Top 9 Life Lessons From Centenarians

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The following is a guest post by Greg Thurston, creator of (ad) 7 Minute Mindfulness

Watching videos of centenarians, you start to see a theme… they seem content.

That might be shocking to younger people, especially anyone who fears old age. Maybe we fear missing out on opportunities in life and worry that we’ll find ourselves too old to do things.

Yet we can easily access many interviews of people 100 or older who love to share about their lives and offer advice to the rest of us.

Dr. J. Mercola (of the Mercola Health video library) interviewed three centenarians for this very information and many other people have, as well.

Forward Steps Personal Development Collection ImageQuite a few of us (more now than ever) have relatives or know someone, who is 100 or over.

From this wealth of information, we can extrapolate the following nine lessons.

1. Happiness comes from what we do

At 100 years old, or older, people don’t seem to sit around and smile about the things they accumulated in life.

Rather, it’s more about their life experiences. Happy memories can go a long ways toward happiness later on!

One man over 100 years old said he did all he wanted to do. Now he wants to be helpful and keep going.

“I have so many beautiful memories,” said a woman over 100. “I got to do all the things I wanted to.”

That tells us to jump in and live life, remember that it’s about really living and making memories with people we love.

Science backs this up as well. We know people derive more happiness that is long-term from experiences such as vacations rather than from possessions.

2. Happiness comes from a positive attitude & optimism

Lessons From Centenarians - Forward Steps quote 1500pxPeople over 100 seem to remember life through rose tinted glasses, making it sound like an adventure even through hard times, like war.

“I’ve always been lucky”, says one centenarian despite living through 2 great wars!

She also talked about how “everything makes me happy. I love talking to people… going shopping”.

Common advice from people who are doing well at 100 is to “Decide to be content”. Others say, “Don’t chase happiness. Just be satisfied”.

Deciding life is good changes our perception and makes life better and, apparently, it helps you live much longer!

3. Happiness comes from living in the now

Age is only a number. You live for the day and keep going.

This is wisdom from someone with a very long past-but they enjoy the present.

The past is the past; we can’t change it. Yet we can rob ourselves of our present happiness and good emotional health by hanging onto old regrets, grudges and pain.

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The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been. -Madeleine L'Engle Share on X

4. Love and partnership is critical for long life

Centenarians often talk about their “good” marriage, all their happy memories, and all their good times together. It’s another area where they might be applying rose-tinted glasses, however it’s apparent that they got emotional support and felt like they have a life partner.

They also say that people today give up too easily these days so there was hard work involved, yet at the end of their life that part isn’t really important anymore.

“Being happily married and happy in general is the remedy for all illness”.

We don’t have studies on how marriage or long-term relationships affect life span, however you don’t have to be a scientist to take note. Centenarians all speak about their decades long marriage with a smile on their face.

Even people who have been widowed for a few decades say they have many, many warm memories about their married life, and that still makes them happy.

5. Eat natural, real food to feel good and live long

Lessons From Centenarians - Forward Steps quote 1500px_2Many people who are 100 say they feel strong and like they’re 69 or 79. These are the people who stay active physically and mentally and have a lot to share with other people.

Many people over 100 talk about eating fresh food that they grew themselves. Older people will also tell you, over and over, eat in moderation!

6. Learn to adapt for a better and longer life

“Life goes on regardless”, is a common theme. People who live well into old age understand that there is hardship in life however they know life goes on and they must too.

If you live 7, 8, 9, 10 or more decades, you’re going to see a lot of change.

People who adapt and change with the times do better. It’s part of having a positive attitude-they’re excited for new opportunities instead of fearing change.

7. Help others

Helping others is one way to build relationships and connections, and it makes you feel great.

It’s another common theme among people who live to be over 100.

Being kind and helping others gives you a sense of purpose too, and it fights depression and anxiety. Not only that, it’s a way of staying active and productive after you retire.

There are things I need to tell you, but would you listen if I told you how quickly time passes? -Meg Rosoff Share on X

Retiring can mean having more time for volunteering.

8. Always learn!

Older people will advise to get a good education to help you go far in life and science has shown that people with a Bachelor’s degree actually do live about a decade longer than people who don’t have one (according to the CDC Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)

Older people will tell you to keep learning all through life, both in and out of school.

Remaining curious makes life more interesting and fun. It helps you stay engaged with life plus the changing technology and times. That helps you adapt too.

9. Practice mindfulness

People over 100 tend to live in the moment as it comes, rather than worrying about plans, regrets and getting caught up in pressure and worry.

Lessons From Centenarians - Forward Steps quote 1500px_3They cherish special time with family and friends, the colors and smell of a new flower in spring or the feel of the grass on their feet.

When life is enjoyed in the moment, it’s just better and people who live in the moment more tend to live longer, happier lives!

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Actively practicing mindfulness is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

When we disconnect from the mental chatter (the past, future, worry, expectations and judgements), we are able to approach life with greater perspective – we tend to see the opportunities, instead of carrying around the weight of worry and mental baggage.

There’s a wealth of research on the long term and short term health benefits of mindfulness, including boosting your immune system, Preventing cellular aging, and reducing the likelihood of age-related diseases. (UCLA)

If you’d like disconnect from the mental chatter and don’t have time for long drawn out meditation, then (ad) try 7 Minute Mindfulness

In just 7 minutes you can release the stress that builds up, wipe away the mental chatter, and relax your mind and body… so you can enjoy a long and prosperous life!

PLUS check out these free gifts from friends…CHECK out the following great resources as well…Forward Steps Personal Development ยป Top 9 Life Lessons From Centenarians

Hi, I'm Thea Westra at Forward Steps (

Hi, I'm Thea Westra at Forward Steps (

Since March 2003, I've been sharing practical, positive, thought provoking and inspiring self improvement content online. My aim is simple - to offer tips and resources that help us enhance our daily experience of life and to keep stepping forward. Perth, Western Australia is the place I call home and I'm the author of "Time For My Life: 365 Stepping Stones". You might also know me from the Forward Steps personal development blog and the daily series of "365 Forward Steps Notes", all designed to add wings to our unique life journeys.

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