Lifestyle and Environment
Lifestyle: Getting Better
Your lifestyle describes your ideas and actions as reflected in the way you spend your time. We emphasize time because life is time-based. And, in that time only moves in one direction, it requires us to continually prioritize our choices as we decide how we will interact with our environment and the people within our sphere of influence. Although we tend to become blissfully numb to the seconds ticking by, the truth is that every moment is a fork in the road, a decision to be made. Each choice builds on the next and, over time, they become habit.
The goal is for us to recognize the power of our choices at each possible juncture as we become healthier, happier, calmer, more energized, and more effective at sharing ourselves and our best gifts with others. The goal is to develop habits that make our living better.
According to Freidman and Martin in The Longevity Project, the longest-lived people they studied had the qualities of a “prudent, persistent, well organized person”. They called these characteristics "conscientious behaviors”. Folks having these qualities tended to make healthier decisions about marriage and relationships, work, and health behaviors, which also increased longevity. These individuals were more thoughtful, proactive, careful and consistent. They simply made better choices. But, how do you become that type of person, and what can you do in order to live longer? What if someone had accumulated, organized and synthesized all of the best information about the best ways to live, and all you had to do was learn it, internalize it and implement it in your own unique way?
Environment: Rich Soil
One of our favorite authors, Dan Buettner, who wrote Blue Zones and The Blue Zones of Happiness deserves full credit for what we think is some of the best guidance available in this area. In his books and on his website, he describes how he discovered five 'islands' of long-lived individuals in various locations around the globe and the lessons he learned from them. As a writer for National Geographic, Dan’s worldview and philosophies are firmly grounded in the concept of “place”. He proposes that a healthy environment is the basis for healthy living, and that rather than attempting to change behaviors in aggregate, we can ‘move the needle’ further by redesigning communities so that healthier choices are essentially unavoidable.
At DAC we also agree that our environments must be optimized and that we can do this both collectively and as individuals. We agree that our home is of the utmost
importance. Our clinics are very intentionally designed as community clinics. We support community gardens, weekly clean-up walks in various neighborhoods, biking and walking paths, and green spaces wherever possible. We encourage our patients to gather in groups to walk, bike, swim and run for both social and physical health. We ask you to rise early and spend two hours per week enjoying the natural environment around you in order to heal your body, refresh your mind and connect with your spiritual self.
Dan and his Blue Zone research teams were able to distill out nine life characteristics that long-lived populations hold in common. He found that these groups:
• Move naturally
• Have a sense of purpose
• Engage in stress-reduction routines
• Stop eating before they are full (80% rule)
• Eat mostly plants
• Drink red wine moderately with family, friends and food
• Belong to a faith-based community
• Prioritize family and life partners
• Have strong social networks
This list gives us an excellent "blue"print for describing a healthy lifestyle that will allow us to make fewer mistakes as we choose in the moment. When we choose to live in a certain way and in a certain environment, we will have better opportunity to develop those healthy habits that we know will allow us a better life. Pretty simple. Remember: your environment is where you are at any moment. It is the people you are near (or not near) every day. You must choose to surround yourself with healthy alternatives and healthy voices, so you are planted in rich soil that will allow you to grow. It is absolutely essential that you seek out healthy places, spaces and people and live so that you build the best life possible.
Full Circle: Back to You
Growth and change always happen just one person at a time. Since any individual can change his or her mind at any time, it is individuals who must choose to respect one another with intention and with good reason and who will then consistently look out for the best interests of the community and the environment they share. It comes down to changing people’s hearts. And, that is what we focus on at DAC. We know we won’t help everyone. We just try to help those we can. If our voice gets bigger, so will our impact. We will see how it goes, but we won’t stop trying. Our goal at DAC is to do the heavy lifting for you. Our effort and focus is to bring you the most truthful, useful and effective ideas to create the best methods to optimize your life and well-being.
Why do we do this? Because we want you to make a difference with your life. And, part of that difference is seeing that life is never just about any individual. In a 13.5 billion year-old universe and on a planet where there are about 8 billion people who have all appeared in the last 1/6 of a second of the year, how can this human existence place any one of us at the center? Our purposes can only be tied to all of us, everything we perceive and cannot perceive, everything that is. We must look outside of ourselves in order to find our reason for arriving here. That's why we encourage you to ask how and why you have come to be, and what you will do with your gift of life. You will only take from this life the lessons you learn and the love that you choose. We think that as you allow this reality to help you put things in perspective and as you seek to understand what were you made to be and do, you will discover your purposes and allow yourself to fulfill them. We will do our very best to help you. But... the clock is ticking.
(If you jumped ahead to check out this section, please read up on Joy and Purpose and The Four Pillars to see how the big picture fits together.)