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Zen Habits | Create a Superhealth Community| Marathi stories | Hindi Stories | Gujarati Stories

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Create a Superhealth Community

Post written by Leo Babauta.

This article in the N.Y. Times about the superhealthy community on the little Greek island of Ikaria is enlightening.

Ikarians are living much older than most other Westerners, and are healthy, active, purposeful and happy well into old age. What’s their secret? Is it diet, or exercise, or no smoking, or a little bit of red wine?

Sure, it’s a bit of those things, but more importantly, it’s the community.

Ikarians live in a community where it is the norm to eat mostly plant foods (beans, potatoes, veggies from the garden), drink some wine with neighbors, walk everywhere, garden during the day, take naps in the afternoon, not stress about time, wake naturally, socialize with the community every day.

In the U.S., we often live in communities where it is the norm to drive everywhere, sit most of the day, eat fast food or at chain restaurants or convenience foods, eat lots of meat and fried foods and dairy, be isolated, be inactive, hurry up and stress out about time.

The problem isn’t so much forming individual healthy habits, but forming a community that fosters healthy habits.

This bears out when you look at other communities that are healthy, even well into old age: the Okinawans, the Seventh-Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California, the Sardinians, and so on. They all have communities that foster healthy habits.

So what can we do if we’re in the wrong kind of community? Create a superhealth community.

Let’s look at our options.

Outline of a Superhealth Community

There isn’t one single definition of what a “Superhealth” Community would entail — if you look at the examples above, there are all slightly different kinds of habits that people in these communities have. But here are some of what seem to be important:

  1. Interact daily. Socializing is an important function in community, whether that be visiting neighbors, meeting in a marketplace, going to church, or talking in some way.
  2. Walk or exercise. Most of the communities mentioned above feature daily walking — sometimes a daily walk for exercise and socializing, other times just to get around to the store or neighbors’ houses.
  3. Eat plants. While not all communities mentioned above are vegetarian, plants make up the huge majority of their calories. Cow’s milk doesn’t, and meat is usually a small part of their meal. Okinawans (traditionally) eat soy and purple sweet potatoes and lots of veggies and a little fish, Sardinians eat beans and potatoes and veggies and goat’s cheese. Lots and lots of vegetables and fruits are good. Read about forming a plant-based diet.
  4. Eat in moderation. All of the communities mentioned eat in moderation. The American standard, however, is to super-size and pile plates high. Moderation is a good thing.
  5. Garden. It seems like almost everyone in these communities has a garden, and they garden daily. This is one area I haven’t included in my life yet.
  6. Wine. Actually, I think the Okinawans drink a nasty tasting home-brewed alcohol, but the Ikarians drink wine, so I’ll choose their method. They do it in moderation, and socially.
  7. Tea. There are lots of good things in tea, and drinking it in the late afternoon is a good ritual, also socially if possible.
  8. Purpose. Have a reason to get up in the morning. In the U.S., the retired (or unemployed) often don’t have this purpose, and don’t feel they have anything useful to do each day. The community should integrate them and draw upon their knowledge and experience — the elderly are great teachers and can be very active into old age.

You might also include attitudes about time, taking naps, waking naturally, and having a positive outlook on life. But I think the seven things outlined above would be a good start.

Now let’s look at some of our options if we live in a modern society.

Option 1: Friends & Family Community

If you friends and family aren’t that healthy yet, start talking to them about doing a monthly challenge, where you adopt one of the healthy habits above. See how many of them you can get on board — it might only be one or two at first, but two people is all that’s needed to form a community. Others might be inspired to join you in later months when they see the healthy changes you’ve made.

So for the first month, simply form the habit of walking. The next month, aim to eat more plants and less meat and dairy. The third month, simply get together and drink tea on a regular basis. And so on.

Get together on a regular basis — daily if that’s possible, but at least a couple times a week. And if you can’t get together daily, talk on the phone, on Facebook, or via email on a daily basis. This regular contact helps you get support from each other, keep each other accountable, forms a bond of doing something together.

Option 2: Find Like-Minded Friends

If you don’t have friends or family who can join you in a Superhealth Community, find some new friends. I’ve found good ones online who are in my area, and also by joining a running club. You can go to vegan meet-ups, or join a fitness bootcamp class or yoga class, and meet people there.

Even if you can just find one like-minded friend, that’s a good start. Then ask your new friend to join you in the monthly challenges outlined in the first option above.

Option 3: Create or Join an Online Community

If you can’t find people near you, then find them online. Today there’s no excuse for not being able to find people interested in what you’re interested in — they exist in troves online.

