Tips on how to live a long, happy life from the happiest places on Earth

Dan Buettner
Dan Buettner is the best-selling author of books about "The Blue Zones."
Sea Stachura for MPR News

For the first week of the new year, Minnesota native Dan Buettner has done a lot of global research and has some suggestions about the best ways to have a happy life.

His four top recommendations?

Have something to do, someone to love, something to look forward to and something to give back.

According to a study out of Harvard University, people who believe life is long and easy are the happiest.

Only about 20 percent of people fall into that category, Beuttner said. "They're about 30 percent happier, about 50 percent more likely to vote and 60 percent more likely to give money."

Buettner is a National Geographic fellow, and a best-selling author. His newest book is "The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons from the World's Happiest People."

In his travels, Buettner says he found nine common denominators when you see people who live a long time.

1) They don't exercise more, but they live somewhere that nudges them to move every 20 minutes.

2) They worry about much of the same things everyone else does, but they have daily rituals to help relieve the stress.

3) They have a sense of purpose, and can express what that is.

4) They drink a little bit of alcohol.

5) They eat a diet high in carbohydrates, "the lentil type. Ninety to 100 percent plant-based."

6) They have strategies to keep from over-eating, including large breakfasts and small dinners.

7) They invest in family, keeping aging parents close.

8) They tend to be religious.

9) They surround themselves with people who also live healthy, active lives.

Buettner spoke November 8, 2017 at the Commonwealth Club of California.

To listen to his speech, click the audio player above.

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