Monday, January 5, 2009

103 Years Young (Healthy and Happy, Too!)

My great-grandma, Helena Janusz, is an amazing woman.

At 103 years old (yes, you read that correctly!) she continues to be an inspiration.

At a mere four foot something, she still enjoys overall good health, living by herself and being of sound mind. She keeps up with the current happenings in the world, can converse on any subject and still enjoys a nice glass of wine. Despite her delicate frame, I've heard her astound grown men with the strength in her handshake.

I've asked her many times what her secret is, to which she usually just chuckles and wisely mentions the fact that as long as you are happy, everything else will follow.

She could choose to dwell on the hardships in her life, including being a survivor of Holocaust work camps or losing her husband, son and other beloved family members over the years, but she doesn't. Her focus tends to be on the positive, and not of the past, but of the present.

One of the key things I've observed over the years is that Great-Grandma has a positive attitude in just about any situation and has continued to evolve her ideas instead of becoming victim to a stagnant mind and attitude.

Unfortunately we've all seen the negative effects of age, namely the phenomenon of becoming "stuck in your ways". This tends to go hand in hand with a negative world view and overall grumpy attitude, don't you agree?

Great-Grandma, while being traditional in many ways, has often amazed me by being accepting of more modern thoughts. For example, we recently discussed the joys of dating and the choice of living with someone without being married. In her young days this was not a socially-acceptable option, but since times have changed, she too has changed and updated her ideas, understanding that 2009 is a different time with both different challenges and breakthroughs for women.

What I have observed from great-grandma in terms of being happy and healthy as we grow older can be summarized in a few key points:

  • Keep active - physically and mentally

  • Be good to your body - "everything in moderation"

  • Choose a positive perspective

  • Focus on the present and future - don't dwell on the past

  • Allow growth and change in your ideas and beliefs

    • Some of these are, of course, easier said than done. And the question of, "where do I start?" often arises.

      Just think of the last time you heard the infamous copout, "we all have to die of something eventually," or "that's too much work". I agree that all of us are destined for an exit eventually, but why make it ugly and uncomfortable on the way out? Why have we accepted this as our fate?

      No matter your age or health, this should be your next step to a healthier and happier you. It just could be the best investment you've ever made for yourself.

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