ido Portal

Share Quote

Know your purpose

Research shows that knowing our “why” can add up to seven years to our life expectancy. If you don’t yet have a clear goal in mind for your life, it may be worth exploring the Japanese concept of “ikigai” (reason to live). Our ikigai lies at the center of what we love, what we are good at, what we can be compensated for, and what the world needs.

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Share Quote

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.
Howard Thurman

Share Quote

Take time to downshift

We’ve all heard the countless ways that stress is detrimental to our health, but how can we cope when we live in a stressful world? It’s all about building stress-fighting routines that work for us. For example, among the populations Buettner studied, Ikarians take naps and Okinawans take a few intentional moments each day to remember their ancestors.

Focusing on mindfulness, pausing for a few minutes to meditate in the morning, or journaling a list of things you’re grateful for each evening are great ways to start.

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.
William James

Share Quote

To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.
Jill Bolte Taylor

Share Quote

Observe the 80% rule

This guideline is all about listening to our bodies and paying attention to our hunger cues. The basic gist of the 80% rule is simple: We should try to stop eating when our stomach is 80% full. This, in combination with eating one’s smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening (and not eating any more after that), seems to contribute to increased life expectancy.

Conscious eating is a big step toward conscious living.
Olivera Rosic and Nataša Nuit Pantović

Share Quote

Moderation — which you’ll find happens naturally once you learn to tune into your internal hunger cues — not avoidance, is all you need.
Linda Bacon

Share Quote

Eat a “plant slant” diet

No, you don’t have to go vegan or even vegetarian (unless you want to). But eating a mostly plant-based diet has a multitude of health benefits. Beans in particular are a very popular source of protein in centenarian diets, while meat (mostly pork) is eaten only about five times per month.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Michael Pollan

Share Quote

Plants are infinite — this diet isn’t limiting and there’s so much more to explore! That’s what excites me about it the most.
Denai Moore

Share Quote

Join in on happy hour

Again, this rule doesn’t demand that we start drinking alcohol if that isn’t something we want to do. But Buettner did find that people who live in Blue Zones regularly drink a moderate amount of alcohol (e.g., one to two glasses of wine per day), typically with friends and a meal.

This rule may have more to do with the social context of the drinking rather than the drinking itself, though. So regardless of whether you’re a drinker, try to partake in positive social interactions, no matter how small, on a daily basis.

Daily social interactions are the single best predictor of happiness.
Tom Rath

Share Quote

The social joys of making a meal with friends are known to all who have done so.
Billy Baker

Share Quote

Find where you belong

Only five of the 263 centenarians from the Blue Zones whom Buettner studied didn’t belong to some kind of faith-based community. If you’re not religious, try taking exercise classes with a group or joining a book club. Whatever your choice, finding a place where you feel accepted and seen is the key here.

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.
Maya Angelou

Share Quote

​​If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.
Steve Jobs

Share Quote

Put your loved ones first

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but making time for those we love is essential for our quality of life — no matter how long we live. The centenarians in Buettner’s study often had life partners, lived near (or with) other family members, and made regular efforts to spend time with their children.

The best times we’ve had on Earth are usually with those we love.
Van Harden

Share Quote

I’ve learned through the years that it’s not where you live, it’s the people who surround you that make you feel at home.
J.B. McGee

Share Quote

Seek a positive pack

Being surrounded by positivity can be truly transformative. When we choose a social circle that endorses and supports our healthy behaviors, we’re more likely to continue with those behaviors. We should all strive to choose and invest in friends who are committed to helping us become our best selves.

Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.
Oprah Winfrey

Share Quote

I have begun to wonder if the secret of living well is not in having all the answers but in pursuing unanswerable questions in good company.
Rachel Naomi Remen

Share Quote

Featured image credit: Stanley Kalvan/ Shutterstock

Author image
About the Author
Brooke Robinson
Inspiring Quotes editor, bibliophile, cinephile, and curry enthusiast based in Cleveland, Ohio.
Play more header background
Play more icon
Daily Question
What singer said, "Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind"?

More Inspiration

happiness theme icon

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.

separator icon
Walt Disney
motivation theme icon

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.

separator icon
Maya Angelou
hope theme icon

When you run into something interesting, drop everything else and study it.

separator icon
B.F. Skinner
love theme icon

We must turn to each other and not on each other.

separator icon
Jesse Jackson
wisdom theme icon

The secret of life is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.

separator icon
Paulo Coelho
happiness theme icon

If you’ve got it, flaunt it. And if you don’t got it? Flaunt it.

separator icon
Mindy Kaling
motivation theme icon

Progress is not possible without deviation.

separator icon
Frank Zappa
hope theme icon

Art is made in hindsight.

separator icon
Virgil Abloh
love theme icon

The cause of Freedom and the cause of Peace are bound together.

separator icon
Léon Blum
wisdom theme icon

The path from dreams to success does exist.

separator icon
Kalpana Chawla
happiness theme icon

Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help.

separator icon
Jane Goodall