Legacy Paper

Legacy Paper




Legacy Paper

Part 2: Application of Course Concepts

The interviews with senior citizens revealed many details about the way that people perceive life when they age. The interviews covered six senior citizens from different socio-economic groupings. They had lived their lives in different ways and this meant that they had varying perceptions on how to successfully live a life that is free of regret. While the interviewees revealed varying issues about life and old age. There were recurring themes in the issues that they raised as well as their perceptions towards life. These recurring themes match various ideas and concepts were covered in the course material such as the blue zones power 9, and leaving a legacy.

Application of Power 9 Concept in the Interviews

One of the concepts that relate to legacies and the longevity of life is Buettner’s Blue Zones Power Nine. With the understanding that lifestyle and environment play significant roles in determining how long people live. Some researchers led an expedition to various parts of the world where many members of the population lived beyond the average ages in their countries and around the world. The research team found five places in the world where many members of the population lived far beyond the average life expectancy (Buettner, 2014a). These five places also had the highest concentrations of people who lived for as much as a century. According to Buettner, the five locations are Barbagia in Sardinia, Ikaria in Greece, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, Loma Linda in California (specifically a concentration of Seventh Day Adventists living there) and Okinawa in Japan. While the geographic and social conditions in these five regions varied, there were some similarities in the lives of people within them (Buettner, 2014a). These similarities led Buettner to develop the Power Nine concept that details the nine factors that make people live longer and more fulfilling lives.

The nine factors that researchers discovered in the five blue zones concerned lifestyle, diet, and social activities. Firstly, the people living in the five zones tended to live relatively natural lifestyles. This meant that they had little reliance on machinery for their movement and daily activities. Secondly, people living in the blue zones had a purpose in life that drove them. According to Buettner (2014b), having a purpose can increase a person’s life expectancy by as much as seven years. Thirdly, life in the blue zones included daily activities that helped the people living there reduce their stress. This included naps, meditation, and happy hours. A forth issue that researchers uncovered was an eating practice that ensured the people in the Blue Zones did not eat too much. The fifth and sixth factors both entailed diet. People in the blue zones mostly eat plant-based meals, with legumes making up most of their diet (Buettner, 2014b). Contrastingly, communities in the areas rarely consumed meats. In addition to this, the researchers found that alcoholic drinks, especially wine were an important part of the diet. However, these drinks were taken regularly and in moderation. The seventh issue researchers discovered was the importance of belonging to faith-based communities, as this appeared to boost life expectancy by up to fourteen years (Buettner, 2014b). The eight issue concerned family, with the centenarians in these blue zones all indicating that they always placed their families fast. Lastly, the people who lived longest within the blue zones had the advantage of being born into communities that supported healthy lifestyles (Buettner, 2014b).

While the factors the researchers identified in the blue zones may not represent clear blueprints for healthy living, consistencies between them and the information from the interviews indicates that certain issues provide  significant boosts to people’s lives. Firstly, the issue of finding a purpose in life, as described by the communities in the blue zones, resonates with the ideas that many interviewees expressed. One of the interviewees, Mr. Kevan, was a retired engineer who seemed satisfied and accomplished in his life. Mr. Kevan was happy to be a part of the project and revealed that the key to his success was the love he had for what he did. As such, his work became his purpose and the driving force in his life. This helped him become a valued worker to his employer. Interestingly, a similar approach failed to work for Mrs. Ann, an old woman who felt that she had spent too much time working to become rich. Unlike, Mr. Kevan, Mrs. Ann had made her career her purpose in life, but was unable to draw the same satisfaction and sense of fulfillment as the old man. This indicated that even with a purpose, there is still a need to consider other issues that do not relate to your life’s focus.

The importance of having a healthy diet is another issue that the interviewers revealed, which resonated with the factors from the blue zones. The researchers from the blue zones revealed that having a healthy diet was one of the most significant contributors to the quality of a person’s life. Mr. Kevan, the retired engineer, raised the same issue in his interview when he relayed that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Contrastingly, Mr. Bill, a dipsomaniac, demonstrated how bad consumption habits could affect a person’s life Apart from looking aged and fatigued, Mr. Bill also had to live with the feeling of having wasted his life. The negative outlook he had for his past indicated how much a poor diet or addiction could reduce the quality of a person’s life.