Don’t know where to start? How about Facebook friends, or Facebook groups? Or go to large healthy blogs and join the commenting community. Or find online forums that are about the topics you’re interested in changing.

If you can find a few online friends, start your own group. There are a few dozen ways, at least, to form an online group that talks on a regular basis, that can support each other in healthy changes.

Option 4: Change Your Neighborhood

This is the hardest option, because it involves changing a large group of people who don’t talk to each other often (probably), and who might not want to change. That’s OK — don’t focus on that part.

You can start by creating something new, or joining something already there:

  • A community garden
  • A group that walks every morning or afternoon
  • A gardening class
  • A running club
  • A vegan meet-up
  • Get-togethers featuring tea or wine and plant foods
  • Community projects where people work together with purpose
  • Classes taught by the elderly

Those are just a few ideas. You don’t have to get everyone to change — but you can start the change by leading by example.

A Superhealth Community might sound difficult, but really it’s not. It’s getting together (in real life or online) with at least one other person, and supporting each other in a healthy lifestyle. After you have one other person, maybe later you’ll have two. Then you’ll have changed the world.


The Simple Fitness Habit

Speaking of creating a superhealthy environment: I’ve created a new program called The Simple Fitness Habit.

I’ve gotten together with a group of health & fitness experts to create this program that focuses not only on a diet & exercise program to follow, but how to create the habit. It’s the component that’s missing from almost every fitness progam: they don’t tell you how to form the habits to get the changes you want.

