Advice from 100-year-olds

15 November 2017 - Inspiration

Time is perhaps life’s greatest teacher. “We pass through the present with our eyes blindfolded,” writes Milan Kundera in Laughable Loves. “We are permitted merely to sense and guess at what we are actually experiencing. Only later when the cloth is untied can we glance at the past and find out what we have experienced and what meaning it has.”

So why not look to the people who’ve lived long enough to know what meaning life holds and how to find it? We’ve compiled a list of our favourite pieces of wisdom from centenarians about everything from love and happiness to health and work. We all go through different journeys and have to learn in our own time and ways, but it’s never too early to gain some useful perspective about life.

On laughter and positivity:

Laughter keeps you healthy. You can survive by seeing the humour in everything. Thumb your nose at sadness; turn the tables on tragedy. You can’t laugh and be angry, you can’t laugh and feel sad, you can’t laugh and feel envious.”

“If you’re positive you can get through it OK. When you think negatively, you’re putting poison on your body. Just smile. They say laughter is the best medicine there is.”

On work and responsibility:

“Never run out of responsibility; if you don’t have one, find one. Find a cause and knock yourself out for it. It will enhance your brainpower, interest in life and keep you alive longer. I’m alert because I work. Virtue is its own reward.”

“Seek freedom and opportunity rather than a job and security.”

“There should be no need to retire if you have pursued the right career. However, if it is necessary, do it after the age of 70.”

On success:

“A healthy lifestyle keeps you going. Your body should be your vehicle for success.”

On material things:

“Don’t go crazy about amassing material things. Remember: you don’t know when your number is up, and you can’t take it with you to the next place.”

On love and relationships:

“Always listen to the other person. You’ll learn something. Try to sit back, because you will learn a lot more listening to others than telling them what you know.”

“Fall in love as much as you can. It is difficult to simply give up on it. How many other things are as formidable as love, that you can hold onto?”

“Your relationships are vital to who you will become. Learn to develop the right relationships.”

“Marry for love. That is the only sensible thing that could keep two different people together.”

“You are going to meet a lot of people and some of them will be totally opposite to who you are. You cannot avoid everyone, so learn to be tolerant.”

“Have a good wife, lots of friends, a good appetite, and be busy.”

Love does not break your heart, the other crap that gets in the way does.”

“Learn to adapt.”

Communicate, speak with your parents. And take their advice, too. Or at least consider it, you don’t always have to follow it. But certainly don’t throw it out of the window. Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted and be as independent as you can be, but don’t be reluctant to ask for help when you think you need it.”

“A good idea is to behave well to other people, show them respect. And help them as much as you possibly can, and it will be repaid hundredfold.”

On longevity:

“Be lovable. I’ve lived a long life because there are so many people who love me.”

“Be active. It keeps you alive. What is not used, rots away.”

“Do something interesting every day; otherwise you disintegrate.”

Learning new things makes you happy and keeps your mind active.”

On goals:

“My inspiration is Robert Browning’s poem ‘Abt Vogler’. It encourages us to make big art, not small scribbles. It says to try to draw a circle so huge that there is no way we can finish it while we are alive. All we see is an arch; the rest is beyond our vision but it is there in the distance.”

On negativity:

“I don’t like stress. I can’t stand arguing. If anybody is fussing, I’m gone. I like to be around positive people, people who lift you up not bring you down.”

On forgiveness and pain:

Forgive yourself and everyone around you.”

“Even if you feel hatred, keep it to yourself. Don’t hurt other people for any reason.”

“Nobody else controls you.”

“Take time to mourn what you’ve lost.”

On happiness:

“People tend to mistake satisfaction for happiness and happiness for satisfaction. You may not be happy all the time, but you can learn to always be satisfied.”

General advice:

“Take one day at a time and go along for the ride.”

“Keep an open mind, and things seem less strange.”

“It is very important to have a widespread curiosity about life.”

Be yourself. You cannot make it through to my age living another person’s life.”

“Whatever life throws at you, respond to it, and never react to it.”

“Take it easy. Many of my friends are gone because they just wanted it all too early.”

“Invest or learn how to save. You never know what protection these things may provide to you.”

Believe in yourself. Such belief can propel you to unbelievable heights.”

“Concern yourself only with what will really matter in the long run.”

Sources: Forbes, Mental Floss, Thought Catalog, Lifehack, Simplemost, Real Simple