How To Be Resilient: 4 Steps To Success When Life Gets Hard

The World Health Organization says that Icelandic guys are the longest living men on the planet. They make it to 81.2-years-old, beating the world average by 13.2 years. But it’s not because of their lifestyle. Their obesity rates hover around the global average and their activity levels are nothing to write home about. So why the heck do they live so long?

Dr. Kari Stefansson wanted an answer. He ran Harvard’s neurology department before returning to Iceland to study the genetics of his own people. What’s interesting about Iceland is that it’s had near-zero immigration — everyone there is a descendant of the same group of folks who arrived on the island 1100 years ago. So here’s where things get weird…

Because the genetics of Icelanders today don’t resemble their ancestors much at all. Stefansson says, “We found that the DNA from the settlers of Iceland is closer to the DNA of today’s Norwegians and Celts than it is to the DNA of today’s Icelanders.” So what the heck completely transformed these people? Stefansson thinks he has the answer…

Iceland is a horrible place to live.

For most of those thousand-plus years, food was scarce. Winter lasts nine months, sometimes with just four hours of sunlight. There’s precipitation 213 days a year. Life on that island has been so difficult there was zero population growth for centuries.

And that’s their secret. What made Icelandic men the longest lived on the planet. What unrecognizably changed their DNA: discomfort. In Stefansson’s own words:

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