What is the secret to long life?
My friend is celebrating a birthday today. She is 103.
What is her secret? I can’t say for sure, but I suspect it might have something to do with joy and gratitude.
Three years ago, at the time of her 100th birthday, she wrote down some of her memories to give as a gift to her children. (It was her birthday, and she was the one giving gifts.) She asked me to prepare the printed manuscript of the stories, so I received the lucky task of transcribing her memories from handwriting to computer.
At the age of 100 her handwriting had not deteriorated; I could read every word clearly. They taught penmanship in school in her youth.
Often, in the telling of a tale, she wrote, “That puts me in mind of a poem.” The poems followed, word-for-word perfect, as remembered from her school years 80 or 90 years earlier. When I searched the poems on Google, I discovered that, not only was every word perfect, she laid out the poems on the page exactly as the authors had decades ago, and every punctuation mark was in place. They did memory work in school in her youth.
But what I noticed most about her writing was this: joy and gratitude on every page. Story after story ended with, “How fortunate I am!” Or, “Why is everyone so good to me?” They taught humility and gratitude in school in her youth.
The formative years of her life involved World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II, and yet her memories overflow with joy and gratitude.
Are joy and gratitude the secrets to long life?
I can’t say for sure, but they make the time that we’re here—however long it might be—a lot more enjoyable.