You can check it out here: The Simple Fitness Habit page

Zen Habits

Leo Babuata
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Neither Averting Nor Craving in Each Moment
How Taking Care of My Finances Changed My Life
Tips for Traveling with Kids
My Grand Travel Experiment
The Parent I Aspire to Be
The Best & Less-than-Best Motivations for Learning
The Miracle of Suspending Mis-Belief
7 Strategies for Dealing with Toxic People
Finding Motivation on Important But Non-Urgent Tasks
Learning Tips for the Top 8 Learning Challenges
The 30-Day Learning Challenge
The Place Where You Are
Feeling Determined to Change
Practicing Non-Judgment
Hold Your Own Feet to the Fire
Don’t Waste Your Opportunity
How to Beat Procrastination with Daily Training
The Time When We’ll Be Present & Content
A Simple, Powerful Self-Compassion Method
When Others Frustrate You
Your Internet Habits Create Your Reality
The Case for Replacing Exercise with Play
Leave Yourself Wanting More
Fail Faster at Habits
The Anti-Bucket List
Getting Started with the Discipline Habit
The Case for Caring About Your Work
Questions of Priority
The Futility of Always Pushing Myself to Be More
Pare Down with the Declutter Habit
You’re Not Doing Life Wrong
Getting Lost in Just Doing
An Addict’s Guide to Overcoming the Distraction Habit
The Source of Contentment
Savor Discipline: Merge the Interests of Your Future & Present Selves
What You Can Say Instead of “I Don’t Feel Like It”
The Things That Get in the Way of Doing
The Girl Who Saw Through the Illusions
A Gradual Approach to Healthy Eating
Unconditional Acceptance of Yourself
My Typical Day: How I Get People to Think I’m Productive
The Contentment Habit
The Delightfully Short Guide to Reading More Books
In Praise of Limits
The Art of Being My Dad
5 Ideas to Create an Amazing 2015
Essential Zen Habits of 2014
Karate Chop
Practicing Slowness & Being Present
Overwhelmed by All the Changes You Want to Make
My 2014 Successes and Failures
Finding the Motivation to Change Your Entire Life
When You’re Lonely
The Brain’s Fast Mode
5 Questions to Simplify Your Life During the Holidays
The Zen Habits Holiday Gift Guide
The Four Hidden Habit Skills
The Power of Delay
Overwhelmed & Rushed? Do a Stress Assess
Writer as Coder: The Iterative Way to Write a Book
Please Support the Zen Habits Book
Are You a Lift or Drag Force?
When Resistance Smacks You in the Face
When Your Plate is Too Full
The Quickstart Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit
The Zen Habits Book is Almost Done
A Quick Guide to Gaining Confidence When You Socialize
The Empty Container
The Realization
A Guide to Changing Self-Destructive Behaviors
Pushing Past the Terrifying Dip in Motivation
It’s Not Too Late to Change Bad Habits
The Smart Way to Stick to Habits
My Most Effective Learning Tools
What I Do When I Fail
How to Put Your Writing in Public
The Productive Sprint
The Biggest Reasons You Haven’t Changed Your Habits
Seized by the Thunderhold of Fear
What to Eat for Fat Loss
The Heartbreaking Cruelty of Comparing Yourself to Others
A Brief Guide to Overcoming Instant Gratification
How to Get Motivated After a Vacation
7 Strategies for Facing Your Internet/TV Addiction
How to Breathe
7 Discipline-Mastering Practices
7 Rules That Keep My Life Simple
An Education in the Majestic Sierra Nevada
The Lies Your Mind Tells You to Prevent Life Changes
How to Believe in Yourself
Don’t Waste a Moment
How to Find Your Life Purpose: An Unconventional Approach
How to Be Great
Making Yourself Work
Inhabit the Moment
How to Master the Art of Living
The Delusional Fantasies We Live With Each Day
Living the Simple Life
How to Be Prepared for Anything
Turn Toward the Problem
The End of the Day Philosophy
The Painful Beauty of Impermanence
How to Change Other People
Pursuing Happiness When It’s Already Within You
The Quickstart Guide to a Decluttered Home
Parental Zen: How to Keep Your Cool as a Parent
Looking for Love
How to Stop Your Habit Changes From Getting Derailed
Why We Have Regret
The Essence of Fatherhood: 6 Simple Lessons
A Call for Revolt: Advertising is the Anti-Minimalism
The Frustratingly Slow Pace of Making Changes
My Struggles with Eating Boring Food
The No Procrastination Challenge
Creating a Lovely Morning
A Father’s Manifesto: Raising Young Men Who Respect Women
Turn Inspiration Into Action
Coming Back From a Setback
The Gift
A Guide for Young People: What to Do With Your Life
No Excuses: Minimalism with Kids
How to Make a Marriage Work
Love Notes
Flavorless: My Month of Food Boringness
The Letting Go Ebook, Free
The Miracle of the Self-Compassion Habit
How I Tackle a Big Writing Project
The Habit Action List
The Reality of This Moment
Confidence in Your Business
10 Ways to Do What You Don’t Want to Do
On Making It Through Tough Journeys
The Hard Stuff Often Matters Most
What to Think About During Exercise
You’ll Be OK
The Most Important Two Minutes of Your Life
A Call for Compassion for the Defenseless
The Cure for Your Distraction Syndrome
You’re Not Worse Than Other People
Being Mindful of Your Stress
What if You Didn’t Have to Worry About Yourself?
The Universe of a Single Task
Simplifying Is Painful
Becoming Emotionally Self-Reliant
How I Cleaned House & Simplified My Work Life
The Busy Person’s Guide to Reducing Stress
My Month Without a Smartphone
What I’ve Learned as a Writer
What the Exercise Habit Did For Me
Fear is the Root of Your Problems
This Moment
36 Lessons I’ve Learned About Habits
The 3 Do-What-You-Love Conundrums
How I Conduct My Business
Constant Task Switching
The Habits of Five Amazing Founders
The Incredible Importance of Sleep for Habits & Motivation
