Dan Buettner: The Blue Zones Of Happiness


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This week we welcome to the show Dan Buettner. He is an explorer, National Geographic Fellow, award-winning journalist and producer, and New York Times bestselling author. He discovered the five places in the world – dubbed Blue Zones – where people live the longest, healthiest lives. His articles about these places in The New York Times Magazine and National Geographic are two of the most popular for both publications.

Buettner now works in partnership with municipal governments, large employers, and health insurance companies to implement Blue Zones Projects in communities, workplaces, and universities. Blue Zones Projects are well-being initiatives that apply lessons from the Blue Zones to entire communities by focusing on changes to the local environment, public policy, and social networks. The program has dramatically improved the health of more than 5 million Americans to date. His books, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way, The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People, and The Blue Zones of Happiness were all national bestsellers. Buettner has appeared on The Today Show, Oprah, NBC Nightly News, and Good Morning America, and has keynoted speeches at TEDMED, Bill Clinton’s Health Matters Initiative, and Google Zeitgeist. His speech in January 2018 at the World Economic Forum in Davos was chosen as “one of the best of Davos.” Buettner also holds three Guinness World Records in distance cycling.

Questions we ask in this episode:

  • Your last two books, The Blue Zones and The Blue Zones Solution, are about longevity and learning to live like the world’s centenarians. How, if at all, did that work inspire you to focus on happiness for your new book?
  • There are many books already out there about happiness. What’s different about THE BLUE ZONES OF HAPPINESS?
  • With all your discoveries, what has the most significant impact on a person’s overall happiness?
  • The book includes a Blue Zones Happiness Test. How did you design this test?

his week, we are doing it with the fantastic Dan Buettner. Now, if you’re not familiar with Dan’s work, he’s a multiple New York Times bestselling author, and he was very famously known for the book The Blue Zones. If you’ve been listening to our podcast, you know we’ve covered the topic a little bit from time to time on the air, which absolutely fascinates me. Essentially Blue Zones are dubbed where people live the longest and are the healthiest. His New York Times Sunday magazine article about these places, “The Island Where People Forgot to Die” was one of the Times’s most popular, and his National Geographic cover story, “The Secrets of Living Longer,” was a finalist for National Magazine Award. I think the Blue Zones has even reached cult status where there’s five of them in the world. And we’ll certainly get into that today. But we’re here today to talk about Dan’s new book, The Blue Zones of Happiness, and what really drives happiness and the lessons he’s learned from that. No doubt, you’re gonna enjoy the show today, so let’s go over to Dan Buettner. Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke as always. Good morning, Stuart.


Hello, mate.


And our awesome guest today is Dan Buettner. Dan, welcome to the show.


It’s a delight to be here.


Mate, I’m itching for this. This topic has come up so many times on our podcast over the last few years. Yeah, I can’t wait to get stuck into it. Now, Dan, we ask a question on every show for a guest, and that is, if a stranger stopped you on the street and asked you what you did for a living, what would you say?


I explore traditional cultures, and I distill their wisdom for other people to use. How’s that?


That’s perfect.


That would get me talking for sure, so I like it.


I’ve had the good fortune to work for National Geographic for the last 15 years, and I’ve developed a bit of a specialty of finding extraordinary populations and then distilling down their wisdom, and we’re very rigorous about measuring these populations and then also using vetted methodologies to distill down, what can we learn from them? So that’s the general …

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