This article was written By Greg Thurston, Creator of 7 Minute Mindfulness
Watching videos of centurions, you start to see a theme: they seem content. That might be shocking to younger people, especially anyone who fears old age.
Maybe we fear missing out on opportunities in life, and worry that we'll find ourselves too old to do things. But we have many interviews of people 100 and older, and they love to share about their lives and offer advice to the rest of us.
Dr. Mercola (of the Mercola Video Library) interviewed three centurions for this very information, and many other people have as well.
Quite a few of us (more now than ever) have relatives or know someone who is 100 or over. One lady I know who is 104 is full of sassy attitude and enjoys talking to people.
From this wealth of information, we can form the following nine lessons.
1. Happiness comes from what we do.
At 100 years old, or older, people don't seem to sit around and smile about the things they accumulated in life.
Rather, it's more about their life experiences. Happy memories can go a long ways toward happiness later on! One man over 100 years old said he did all he wanted to do.
Now he wants to be helpful and keep going. "I have so many beautiful memories," said a woman over 100. "I got to do all the things I wanted to."
That tells us to jump in and live life - remember that it's about really living and making memories with people we love.
Science backs this up as well. We know people derive more happiness that is long-term from experiences such as vacations rather than from possessions.
2. Happiness comes from a positive attitude and optimism.
People over 100 seem to remember life through rose tinted glasses, making it sound like an adventure even through hard times, like war.
"I've always been lucky," says one centurion despite living through 2 great wars! She also talked about how "everything makes me happy. I love talking to people... going shopping."
Common advice from people who are doing well at 100 is to "Decide to be content." Others say, "Don't chase happiness. Just be satisfied."
Deciding life is good changes our perception and makes life better, and apparently it helps you live much longer!
3. Happiness comes from living in the NOW.
Age is only a number. You live for the day and keep going. This is wisdom from someone with a very long past-but they enjoy the present.
The past is the past; we can't change it. But we can rob ourselves of our present happiness and good emotional health by hanging onto old regrets, grudges, and pain.
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4. Love and Partnership is critical for long life.
Centurions often talk about their "good" marriage, all their happy memories, and all their good times together.
It's another area where they might be applying rose-tinted glasses, but it's apparent that they got emotional support and felt like they have a life partner.
They also say that people today give up too easily these days-so there was hard work involved, but at the end of their life that part isn't really important anymore.
"Being happily married and happy in general is the remedy for all illness."
We don't have studies on how marriage or long-term relationships affect life span, but you don't have to be a scientist to take note: centurions all speak about their decades long marriage with a smile on their face.
Even people who have been widowed for a few decades say they have many, many warm memories about their married life, and that still makes them happy.
5. Eat natural, real food to feel good and live long.
Many people who are 100 say they feel strong and like they're 69 or 79. These are the people who stay active physically and mentally, and have a lot to share with other people.
Many people over 100 talk about eating fresh food that they grew themselves. And older people will tell you over and over: eat in moderation!
6. Learn to adapt for a better and longer life.
"Life goes on regardless" is a common theme. People who live well into old age understand that there is hardship in life but they know life goes on and they must too.
If you live 7, 8, 9, 10 or more decades, you're going to see a lot of change.
People who adapt and change with the times do better. It's part of having a positive attitude-they're excited for new opportunities instead of fearing change.
7. Help others.
Helping others is one way to build relationships and connections, and it makes you feel great. It's another common theme among people who live to be over 100.
Being kind and helping others gives you a sense of purpose too, and it fights depression and anxiety. Not only that, it's a way of staying active and productive after you retire.
It's a win-win for everyone involved, and being older and retired can mean having more time for volunteering.
8. Always learn!
Older people will advise to get a good education to help you go far in life, and science has shown that people with a Bachelor's degree actually do live about a decade longer than people who don't have one. (From the U.S. Centers for Disease an Control Prevention)
Older people will tell you to keep learning all through life, both in and out of school.