What Really Motivates Us to Stick to a Project?
I Tried to Quit & It’s Too Hard!
Unwired: A Month With Limited Internet, & Now No Cell Phone
Procrastination is a Mindfulness Problem
Letting Go of Judging People
Don’t Scratch the Itch
Become Happy in the Face of Physical Misery
How Repetition Can Kickstart a Habit
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When You’re Feeling Self-Doubt & a Lack of Motivation
The Child That Holds Us Back
Stateless Mindset
My Month of (Almost) No Internet
12 Changes for 2014
Essential Zen Habits of 2013
The Fear of Being Alone
The Calm Approach
Things Every Man Should Own
Family Gatherings: The Ultimate Mindfulness Training Ground
Letter to an 18-year-old on the Career Path Less Traveled
A Method to Find Balance
16 Surprising Lessons from My First 50-Mile Ultramarathon
The Simple Fitness Habit Holiday Challenge
Struggles with My Morning Internet Fast
Surrender, Mindfulness & Entrepreneurship
How I Learned to Stop Procrastinating, & Love Letting Go
Finding Focus
When You Run Out of Ideas
The Necessary Art of Subtraction
Jealousy & Suffering
How Creativity Works, & How to Do It
Self-Discipline in 5 Sentences
Make It Your Job
Developing Selfless Compassion
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A Month Without Sugar
Why I Read (+ a Dozen Book Recommendations)
12 Indispensable Mindful Living Tools
Burn Down the Farm
My Most Minimal Travel Setup Yet
The Exquisite Habits of the Founder of Blue Bottle Coffee
3 Little Tricks to Deal With People Who Offend You
My Healthiest Travel Routine Yet
Startup Founder Megan Casey’s Habits of Priorities
My Pursuit of the Art of Living
A Month Without TV or Video
The Way of No Debt
Letting Go: How to Live With the Loss of a Loved One
The Way to Be
Ramit Sethi’s Entrepreneurial Habits
The Time to Shut Down
The Pain & Beauty of Life Changes
8 Creativity Lessons from a Pixar Animator
Zen Mountain: Leave It All Behind
Overcoming the Social Costs of Being Different
Finding Quiet and Mindfulness Through Food
My Failed Month of ‘No Sitting’
The Thinking Habit That Changed My Life
Liking Healthy Foods is a Choice
Unschoolery: My New Blog on Unschooling
My Advice for Starting a Business
Creating Your Habit Environment
Travel Lessons with My Family
Easier Decision-Making: Conduct Experiments
Simplify: Let Go of Your Crutches
The Fear of Being Found a Fraud
The Flexible Mind
Declutter Your Life
A Month Without Coffee
The Healthful Vegan Diet
Living the Quiet Life
The Art of Tasting Chocolate Mindfully
Why Fear of Discomfort Might Be Ruining Your Life
The Habits of Happiness
How to Keep Habits Going During Travel
A Year of Living Without
The Key Habits of Organization
I Failed
Vegan Guide to San Francisco
The Futility of Comparing Yourself to Others
A Secret to Dad Greatness
Habits: A Simple Change in Mindset Changes Everything
The Worry That You’re Doing the Wrong Thing Right Now
6 Steps To Being More Creative
How I Finally Faced My Weight & Debt Problems
Working with the Obstacles in Your Path
9 Rules for a Simpler Day
The Little Book of Contentment
The Obstacle is the Path
5 Lessons in Contentment from Billionaires Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger
Smile in Each Moment
A Guide to Practical Compassion
6 Steps To Healing Yourself
The 7-Day Vegan Challenge
Why You Should Write Daily
Achieving Without Goals
Flowing with the Stresses of Kids (or anyone else)
Habit Mastery: Creating the New Normal
Defeat Distraction: Refocusing with Purpose
Expanding the Envelope: A Method for Beating Anger
A Guide to Practical Contentment
The Practice of Work Mind & Vacation Mind, Simultaneously
How to Eat Real Food Without Spending Hours in the Kitchen
Quitting Your Habits
The 38 Best Methods of Successful Exercisers
How To Make It Impossible To Fail
The Not Knowing Path of Being an Entrepreneur
How to Change Your Life: A User’s Guide
Getting Your Family On Board with Life Changes
How to Stick to a Habit When Life Falls Apart
Zen Mind in the Middle of Chaos & Stress
Create a Sacred Space in Your Heart
Meditation: The Most Fundamental Habit
Creating the Genuine Connections We Long For
Tremors of Psychitude: One Little Trick to Find Purpose and Motivation
Create the Habits of Being Lean, in 7 Years
Walled-in: Life Without Facebook
The 7 Habits of Calmness
The Four Habits that Form Habits
Advice to My Kids
My 10 Essential Email Habits
The Daily Checklist
Sticking to a Habit: The Definitive Guide
The Meditation Diet: How I Lost 60+ lbs. by Savoring
The Power of Habit Investments
Discomfort Zone: How to Master the Universe
The Most Successful Techniques for Rising Early
Do Less: A Short Guide
How to Savor Life
What We Lack in a Hyperconnected World
Simplify the Internet
12 Rules to Live By
The New Rules of Fitness for 2013
52 Changes for 2013
The Unprocrastination Month, and the Relaunch of the Sea Change Program
Essential Zen Habits of 2012
The Other Person is Never the Problem
The Do Plan, or Why We Know But Don’t Do
28 Brilliant Tips for Living Life
The Clutter-free Holiday Guide
The Little Trick to Make Any Moment Better
Tim Ferriss vs. Leo Babauta Showdown: On Whether Goals Suck
The Work You Love is Waiting For You
The 7-Step Method to Find Focus for Writing
The Buy-Nothing Holiday Survival Guide
Challenge: Buy Nothing Until 2013
How to Learn Anything
Shaken By Life’s Beauty, Shaken
Untrack: Letting Go of the Stress of Measuring
15 Great Excuses Not to Form the Fitness Habit
How to Make Health Insurance a Bad Bet
Why the Fitness Habit is More Important Than the Plan
The Willingness to Think Differently
Create a Superhealth Community
A Vegan Tour of NYC

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