To live to 100 years old is quite amazing and an accomplishment in and of itself. What’s the secret to getting there and more importantly, doing it well? I’ve come across many different answers to this question the last few years through exploring books, articles and interviews and, although sometimes centenarians will swear lots of dark chocolate, bacon or red wine is the key to longevity, most say something along the general lines of good food, keeping active and keeping a positive attitude are the keys to long, good life.
Sitting next to my grandma on the eve on her 100th birthday, I asked her the question that many people have asked her over the years and several of my clients asked me over the last couple weeks as I told them I was going to visit my grandma for her 100 year celebration…
“What’s the secret to living to 100?”
She chuckled and in her unassuming way said, “oh I don’t know…” and then after a few seconds said, “…you know, I don’t think there is a secret. People ask me that but I really don’t think there is one.”
I smiled and nodded my head in acknowledgement. I was thinking she would tell me the secret to long life was eating good chocolate truffles (which I know she loves), watching Laurence Welk and old movies or something else kind of clever and specific but she had a much more poignant answer. I’ve spent the last several years on a journey to figure out the best way to be healthy and, in a sense, that’s the question I’ve been trying to answer. The funny thing is that the more I look into it the more I understand where she’s coming from.
“You know grandma, I think you’re right. I don’t think there’s a secret to it either.”
She smiled. “I guess you just try to live the right way… and have good genes.”
“That sounds pretty good to me Grandma.”
“You know… my sister didn’t really think that way. Her and her husband did those things that make you feel good. Smoking, drinking and going out to eat all the time. I don’t think that was very good for her.”
“Yeah, probably not.”
“I just think it’s better to not do those things.”
“Well maybe that’s your secret then. Try to live well and not do the bad things, and hope for good genes.”
She chuckled again, “I guess maybe that’s it.”
With that our dinner arrived and the conversation moved on. Maybe a few years ago she would have given me a different answer that included truffles and Turner Classic Movies but tonight, on the eve of becoming a centenarian, she probably gave me the best answer I could have asked for. People often search for the magic behavior or philosophy that will lead them to long life but in the end I think it boils down to a simple paradigm. Try to live well, avoid the bad stuff and hope you have good genes.
Here’s to my sweet and wonderful grandma, her long life and her good genes. She says I’ve got them so I guess my job from here is to live life well and avoid the bad stuff so in 64 years I can share my 100 year wisdom with one of my curious grandchildren.