By Greg Thurston
Creator of 7 Minute Mindfulness
Watching videos of centurions, you start to see a theme: they seem content.
That might be shocking to younger people, especially anyone who fears old age. Maybe we fear missing out on opportunities in life, and worry that we’ll find ourselves too old to do things.
But we have many interviews of people 100 and older, and they love to share about their lives and offer advice to the rest of us.
Dr. Mercola (of the Mercola Video Library) interviewed three centurions for this very information, and many other people have as well.
Quite a few of us (more now than ever) have relatives or know someone who is 100 or over.
One lady I know who is 104 is full of sassy attitude and enjoys talking to people.
From this wealth of information, we can form the following ten lessons.
1. Happiness comes from what we do
At 100 years old, or older, people don’t seem to sit around and smile about the things they accumulated in life.
Rather, it’s more about their life experiences. Happy memories can go a long ways toward happiness later on!
One man over 100 years old said he did all he wanted to do. Now he wants to be helpful and keep going.
“I have so many beautiful memories,” said a woman over 100. “I got to do all the things I wanted to.”
That tells us to jump in and live life – remember that it’s about really living and making memories with people we love.
Science backs this up as well. We know people derive more happiness that is long-term from experiences such as vacations rather than from possessions.
2. Happiness comes from a positive attitude and optimism
People over 100 seem to remember life through rose tinted glasses, making it sound like an adventure even through hard times, like war.
“I’ve always been lucky,” says one centurion despite living through 2 great wars!
She also talked about how “everything makes me happy. I love talking to people… going shopping.”
Common advice from people who are doing well at 100 is to “Decide to be content.” Others say, “Don’t chase happiness. Just be satisfied.”
Deciding life is good changes our perception and makes life better, and apparently it helps you live much longer!
3. Happiness comes from living in the NOW
Age is only a number. You live for the day and keep going.
This is wisdom from someone with a very long past-but they enjoy the present.
The past is the past; we can’t change it. But we can rob ourselves of our present happiness and good emotional health by hanging onto old regrets, grudges, and pain.
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4. Love and Partnership is critical for long life
Centurions often talk about their “good” marriage, all their happy memories, and all their good times together. It’s another area where they might be applying rose-tinted glasses, but it’s apparent that they got emotional support and felt like they have a life partner.
They also say that people today give up too easily these days-so there was hard work involved, but at the end of their life that part isn’t really important anymore.
“Being happily married and happy in general is the remedy for all illness.”
We don’t have studies on how marriage or long-term relationships affect life span, but you don’t have to be a scientist to take note: centurions all speak about their decades long marriage with a smile on their face.
Even people who have been widowed for a few decades say they have many, many warm memories about their married life, and that still makes them happy.
5. Eat natural, real food to feel good and live long
Many people who are 100 say they feel strong and like they’re 69 or 79. These are the people who stay active physically and mentally, and have a lot to share with other people.
Many people over 100 talk about eating fresh food that they grew themselves.
And older people will tell you over and over: eat in moderation!
6. Learn to adapt for a better and longer life
“Life goes on regardless” is a common theme. People who live well into old age understand that there is hardship in life but they know life goes on and they must too.
If you live 7, 8, 9, 10 or more decades, you’re going to see a lot of change.
People who adapt and change with the times do better. It’s part of having a positive attitude-they’re excited for new opportunities instead of fearing change.
7. Help others
Helping others is one way to build relationships and connections, and it makes you feel great.
It’s another common theme among people who live to be over 100.
Being kind and helping others gives you a sense of purpose too, and it fights depression and anxiety. Not only that, it’s a way of staying active and productive after you retire.
It’s a win-win for everyone involved, and being older and retired can mean having more time for volunteering.
8. Always learn!
Older people will advise to get a good education to help you go far in life, and science has shown that people with a Bachelor’s degree actually do live about a decade longer than people who don’t have one. (From the U.S. Centers for Disease an Control Prevention)
Older people will tell you to keep learning all through life, both in and out of school.
Be curious-it makes life more interesting and fun. And it helps you stay engaged with life and the changing technology and times. That helps you adapt too.
9. Practice Mindfulness
People over 100 tend to live in the moment as it comes, rather than worrying about plans, regrets, and getting caught up in pressure and worry.
They cherish special time with family and friends, the colors and smell of a new flower in spring, or the feel of the grass on their feet.
When life is enjoyed in the moment, it’s just better…
…And people who live in the moment more tend to live longer, happier lives!
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Actively practicing mindfulness is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
When we disconnect from the mental chatter (the past, future, worry, expectations and judgements), we are able to approach life with greater perspective – we tend to see the opportunities, instead of carrying around the weight of worry and mental baggage.
There’s a wealth of research on the long term and short term health benefits of mindfulness, including boosting your immune system, Preventing cellular aging, and reducing the likelihood of age-related diseases. (UCLA)
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