I had a wonderful opportunity last week to visit  with National Geographic fellow Dan Buettner and the Blue Zone team in Minnesota.
Dan and his collaborators found nine things (Power 9) that these very long- and well-lived people did differently than people in other parts of the world.
The Power 9 include the following habits:
  • Move more – not to the gym, but walking, biking, swimming for fun and for transport.
  • Eat differently – mostly plant-based diet and about 80%of the serving size we use.
  • Have a drink – people from Blue Zone areas have 2-3 glasses of wine a day.
  • Have a purpose – in Okinawa they call it ikigai (the reason for getting up for the day).
  • Have friends – there are small social groups called moias that are common in these areas.
  • Share spirituality – belonging to a faith-based community helps longevity.
  • Relax more – downshift regularly.
  • Belong and find your tribe.
  • Family first.
Dan also asked several questions that predict living until 90 years old: 
  • Do you move for at least 30 minutes on most days?
  • Sleep at least 7.5 hours on average each night?
  • Do you have at least three servings of vegetables per day?
  • Had no unprotected sex with a stranger?
  • Have at least three friends you could call if a problem arose and they would answer no matter what time?
  • Go to church four times a month?
  • Have not smoked in five years?
  • Believe you will live to 90 years?
Of those, want to guess which one is the most predictive?
Drumroll, please.
It is believing you will live to 90 years.
This insight supports the impact our belief system has on our life and outcomes.
Just like we have previously discussed, perceiving high intensity and long duration of chronic stress ages one biologically. Now we realize that wanting and believing you will live for 90 years is the best predictor of longevity in Blue Zone populations.
To me, this information supports the concept that we have ultimate power in our lives, but many of us don’t realize or believe this.
Power to deeply impact the quality and duration of our lives.
To realize this great gift, we need to change our approach.
Seeing is not believing, but believing is seeing.
Changing our mindset to believing we can create the life we dream may be the primary secret to receiving this gift.
A life of abundance and joy.
A life of adventure and growth.
With good friends. With strong purpose.
The secret?
Belief and mindset.
Almost heaven.


  • Clay B. Marsh

    Chief Health Officer, West Virginia University

    Clay B. Marsh, MD, is West Virginia University’s chief health officer, and serves as a member of President E. Gordon Gee’s leadership team. As WVU’s vice president for health sciences, he oversees five health sciences schools and three health campuses.