Centenarians, we know they exist, we may personally have met one in our own lifetime, but what is it that gives them the drive to thrive for 100 years or more? Could it be a lack of anxiety or a healthy diet? Perhaps it’s the exercise, or relationships that keep them going. Maybe it’s the power of having a purpose on the earth that continues into their golden years. Many studies have been done though out the ages seeking answers to what make some people live healthy vibrant lives to 100 and beyond.
Deepak Chopra shares about the Dunbar Study. The results revealed several traits common among those who lived happy lives into their later years.
A – They were not thrown off by changes that came their way, but rather embraced the change and navigated it with a positive and creative flair.
B – They cooperated with transitions and did not indulge in anxiety.
C – They learned how to improvise and not resist what was happening in their lives.
D – They were able to develop new activities, attitudes and adventures for themselves.
E – They wished to carry on, make a difference and live long.
These five steps could easily be used by all of us no matter the age. And I am sure there are those who have lived long and never followed one of these ideas.
Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones traveled the world seeking out the answers to what allows some individuals a life well lived into their hundreds! He interviewed some that had hit 115 years old and beyond! One of the elements he found was that the centenarians had a sense of purpose. They felt needed and they believed what they had to contribute to their family and community was valuable. It did not matter if it was daily prayer, gardening or cooking a meal, they embraced their talents and gave daily. Rather than focusing on their limitations, they looked for things they could do!
Another pattern for centenarians was a daily time of socializing. For some it was a gathering of friends (mostly younger) who would join them for tea and conversation. For others it was a daily sake ritual or wine shared at a table with family. They interacted with all generations spanning from great great grandchildren to their own children, who were now in their 80’s! Conversation, love and laughter was key to keeping the elders engaged and feeling like they had an important role to play.
Meals were not extravagant, but healthy foods shared with others was preferred over eating alone. Some adopted the philosophy of eating only until they felt 80% full. The idea is that the brain is about 20 minutes behind the stomach. So, if we stop eating when we are 80% full, our brain will catch up and realize we really are satisfied and do not need to over eat. Some live by the phrase: “100 steps – 100 years”. This inspires families to walk together after dinner. The exercise aids in digestion and guards against getting sedentary which can be a temptation after the evening meal.
Those who have gone before and lived life to the fullest usually have sage advice. It would behoove us to listen to their perspective, for many have persevered through tragedy and turmoil we can’t even imagine. One such film depicts the stories from 40 different people who willingly share their heart breaks, humor and life lessons. Maybe we should be looking at every senior as one to be honored and embraced. We never know what they have come through in order to be standing here before us today.
Lives Well Lived is a delightful documentary celebrating the secrets, wit and wisdom of age. You may view the trailer HERE: https://youtu.be/Ev4d-ZBNBaU