A few years back, while writing the book Age to Perfection: How to Thrive to 100, Happy, Healthy, and Wise, I had the chance to sit down with several people who had lived past their 100th birthday. Much of what they said was similar, as if it were scripted. Common sense that we seem to have forgotten over the years.
While my new friends may not have understood the science behind their advice, they knew from personal experience that it was all true. Living a long life isn’t that hard, but it takes discipline. Here’s a bit of what they all seemed to agree upon:
Never Stop Moving
They all seemed to find a way to keep moving. One of them still had a gym membership, while others were sure to go for at least one long walk a day. In addition to staying fit and limber, research shows that exercise is just as effective and anti-depressants when it comes to mood stabilization. Maybe this is why they were all fit, and happy too.
Find Something to Believe In
There was no certain religion that outshined the others among those I interviewed, yet they all had a strong and healthy relationship with faith. That faith, they told me, got them through some of the hardest times of their lives. With the invention of function MRI, we now know that prayer lights up a particular part of the brain that lays dormant at other times.
Be a Mindful Eater
For most of their lives, these people lived in times where food was less abundant than it is now. Eating was more for necessity than it was for pleasure. I can still here Lucille telling me the advice her aunt gave her back in 1925, “You can have butter or jam on your biscuit, but never both. People who double dip end up double their size.” Sound advice that was long before the obesity crisis we face today.
Spend Time with Family
Each one of the people I interviewed felt strongly about relationships with friends and especially family. As human beings, we are social creatures, and love and understanding feeds our souls. Recent studies have proven how important it is to bond with both the generation before you and after you. It’s also been proven that social media is no replacement for face-to-face bonding.
There was certainly a common theme among them that could be seen and felt. They were kind, gentle souls, but a few admitted that they had to learn how to be that way. Sooner or later, life has a way of buffering the rough edges on all of us. A study a few years back showed that those who share a genuine smile with others, have a better chance of living the longest.
Of all the people I spent time with, Lucille Fleming touched my heart the most. She and I eventually went on a book tour together and she took on a new role in life and a new title: longevity expert. It goes to show that it’s never too late to find purpose or reinvent yourself.
More Insights: Check out this insightful article on dealing with inflammation as we age.
Author: Judy Gaman is the CEO of Executive Medicine of Texas and an award-winning author and speaker. Her latest book is “Love, Life, and Lucille: Lessons Learned from a Centenarian.” Learn more here. Get a free copy of Judy’s book Age to Perfection.