I am sure you’ve all seen pieces on the lives of some of the oldest people on the planet.  They are generally asked, “What are the secrets to a long and healthy life?” Well, Dr. Ephraim, a rheumatologist, recently did the same for the San Francisco Chronicle on his 100th birthday.  For the first time that I have ever seen, what do you think was on the list?

–Choose the right spouse. Encourage sex. Children are an option.

Now this is a wise man!  Even better in some respects is the fact that is not childfree.  It’ s not often that older generations truly get that children are not a requisite for a long and wonderful life.  We need to hear from more people like him.

Here are other things he lists, some with tongue and cheek humor (which he indirectly seems to be saying is on his list–have a sense of humor!), such as: “Be sure to select parents with the right genes; enjoy your work, whatever it is, or don’t do it; Exercise if you must (!); Avoid vitamins and other “nutrients;” Have many interests, i.e., music, reading, writing and crossword puzzles; avoid air travel. Travel by car instead; it’s more exciting; Don’t fall; Avoid heart attacks, stroke, cancer, arthritis. When convenient, see a doctor, especially a rheumatologist; Be happy and lucky. Also, keep breathing; that helps you keep young. But most important, observe No. 1, above.”

My dad recently had his 75th birthday, and reading Dr. Ephraim inspired to me ask him the same question. Now he knows I know he’d agree with Dr. Ephriam on the kid thing, but here are four things he said: Learn early in life how to eat well and exercise; Be content with what you have–you don’t have to be constantly striving!; Find a partner you are compatible with, someone to be with as you age; Moderation in all things.  Well, he and Dr. Ephraim seem to disagree on the exercise thing–me, I think our bodies are designed to move, and not be sedentary, so maybe it’s more about finding what “exercise”  is best for you.

Finding what’s best for you, in the big picture, from big life choices such as parenthood, to what gives us meaning in life sure seems like it’s on the list, too…

How would your father, or wise elder in your life answer the question, what are secrets to a long, healthy and wonderful life?

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