A Mediterranean Lifestyle: The Secret to Happiness, Health, and Longevity

An Appreciation for the Simple Pleasures

There’s something that I’ve come to understand about the Mediterranean lifestyle and the diet that grows out of it: That an appreciation for the simple pleasures of life are essential to happiness, health and ultimately, longevity.

I’ve only been in Crete for a week and I feel profoundly affected by the landscape, the people and the cuisine. Although this is my first adventure beyond the borders of the U.S.A., I can sense that what I’m experiencing is not unique to this place. It’s just that they’ve been doing it here for so long that it is infused into everything. The roots of culture are thick and reach back thousands of years to a time when simplicity was all that there was. It wasn’t a “way of life,” back then, it was the only way.

My Experience in Crete

I think that it becomes more apparent when you consider the effects of living on an island like Crete. Because you are somewhat removed from easy access to and influence of society at large, you learn how to be more self-reliant. You learn to go without. You work hard and work with what you have. You learn to wait. You develop intimate knowledge of the land and the community that sustain you and you understand your place among your friends, family and the natural world.

The Effects of Living on an Island Like Crete

It’s quite unlike a life where you get and expect everything at the press of a button, where you are enabled to feel like you don’t need anyone else and that convenience your compass for contentment. In the end, all that we call progress in the Western world leads to disconnection and dysfunction.

The Metaphor of Diet

All of this can be seen through the metaphor of diet, and that is why the Mediterranean Diet works. As we guide ourselves back to a simpler list of ingredients in what we eat, we begin to appreciate those ingredients more. As we learn to do with less of things like meat on our plate, we have more respect for what it means to eat another animal. As we take time to celebrate and share what we have with others, we develop the connections that support us. As we choose more fresh and local items to feed ourselves, we feel the link between who we are and where we live.