When I first Read about the Blue Zones, I got very excited and started researching. I ran across the Wikipedia page that asked some strong question, so I started going back to the original research, and also found other studies. One, not mentioned in the Blue Zones, was the Longevity Project. It followed children their whole lives until the last one died. It was fascinating comparing its conclusions to the Blue Zone.
The Blue Zone noted that the people in every zone were spiritual. Two were mostly Catholic, another was Greek Orthodox, one was a type of Protestant, and the last was a type of Buddhist/ancestor worship. The Longevity Project also noted that the longest lived were much more likely to be spiritual.
The question is, “What is it about spirituality that leads to longer life?” In the Blue zone book, it is noted that the spiritual are less likely to engage harmful behaviors, physically more active, less likely to drink, smoke, and do drugs, engage in self-reflection, decompression, and meditation, have larger social networks, have higher self-esteem and self-worth.
In comparison, the Longevity Project mentions the studies that show that the man’s spirituality doesn’t affect him much, but the woman’s affects her longevity. The focus on honoring your parents is mentioned, but it is the not spiritual aspect of their religion, but associated qualities that caused the benefit. For example, one who expresses her religion by watching religious TV programs does not benefit, but the active engagement with other church members and the resulting strong social network. Also, meditating, prayer, or religious reading doesn’t add to the lifespan, but living the religious life, with its good habits.
Though the two sets of conclusions were mostly the same, there were a few differences, such as the Blue Zone’s conclusion that meditation was beneficial and the Longevity Project’s conclusion that it was not. How does the Bible respond to these ideas? The following is a list from the
Bible of things that are associated with long life;
Follow all the commandments (including those that make you a good citizen.)
Watch your tongue and seek peace
Given honor by God
Wisdom and understanding
Never Drink wine
These show that the two points of being socially connected in good standing, and engaging in good behavior and not the bad are the same as both the Blue Zones and the Longevity Project. Note, though, that being socially connected alone is not enough. If you are socially connected with a crowd that encourages bad behavior, according to the Bible, it will not lead to long life. For example, in Proverbs, it says, “A companion of fools suffers harm.” and “The wicked are like chaff that blows away.”
How, though, do we attain them? Many people think that striving to obey the commands is they way. The problem is that it tends to make us self focused. People can tell if you are trying to care just to make yourself better. In the Bible, we see that God wants us to pray. The prayer He wants is to quiet our selves and listen for His voice. He loves each and every person in the world intensely. When we listen to His voice, we hear that love. He says, I loved people so much that I came to earth, I suffered and I died for these people. I want you to be like me. When we hear Him say, Sally just lost her son, she needs someone to listen, what can we do but forget about our worries and listen to her. When we hear Him say George was just told that he has cancer, and he is scared, well if we have had cancer or had a loved one with the dread disease, we can tell of our experiences and struggles, and then listen to him. God’s love should so dominate, that we forget about ourselves. You will find that if you care, that when you run into a hard time, all these people are ready to be there for you. When you get filled with God’s love, you are honest and caring, and you get surrounded by honest and caring people. This makes for a strong social network, and that leads to long life.