Or maybe it just seems that way with all of the hours we spend in traffic and all of the taxes we pay. Or maybe it's that despite some obvious annoyances, life is pretty good here.

We have four pretty full and even seasons. It never gets too endlessly hot in summer like Florida or Texas, or too endlessly cold like Minnesota or New Hampshire.

We have all of the cultural advantages that being surrounded by two of the largest cities in the country and a 120-mile coastline with endless opportunities for recreation and relaxation.

More importantly we have something that can't be found on a map or climate chart. We have close-knit families, by and large, that are the key to longer healthier lives.

According to a recent survey, New Jersey is tied for 8th place among states with the longest life expectancy. The average age for a person from New Jersey is 80.4 years.

Two of my grandparents lived into their 90s and one reached 100. The other died prematurely of unnatural causes. My dad lived 'til 90 and mom is going strong in her 90th year. The one thing they have in common was strong family bonds and constant family interaction. We are blessed to come from families that are close-knit and caring.

People on the island of Sardinia have been studied as a group of people in a "blue zone." Those are areas on the globe where the life expectancy is higher than most. Is it the diet, the isolated population the Mediterranean climate? One of the key factors seems to be human connection with community and family. Maybe that is why people here in New Jersey live longer. Or maybe it is that it just seems that way.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy. Any opinions expressed are Dennis's own.

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