How to live to be a hundred

     For adults who remain vivaciously childlike in old age, there has to be a sustained enthusiasm for some aspect of life. If they are forcibly retired they should immerse themselves in some new, absorbing activity.

     Some people are naturally more physically active than others, and are at a considerable advantage providing their activities are not the result of stress. The more earnest aging exercisers display a conscious or unconscious anxiety about their health. If they take exercise too seriously it will work against them. Older individuals who take up intensive athletic activity are usually people who fear declining health. Yet it is crucial that physical exercise, as we grow past the young sportsman stage, should be extensive rather than intensive and, above all, fun. 

     A calm temperament favors longevity. Those who are sharply aggressive, emotionally explosive or naggingly anxious are at a grave disadvantage. Relaxation does not contradict the ides of passionate interest. Indeed, zest for living, eagerness to pursue chosen subjects are vital in long life. 

     Thinking about 'the good old days', complaining about how the world is deteriorating, criticizing the younger generations, are sure signs of an early funeral.

     Being successful is a great life-stretcher, and can even override such life-shorteners as obesity and fondness for drink. And success must always be measured in personal terms. A hill-shephered may feel just as successful in his own way as a Nobel Laureate. 

     Long-lived individuals seem to be more concerned with what they do than who they are. They live outside themselves rather than dwelling on their own personalities. 

     In personal habits, the long-lived are generally moderate. Extremes of diet are not common. A mixed diet seems to favor longevity. Many long-lived individuals enjoy nicotine and alcohol-in moderation. 

     Most long-lived people have a sense of self-discipline. The man who lives long because he walks a mile a day does so because he does it every day, as part of an organized existence.    

     Over and over, during my researches, it emerged that long life goes with a 'twinkle in the eye'. The sour-faced puritan and the solemn bore soon begin to lose ground, leaving their more amused contemporaries to enjoy the last laugh. 

     Finally, nothing is to be gained by a head-in-the-sand avoidance of the facts of life and death. The healthiest solution is to accept that one's span on Earth is limited and then to live every day, in the present, and to the full.