20 Secrets from a Centenarian on Life, Passion and Inspiration

by Diane Berenbaum
"There is a time to instruct and a time to inspire. We often think we're doing one when we're actually doing the other. Is your enthusiasm contagious or is it contained? Are you inspiring those around you?"
The MondayMorningMemo © Roy H. Williams,
The Wizard of Ads®
We may know inspiring people, but do we understand what it takes to inspire others?
What do we mean by "inspiration" anyway? According to the Oxford Dictionary, it's the "process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative." In other words, when we're inspired, we're moved and often encouraged to do something new and/or different.
Inspiration is everywhere. Yet, it may look and feel very different for each one of us. Something may be considered the most inspiring thing in the world to one person, but totally uninspiring to someone else. 
Perhaps some of the most inspiring people of all are centenarians; those who've lived life (100+ years!) and "seen it all." And many have a lot to say about it—with an open heart and a sense of humor too. 
For example, the world's oldest woman, 116-year-old Susannah Mushatt Jones, attributes her longevity to a daily dose of four strips of bacon. For 110-year-old Agnes Fenton, "three cans of Miller High Life a day and a shot of good booze at 5 p.m. does the trick!"

The Huffington Post interviewed a centenarian named Ruth. Since the age of 92, Ruth has taken Pilates classes on a weekly basis; and, according to her friends, "she has a mean sense of style." She also willingly shared her advice about life:

  1. "Even if you feel hatred, keep it to yourself. Don't hurt other people for
    any reason."
  2. "Don't ever give up on love."
  3. "If you are embarrassed to be dating someone, you should not be dating them."
  4. "Do one thing each day that is just for you."
  5. "Don't be a cheapskate."
  6. "Forgive."
  7. "Find your passion and live it."
  8. "Be lovable. I've lived a long life because there are so many people who love me."
  9. "Don't look at the calendar; just keep celebrating every day."
  10. "Don't compare!" 
  11. "You'll never be happy with your life. The grass is always greener."
  12. "Don't beat yourself up over mistakes."
  13. "Take time to mourn what you've lost."
  14. "Thank your parents for all they've done for you."
  15. "Don't take life too seriously."
  16. "You don't have to have it all figured out."
  17. "Enjoy your work."
  18. "Don't take vitamins. You should get that stuff from the real thing."
  19. "Do exercise. Just go for a walk; that's all. It's important."
  20.  "See the humor in everything. Thumb your nose at sadness. You can't laugh and be angry, you can't laugh and feel sad, and you can't laugh and feel envious."

You've got to admire her creativity and sincerity! 
This list is also a great reminder for me. My modus of operandi lately has been "get it done." And, I've been inflicted with the disease of being "busy" with one activity after another, which saps energy as well as the ability to be fully present with others. In the process, I haven't always listened as fully, or laughed as much, as I'd like.
So, beware of focusing on just your routine activities, because for most of us they are humdrum and uninspiring. Instead, take time to share your passion, appreciate who you are, and laugh daily. And always remember…you're worth it.

Diane Berenbaum is a long-time contributor and former editor of the MAGIC Service Newsletter. She has more than twenty-five years of experience as a consultant, coach, and facilitator. Diane is the co-author of How to Talk to Customers: Create a Great Impression Every Time with MAGIC® .
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