I just got home from celebrating my Grandma’s 98th birthday in New York. Yup, you read that right! NINETY EIGHT! The most impressive thing is that she is happy and healthy, living on her own, taking care of herself, with more marbles in place than I have most days. Here’s how the day started:
Gma: “Up & at’em! Another beautiful day!”
Me: “Happy Birthday, Grandma!!! How do you feel?”
Gma: “Me?! I feel great!! I’m happy, healthy.. no complaints!”
Whoa. I’m floored. As someone in the mental/emotional/physical health profession I am beyond impressed by Grandma’s energy and spirit.
Before I give you her secrets, let me TELLLLL you, my dear G.ma has not had an easy, all-roses life. Both parents died when she was young. She did not graduate high school. She made a living as a beautician. She raised my dad alone while my grandfather was off in WW2, and has lived alone since my grandpa died about 30 years ago. Also, she has not had any mental health counseling, coaching, nor does she read self-improvement books, take e-courses, worshops, or follow any strict religion or dogma. And it’s not runner or even walkers high!
My point is, it would be SO easy for her to bitch & moan – and have total right to given the things she has been through.
SO WHY IS MY GRANDMA SO FREAKIN HEALTHY AND HAPPY??
My conclusion? She is a jedi master. A zen monk. A ninja of the soul… More simply put (and less fantastical;), she has discovered simple truths that allow her to be happy. And is somehow blessed with good genes & good juju.
I’d like to share with you the key philosophical nuggets she repeats on an almost daily basis – things I believe have helped her maintain her emotional and physical health into the ripe old age of 98. Careful not to dismiss them as cliche! These are philosophies that have guided her physical and mental health for many years and whose truths are prevalent in how she lives her life.
Here goes, Grandma drops Knowledge… (yes, with a capital K;)
1. MOVE IT.
“I say, move it or lose it! In plain English – move your ass! It’s just how you stay healthy.”
While watching TV, Gma does bicep curls, leg presses, tricep extensions. None with weight! She basically moves her body, gently, in every possible range of motion at least once a day, while sitting, while standing, even while resting. She moves, daily!
2. MAKE THE BEST, FORGET THE REST
“I don’t like to skimp, if you like it, buy it! If you can’t afford it, forget about it. You do what you can with what you have. And that’s it.”
Grandma has never been a high roller but she always has more than she needs. She appreciates what she has, buys things that bring her joy and admires things she would like to have without pining for them. She also frequently clears out the house of any extra non-essential clutter, letting it go.
3. FIND BEAUTY
“There is so much beauty in this world – the sky, the stars, the moon, the trees, nature… some people don’t see it, I say, they’re crazy!!”
EVERY DAY my grandma points out something beautiful to me. The sky, the trees, the clouds, a flower, a bird, a kind person. She has an eye for finding the miracle in simple things we see every day, and takes note, admiring and giving thanks for these small gifts.
4. TAKE ACTION
“Up and at ‘em! I wake up and jump right out of bed! Start the day and do what has to be done.”
The thought of doing something is often harder than the act of doing it. Grandma gets by by getting up, out, and doing what needs to be done. Easier said than done… unless you’re my grandma;)
5. CREATE HAPPINESS
“You make your own happiness”
Choose thoughts, people, places, work environments, etc that bring you joy. When in doubt, go back to #2.
4. BE KIND.
One her 96th birthday we went wine tasting (yeah! we did it again last weekend for her 98th;) and the bartender asked her for her secrets. After thinking for a moment, she replied, “Think happy thoughts. Be kind to people… And drink wine!” She appreciates kind people (like that sweet bartender) and strives to be one. She still gets upset at times, but she comes back to being kind, and is always ready to encourage you and give a toast to the day. “Wine not?” That one’s my favorite:)
Think about it now – How would your life be if you LIVED by these simple truths?
Here are some questions to stir your thinkin’…
1. Look on your current life and beliefs and boil them down – What quotes do you live by?
2. Imagine your future self – What do you see yourself saying at 98 years old?
3. Who are you growing into? Paint a picture of ourself at 98… describe how you see yourself living your last few years on earth.
Now share your answers – email me or if your feeling BRAVE (if not, see last post;) post them in the comments below!
There will likely be more, as G.ma is quite prolific. I’ll keep gathering her wisdom & you let me know how it goes for you! Do these resonate with you? Do you have your own nuggets of wisdom that keep you happy and mentally healthy? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Lisa – and Grandma:)