My 92-year-old grandfather has been diagnosed with two types of cancer. He’s been through the wringer, but he hasn’t given up his passion for soccer. I’ve had one life, and I’m not going to waste it worrying about how many more lives I’ll have. I’m going to enjoy this one, and worry about the next later.
Yet today. he is physically and emotionally healthy. He walks several miles every morning, cooks multi-course meals for family and guests — his mind clear, his vision sharp, and his generous heart beating strong.
My family is the reason why I know how to live longer than others my age and still maintain eternally youthful skin. The secrets I’ve learned will help you live longer, as well. And some of the ones you already have will not be what you think:
1. Maintain regular habits
My grandfather is someone who has been making it a regular habit for a long time to wake up at 5am and walk more than 6,000 steps before going home to cook breakfast. He takes a nap for about an hour between 1–2 pm and goes to bed shortly after 9pm.
You don’t need to do this exact sleep/exercise schedule, but find one that works for you and mold the rest of your life around it. Then, stick to it. Your best business partner doesn’t get paid for 10-15 years, but instead is someone who will be with you every single day, and will share in your success and failures for the next 45-50 years.
When the storms of life hit, you’ll have something familiar to hold on to without thinking too hard. Something to help you get back on the right track.
2. Eat whatever you want
It sounds great in theory, but you really need to eat real food first and then only have small amounts after that. If you eat too much processed food before eating good food, it will be harder to lose weight and keep it off.
The Japanese have a very interesting concept called “hara hachi bun me,” meaning: “eat until you are about 80% full, and then stop. If Japan has a Blue Zone, then you know they must have some superfoods that will keep you healthy for a long time. Let me teach you how to prepare and enjoy these delicious foods.
Caloric restriction helps monkeys (and probably humans) to live longer and delay aging, and studies show it appears to prevent a variety of age-related diseases. It’s a healthy lifestyle for everyone.
This book will teach you to eat in a similar way. You’ll discover that there is good nutrition available without spending hundreds of dollars or spending more than five minutes in the grocery store.
For the older generations, a nutritious diet is a balanced one that contains plenty of vitamins and minerals, especially from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You can also add a little bit of protein from nuts, beans, fish, poultry, and eggs.
You’ll find no restrictions to good food. They do not make any claims that they will only allow you to eat good foods. They just won’t judge you for eating what you want.
You should do as my mother says and stay out of situations that cause stress. Overly restrictive rules can actually create negative stress, and too much negative stress can have a bad impact on your physical and mental health.
Don’t worry about the rest, whether it’s counting calories or measuring the fat content of every morsel of food you eat. As you begin to eat healthier, your cravings for unhealthy foods will naturally go down.
3. Stay curious
My grandmother, who died a few days before her 90th birthday, was always eager to learn. A woman who only attended an elementary school in Mexico and speaks three languages is fluent and is reading anatomical books for fun.
My mother’s daughter, my mother, has changed careers several times. Instead of feeling resentful about not getting to be a doctor, my mother embraced the challenge, learning a new career from scratch, and became quite successful. My mother’s lessons about the importance of maintaining a childlike curiosity and love of learning, she passed them on to me.
My mother is a wonderful role model, for her strength and dedication to her health. She’s taught me to keep myself curious and to learn. In turn, I’m determined to make sure that I stay physically and mentally healthy and that I am always learning something new.
What’s next on your list? Cello, piano, and comic drawing. If you want to paint like Grandma Moses, don’t do it just because it sounds fun, but because it’s right for your style and skills.
4. Take care of someone else
It’s not a good idea to think about your funeral before you have your first funeral. Before my grandmother passed away, she suffered from severe dementia and needed assistance with all of her basic needs.
I was born a man but my mother raised me like a woman. She cooked for me, fed me, and kept watch at night in case I woke up in the middle of the night. My grandpa was exhausted by the time he got home from work, but it didn’t stop him from staying healthy.
In fact, he fell sick with serious internal bleeding. After his accident, he realized that he had to work harder to improve his game in order to help others. And his sense of purpose and desire to get better meant that he recovered from his injury quickly.
My grandmother does the cooking every day for the family. No one else in the family dares to touch her recipes. He is a master chef, and his dishes are always so delicious and beautiful.
She’s not as demonstrative as her husband, but she does demonstrate her love through her cooking. Living a long, healthy life is good. But if your only goal is to be as healthy as possible, you need to think about what kind of life is really worth it.
Grandma died recently, and that’s left a big hole in Grandpa’s life. He lost a good partner for more than 70 years. In his early life, my grandfather suffered through the loss of both parents at a young age. This is an experience so traumatic, many people who suffer such tragedy end up taking their own lives. My grandfather, however, is a different kind of man.
He continued to care for himself, his sleep and exercise routine, his diet, and most importantly, for others — going to visit sickly relatives, and cooking meals for my aunt. Life can be terribly hard, and time pushes relentlessly forward.
My grandparents and other relatives’ example taught me that we should be happy to accept the fact that we are aging, and it is no longer a part of life that we need to fear. When we have a few positive habits and loving people well, they make all the difference. Physically and mentally/emotionally.
I’d say it’s about time you made a few changes to your life to ensure a happy 92-and-beyond self.