The last common factor between the findings from the blue zones and the issues that the interviewees raised concerns the value of family in life. The researchers from the blue zones found that family was one of the most important aspects of a person’s life. Many of the centenarians in the blue zones had placed deep value in their families and this improved the quality of their lives. A similar issue is seen with the second interviewee, Mrs. Marry. Unlike the other interviewees, Mrs. Marry was the only one who had placed her focus on her family and this seemed to have a positive impact on her life. According to her neighbors, she always seemed to be happy along with her large family. Contrastingly, Mrs. Ann, who focused on her career instead, felt that her life was unfulfilled. This dissatisfaction could be related to the lack of close family relations within her life.

Leaving a Legacy

Leaving behind a legacy appears to be another important issue that people think about when they age. In an interview with Capture your Flag founder, Erik Michielsen, Simon Sinek explains that it is important for people to focus on the legacy that they want to leave behind when they die. Doing so can give a person’s life more purpose and direction. One strategy that Sinek reveals is that of counting your age backwards by using estimations of your life expectancy to indicate how much longer you expect to live (Michielsen, 2009). Having such a target to aim for can help a person live a purposeful life and avoid a situation such as the one Mr. Bill was in. A dipsomaniac, Mr. Bill revealed that he has spent most of his life failing to accomplish important targets such as graduating. Looking back on his life, he would like to change this but he admits that there is no time for him to change his ways. With Sinek’s countdown system, Mr. Bill could have avoided such as situation and focused on issues that are more important in his life.

While Mr. Bill’s situation reveals the problems of living a life without having goals, Mrs. Ann’s shows another way in which a person can fail to leave behind a strong legacy. People can leave behind strong legacies by helping others in need (Giving is the best communication – Touching story of Dr. Prajak Arunthong, 2009). This creates a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in a person’s life (Segal, Gerdes & Steiner, 2009). Creating a sense of fulfillment in your life by helping others is better than focusing solely on your career as Mrs. Ann did. This is because the benefit from the activities is mutual.

Part 3: Reflection

My interviews with senior citizens and subsequent analysis using course material revealed several key issues concerning life and legacies. One of the issues that I discovered is that there is no single template or blueprint for living a successful life. The research conducted in the blue zones revealed a number of key factors that appeared to play a role in determining the fulfillment of a person’s life. These issues covered a wide spectrum that included diet, physical activity, social involvement, religious beliefs, and career. However, interviews with the senior citizens showed me that the issue might not be the same for everyone. Through the interviews, I learnt that different people have different targets in their lives and achieving these goals is an important determinant of their satisfaction. For instance, Mr. Kevan spoke a lot about his career in his interview but said little about his family. This implied that family was not such a crucial factor for him but that did not seem to make him feel any less satisfied. Similarly, some of the dietary factors that the researchers explained from the blue zones did not seem to have that much of an effect on people’s lives. For instance, Mrs. Marry was not a regular consumer of alcoholic drinks but that did not seem to affect her as much as the study implied.

Based on these interviews and my analysis of course material, I believe that the achievement of life goals is the single most important factor determining a person’s satisfaction with the life he or she lived and legacy that he or she left. People who achieve the targets that they set for themselves when they were young generally appear to be much happier. However, this also depends on the specific targets. Many of the people that appear dissatisfied with their lives place their focus on material goods, without catering for other issues that concern the social, physiological and spiritual dimensions of life. Accordingly, I think it is important for people to seek balance in their lives by paying attention to needs in various areas. Doing so would increase their satisfaction and help them leave behind worthy legacies.



Buettner, D. (2014a). Reverse engineering longevity. Retrieved from http://www.bluezones.com/2014/04/power-9/.

Buettner, D. (2014b). The blue zones: Lessons for living longer from the people who’ve lived the longest. Washington, D.C: National Geographic Society.

Giving is the best communication – Touching story of Dr. Prajak Arunthong [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mDtH0EOJQE.

Michielsen, E. (2009). Simon Sinek on how to set life goals to leave a personal legacy on society (Chapter 9). Capture Your Flag 2009. Podcast retrieved from http://www.captureyourflag.com/interview-library/how-to-set-life-goals-to-leave-a-personal-legacy-to-society.html.

Segal, E. A., Gerdes, K. E., & Steiner, S. (2009). An introduction to the profession of social work: Becoming a change agent. Belmont, Calif: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.

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