Be curious-it makes life more interesting and fun. And it helps you stay engaged with life and the changing technology and times. That helps you adapt too.
9. Practice Mindfulness
People over 100 tend to live in the moment as it comes, rather than worrying about plans, regrets, and getting caught up in pressure and worry.
They cherish special time with family and friends, the colors and smell of a new flower in spring, or the feel of the grass on their feet.
When life is enjoyed in the moment, it's just better and people who live in the moment more tend to live longer, happier lives!
For the ULTIMATE experience of mindfulness, I highly recommend that you check out 7 Minute Mindfulness.
This method will make your mind as calm as water... I'm talking about a method that will allow you to sink into relaxation, and feel abundantly positive and happy within minutes...
It will fill your life with joy and satisfaction... And teach you how to easily defeat any life problems that you may be facing.
And it only takes 7 minutes! Follow this link: 7 Minute Mindfulness
Actively practicing mindfulness is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
When we disconnect from the mental chatter (the past, future, worry, expectations and judgements), we are able to approach life with greater perspective - we tend to see the opportunities, instead of carrying around the weight of worry and mental baggage.
There's a wealth of research on the long term and short term health benefits of mindfulness, including boosting your immune system, Preventing cellular aging, and reducing the likelihood of age-related diseases. (UCLA)
If you'd like disconnect from the mental chatter but don't have time for long drawn out meditation, then try 7 Minute Mindfulness.
In just 7 minutes you can release the stress that builds up, wipe away the mental chatter, and relax your mind and body... so you can enjoy a long and prosperous life!
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How much is too much? Educators and parents weigh in on the controversy.
Story By Marc D. Allan
Comedian Gerald Kelly tells a joke about the time he helped his 10-year-old son Joshua with homework because he wanted to give the kid a break.
“The dude came back from school on Monday with two red zeroes on his homework,” Kelly said. “He said the teacher asked who helped him with his homework, and he told her that his dad did most of it. I asked why she put two zeroes and he said, ‘She said, ‘One for me and one for you.’”
The story always gets a laugh, he said in an interview, but it happens to be true. Kelly feels his son gets too much homework, which interferes with family plans and keeps him tethered to his books when he should be out being a kid.
Tension over how much homework is too much is an ongoing debate in homes and schools around the world. On one side are parents and schools who say that children need to study more to maintain an advantage in an increasingly competitive world. The contention on the other side is that seven or eight hours of school is enough, and kids need time for other activities.
In the United States, the National Education Association endorses the so-called “10-Minute Rule”—10 minutes of homework a night for each grade level. So a second-grader should get 20 minutes, a third-grader 30 minutes and so on. Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, author of “The Learning Habit” and contributing editor for a homework study by Brown and Brandeis universities, says children in early grades shouldn’t have homework.
“The job of children when they’re 5, 6, 7 years old is to learn how to interact with the world. To play.”
“The job of children when they’re 5, 6, 7 years old is to learn how to interact with the world,” she says. “To play. To learn social skills. Homework takes time away from free play, from the development of motor skills, learning creative thinking. So rather than learning social skills, kids learn stress and performance anxiety.”
Beyond those years, she likes the 10-minute rule—as long as it’s rigidly timed. That means after the child has come home, had a snack and playtime, he sits down at a designated place, and a timer is set. He takes out the homework and does it. If he finishes before the timer goes off, he spends the remaining time reading.
“What happens when kids have this kind of schedule is they learn how to manage their time,” she says. “They know they’re going to be sitting there for 40 minutes, anyway. So they learn to monitor themselves and focus for 40 minutes, because they know after 40 minutes they’re free and can do whatever they want.”
Four years ago, Heather Shumaker wrote a letter to her son’s third-grade teacher in which she said, in part, “I don’t believe in homework for children ages 11 or under. … There is such a short amount of time in every day. School learning takes up most of the day, and when school is out kids need space and time for other things.”
