An entrepreneur in one of the mastermind groups I am a member of posted an email with this subject line:
What I do to live 100 years in good health…and potentially live much longer
He proceeded to share his regular routine of healthy diet, exercise, meditation and a host of other things—nothing I would disagree with or not give him props for—and the result is a 41-year-old who has been told he looks 35 or less.
As a 64-year-old who has been told I don’t look a day over 63, he’s doing better than I am…and his plan seems to be working. 🙂
But there is another angle on longevity…and I want to refer to my mom…who I wrote about recently in “May the fourth be with you forever” (to honor her 97th birthday).
Today I am not writing about her in a celebratory way…or maybe I am…if we can turn this post into a celebration of her life despite some sad news.
I’ll see what I can do.
My mom (who many of you have gotten to know over the years through my posts about her), passed away this week…and if you read that post from a month ago (or read it now), the reasons she lived to be “almost 100,” with vivaciousness and lots of spunk, are hidden in plain sight.
With her passing, I had to think more about it because she didn’t really exercise too much and she definitely didn’t meditate…and while she always ate her vegetables, her diet was about the same for 9+ decades.
She did watch her salt intake…but that alone could not account for living into her 98th year.
The fact that she had no acute ailments or disease or failing organs as I sat next to her on her deathbed (in hospice in her home which was her wish), is a testament to something…and her strong beating heart seemed to be a metaphor for her life.
I couldn’t help but think:
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all could say goodbye this way?
But I thought longer and harder about why she lived so long and so well.
The word that kept coming up was that she was always “interested.”
And interested in the things that really matter.
She was a child of the depression…and like so many others of that generation, she believed that life is more about experiences and people and less about money and possessions.
I believe her keen interest in meaningful relationships with people, places and things—regardless of their monetary value or worth– was the key to her long life.
The low salt diet could only be responsible for so much…and as far as I know, she never took a cold plunge or took nutritional supplements either, two other things many incorporate into their regimen for living healthier and longer.
She probably could have eased up a bit on always trying to get a deal on everything…and learned to spend on herself for more creature comforts…but she always had what she needed and wanted.
Her money was never frivolously spent…which was part of her DNA.
The result was that she died with money in the bank…and with tons of possessions (very few of which would be worth much to anyone but her).
She accumulated what most of us would classify as junk…but it was her junk…and all of that junk being around her was why she wanted to die peacefully at home surrounded by all of it.
I can tell you the cleanup has been exhausting…and it will go on for quite a while…but I believe all of that seemingly meaningless stuff surrounding her is what kept her alive blissfully for 97 years.
Which brings me to a recommendation I will make to all of you:
Surround yourself with the things that bring you joy no matter how cluttered it might get. And clutter yourself not only with your meaningful junk, but also with the meaningful people and places that bring you joy.
Don’t worry about the cleanup of the “things” you leave behind …leave that to others…just pay extra close attention to the most important people and places in your life every day…and simply put, be immersed (literally and figuratively) in your life in any and all ways that make sense.
Including living with clutter if that is what floats your boat.
To the naked eye my mom didn’t accomplish anything “significant” in her lifetime…she left me (and everyone she touched) with “significance” by showing us how to live rather than simply telling us how to live.
Being “interested” included a “family first” mindset followed by “everyone else is significant too” …and she covered off on everyone who touched her by touching them back.
Hanging out with her was always a conversation of who she had been in touch with, who she needed to get in touch with, and how she could add special touches with those communications.
Without email or Facebook. How is that possible?
Phone was her first choice…phone was her second choice…and snail mail was a distant third.
If you wanted my mom in your life, you had to pick up the phone…and if you don’t use a phone as a phone, you would need to regularly check your mailbox (the one at the end of your driveway, not the one inside your computer or smartphone).
Her quirky adventures in “outbound telemarketing” and how she stamped her outgoing mail (and many other ways she contributed to my world and the world of many others) are chronicled in “May the fourth be with you forever.”
This post is a bit melancholier than the one a month ago (now that she’s gone) …but she left a lasting footprint.
I hope you have found her interest in you (yes, she asked about you, my online family regularly!)–and the lessons she taught me about how to live 97 years with gusto–useful in some way.
Meaningful clutter indeed. 🙂
P.S. 97 years is nothing compared to Dan Sullivan’s goal of living to 156…and in honor of the top coach for entrepreneurs getting to “halftime” (he turned 78 a couple of weeks ago), I encourage you to read “Living to be 156” which he inspired me to write in 2014, shortly after beginning this weekly blog.
Dan’s notion of “when death comes knocking, get busy” is something we can all embrace…and while Dan is about changing the world for entrepreneurs, there are less ambitious things that can keep you busy and relevant…and can keep death away too.
It’s about the choices we make for ourselves, not the choices others make for us.
That is the overriding similarity between Dan and my mom.
It’s also about creating a world of abundance, not scarcity, and abundance comes in many shapes and sizes.
The group I belong to that Dan founded within his company Strategic Coach is called “10X” …and I’ve learned that you can 10X anything…money, influence, contribution, impact…maybe even years.
But your life is much more than an age or a number.
Becoming sugar free and gluten free is merely the beginning 🙂
P.P.S. I can’t help sharing again one of the most prophetic anecdotes that has become part of my regular “material” …and it applies here with my mother’s passing…and it’s about your funeral and mine…and hers too:
People will be very sad at our funerals…they will cry, they will talk about what great people we were, and share how much we will be missed.
But remember…at some point near the end of the service, someone will turn to the person next to them and say:
“I’m hungry. Let’s go to Denny’s.”
My mentor Marty Edelston told me that “we only go through life once so we might as well be the world’s best” …and to do that, you must be choosing your future…what you select from the past to take with you into that future and leave what you don’t need behind…and you also must think about your future being long rather than short.
And in memory of my mom, after your next Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast (or equivalent), phone a relative or a friend. 🙂
May 4, 1925 – May 30, 2022