The biggest disease today is not what you think

The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of not belonging.  -Mother Theresa

This amazing quote is the inspiration for this post. 

Humans are hard wired for connection. We need to feel that we belong in order to be healthy. A few months back I read The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner. A Blue Zone is a region of the world where people commonly live past the age of 100.

The Blue Zones book takes a look at these zones in order to figure out what they have in common. What do Blue Zone folks have in common? They have a plant-based diet, above average physical activity (often gardening or walking) and a strong sense of community. People in Blue Zones are socially active and integrated into their communities.


Would you like your area to become a Blue Zone? Why not increase your efforts to connect with others? This could be a note, an invitation, a smile or a phone call. New American Dream posted the idea of bringing cookies to a neighbor. It’s simple, easy and helps build community.

At our home we’ve been having friends over for dinner. In the past I’ve had lots of reasons for not doing this. Here are a few of my silly reasons:

  • I’m not much of a cook
  • Being a family of three is awkward (one parent, two kids)
  • Cooking and cleaning are too much work
  • I’m too tired

However, I’ve put aside these excuses because community and connection are more important. The results? More joy. We’ve had some wonderful dinners, conversations and lots of fun with friends. Making dinner for family and friends is worth every bit of effort.

How about you? How do you build community in your life?

Interested in the lifestyle of longevity? Take a look at the Blue Zones web site. It’s good stuff.


3 thoughts on “The biggest disease today is not what you think

  1. I love this post! So fascinating. I can’t wait to read that book. I’ve been reading about the Okinawans for years. They live to be over 100 routinely. Based on my own anecdotal evidence of watching people age, I think diet is important, but even more important is this social aspect- the sense of community and purpose.

    I’m so glad you’ve been having people to dinner more often. I’ve decided to have smaller parties more often so that it doesn’t seem such a big deal. Just decide that week who to invite, and have a “cocktail party”- drinks and snacks, nothing fancy. Just a way to see friends more often and have fun.

  2. We’ve been inviting people over to play Rock Band Beatles the past couple months. Lots of fun. There’s nothing like a room full of people singing “I am the walrus… koo koo ka-choo”.

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