She posted the letter online and subsequently heard from hundreds of thousands of people with nightmare stories about homework overload. Shumaker says the teacher appreciated having a supportive family that was actively involved in their child’s life and learning. Some teachers will react that way, she says. Others will reduce homework for the whole class because they hadn’t realized it was a problem. But there will be teachers who disagree so much that it causes a bad relationship. Most commonly, the parents and teacher meet and compromise.
Since that letter, Shumaker did a lot of research on homework for her book “It’s OK to Go Up the Slide” and found that the benefits of homework are highly age-dependent. In high school, there’s some benefit—if it’s not piled on—and in middle school there’s a slight benefit. “But in elementary school,” she says, “what they’re finding—and this is not just one study but a review of 180 peer-reviewed studies on homework—is that there was zero correlation between time spent on homework and academic achievement in elementary school.”
“Math is something you don’t get good at unless you practice. And 15 minutes of math homework every day is not excessive.”
Shumaker’s sons are now 11 and 8. The middle-schooler does homework. For the elementary-schooler, homework is “joyous and optional. If he gets the homework and he’s excited about the subject, we’re not going to stand in his way. But if he needs to go outside and whack a tree with a stick, that’s more important.”
That approach wouldn’t cut it in Steve Gold’s school district. Gold teaches seventh-grade pre-algebra in the ultra-competitive West Windsor-Plainsboro, New Jersey, Regional School District, which was profiled in The New York Times on Christmas Day 2015 in part because 40 students had been hospitalized the previous school year due to extreme stress. Gold says the district guidelines are generally about 30 minutes a night of homework for each class—three hours in total. He said he gives 10 to 15 minutes of homework nightly to reinforce what he teaches in class.
“Math is something you don’t get good at unless you practice,” he says, “and 15 minutes of math homework every day is not excessive. If you sit and you don’t have an iPad in front of you and you don’t have the TV on, 15 minutes is not a long time. Most schools in America have study halls. We have a 40-minute study hall every day. Every kid does their math homework in study hall.”
The homework debate occurs worldwide. In 2012, French President François Hollande proposed banning homework, saying work should be done at school. Schools in Finland, one of the world’s leaders in education, give little to no homework. In Canada, the Toronto District School Board recommends to teachers and parents that students have no more than 10 minutes multiplied by the grade level.
“I’m OK with that,” says Rose Felvo, who teaches Grade 4 science, social studies, math, English and French at Toronto’s Jackman Avenue Public School, a French immersion school. “I don’t assign extra work, extra drill, for homework. For the most part, homework in my classroom is assignments that were not finished in class and need to be finished at home. The only thing I do add on is, I ask students to read 15 minutes a night, alternating in French and English.”
Tomoko Nakatani, who teaches junior and senior high school at Seikyo Gakuen, a private school in Kawachinagano City, Japan, says she gives about an hour of homework a night. She teaches English for communication and English to express ideas, and students are asked to translate, look up meanings and so on. “We believe the homework will help them to understand the lesson,” she says. “We have no rules for the amount of homework. We can give as much as we like, and the parents want more. We want our students to study at least a couple of hours every day.”
Nakatami says parents expect their kids to study harder and go on to “excellent” universities. That refrain—“How will my kid get into an elite college?”—is a concern heard around the globe. So we asked Yale University: Does more homework help applicants? A spokesman directed us to two links on its website, one for advice in selecting high school courses, the other detailing what Yale looks for in prospective students.
The word “homework” does not appear on either page.
This story originally appeared in the August 2016 Kiwanis magazine.
Tags:Brandeis university, Brown University, elementary school, French President François Hollande, Gerald Kelly, Heather Shumaker, high school, homework, It’s OK to Go Up the Slide, Kawachinagano City, Japan, Kiwanis, Marc D. Allan, Mentor, Mentoring, National Education Association, performance anxiety, Rose Felvo, Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, Steve Gold, The Learning Habit, The New York Times, Tomoko Nakatani, Toronto’s Jackman Avenue Public School, West Windsor-Plainsboro, New Jersey, Regional School District, Yale University