A new study by The Lancet, the world’s leading medical journal, finds that during the reign of Michael Bloomberg, New Yorkers tacked an extra 10 years on to their life expectancy when compared to the rest of the nation. That means the average American life expectancy of 78 years is rising faster in New York City than anywhere else in the United States. Yet Canada has a 3.7% higher life expectancy than the US. In Sardinia and Okinawa that number jumps to the high 90s while in India average life expectancy is only 63.

All over the world the numbers are different – even between Zip codes. A recent World Health Organization report revealed life expectancy for a male child born in Glasgow’s deprived east end as just 54, while men born just 8 miles away in the affluent village of Lenzie will live an average of 82 years. Residents of London’s well-heeled Knightsbridge can expect to live to 92 while those living less than two miles away near Edgware Road will only reach 72. Why is it that groups of people living virtually side by side can have such different life expectancies?

Governments blame diet, exercise, crime, poor lifestyle habits and poverty for the difference. Science focuses most of its theories on genetics and physical lifestyle habits like regular exercise, a balanced diet, smoking, alcohol abuse and education. The media and pop culture make pots of money by following sciences lead. But there’s an overwhelming body of evidence that points to other factors. For example, people who actively connect face-to-face live longer than those who don’t. People in control of their lives live longer than those who leave control to “powerful others” and to luck. People with passion, projects and purpose in their lives signal their bodies to grow and flourish. People without these 3 elements, unwittingly signal their bodies to decay and eventually perish.