A Centenarian’s Best Advice for Long Life, Good Health, and Happy Kids


Please allow me to introduce you to a very special lady: my Grandma.

According to 2010 U.S. Census data, about 1 in every 5,800 people is a centenarian: a person who is 100+ years old.

Today, I want to congratulate a wonderful, loving woman as she joins that distinguished group: born August 3, 1916, my great grandma, Ruth. (But she’d prefer that you call her Grandma.)

Grandma Photo

Knowing that she must have accumulated much wisdom over her 100 years, I sat down to interview Grandma about her best advice for living a long life, maintaining good health, and raising happy children.

Here are the top 4 takeaways I want to share with you.


1. It’s all about good relationships

My first question for Grandma: “What’s the number one factor that has given you such a long life?”

Grandma: “First of all, long life depends on your mate. Your mate and you have to be ‘like this’ [fingers crossed tightly] at all times, and if there’s any disagreement, settle the disagreement.”

I grew up hearing the saying “Never let the sun set on an argument.” Grandma lives her life by that advice, never letting a disagreement fester. Doing so has reduced her stress and kept her surrounded with positive relationships.

2 days ago, August 1st, was Grandma and Grandpa’s 79th wedding anniversary. Even though my Grandpa passed many years ago, Grandma still cherishes the depth of the close relationship they had. As she would say, she and Grandpa were “like this.”


2. Eat well

Grandma’s next tip: “Try to eat healthy.” She stresses the importance of avoiding fried food, and adds that she has only “one cup of coffee a day, and that’s in the morning. But if the coffee comes in the evening with the meal, I won’t refuse it.” She smiles and laughs, lighting up. “I’ll take it!”

Grandma knows that deprivation is no fun, and enjoys her indulgences – as should we all.


3. Teach your children from the beginning

My next question for Grandma: “What are your tips for raising happy kids?” (Grandma plays a big role in the lives of her 2 children, 4 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren, and 2 great great grandchildren!)

Her response: “Explain things to the children so they will understand why you want them to do certain things and forget about other things… so they’ll understand right from wrong.”

While this would not be my own answer in focusing on raising happy children, Grandma brings up a great point, and I agree.

In making decisions, it is very important to explain the rationale to children so they can make more informed and more mature decisions themselves. This also helps them to understand your perspective as the parent, trying to keep them happy, healthy, and safe. (Instead of thinking you’re the taker-away of all of their fun “because I said so.” Though we all probably thought that about our parents at least once…)

Grandma also says, “They should do what they would want others to do to them. Which is good things, nice things.”

Gotta love the Golden Rule. Did you know that the Golden Rule shows up in the Writings of all the major world religions? (Check it out here.)

Speaking further about children and their education, Grandma shares, “Teach the young ones from their youth. Don’t try to start teaching them when they’re 5, 6, 7 years old, or 16. Start from the beginning.”

I particularly love this quote from the Baha’i writings which reinforces the importance of education, and supports beginning that education from infancy:

“…education is the indispensable foundation of all human excellence and alloweth man to work his way to the heights of abiding glory. If a child be trained from his infancy, he will, through the loving care of the Holy Gardener, drink in the crystal waters of the spirit and of knowledge, like a young tree amid the rilling brooks. And certainly he will gather to himself the bright rays of the Sun of Truth, and through its light and heat will grow ever fresh and fair in the garden of life.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha)

Who doesn’t want to be “fresh and fair in the garden of life,” even if we are speaking in metaphor?!


4. Keep it positive

Last, Grandma underlines the importance of a positive attitude: “Smile. Look at the bright side of things. There are some things that are not bright, but you have to try to brighten them.”

Look for the silver lining, and when one door closes, look for a window. These are often opportunities in disguise.

And there you have it – make peace in your relationships, eat well, and teach your children from the beginning. I hope you enjoyed this enlightened wisdom from Grandma to all of us younglings.

Happy 100th Birthday, Grandma!

What would you add to her list?

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