Life Lessons From Centenarians

13 Life Lessons From Centenarians That Never Get Old

You learn a thing or two in a hundred years.

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In North America, senior citizens are treated poorly, as inconvenient liabilities. Almost everywhere else in the world, elders are revered. The later years of a person's life go unnoticed, and if it is noticed, they think they are looking at the end of a timeline. What they don't know and often neglect is the years that came before it. Here are thirteen life lessons from centenarians Clifford "Cliff" Crozier, Amelia Tereza Harper, and John Denerley, that stand the test of time.

1. Live for the day.

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Yesterday existed, tomorrow does not exist yet, and in between it all, is only today. What you do now will prepare you for the future. Do not place worry over things that have not happened because they have not happened. Until they do, you have your routines and your leisure to sort them out.

2. Age is only a number.

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The Scottish comedian Bill Connolly has said, "Acting your own age is about as sensible as acting your street number." Limitations come with age but they do not define who you are. Maturity is a choice. How you look at the world, how you change it, are your choices to make. Don't let your age define you or keep you from being who you are.

3. Make memories.

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Selfies are nothing new and unlike yesteryear, a photograph taken today is taken for granted. Phones didn't need to have the space for thousands of photos but now that they do, use it sparingly. A picture speaks a thousand words but being part of the moment is just as special as capturing it. Memories are stories you cannot duplicate. Make them something to remember instead.

4. Make much of time.

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Time flies when you're having fun. Time flies on autopilot when you're working hard too. Opportunity does not always come knocking on your door, so make your own. Be proactive in your decisions and learn to balance work and play. The sooner you devote yourself to your goals, the better you and the world will be.

5. Take care of your body.

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Processed food and fast food are not always avoidable and they're not always good for moderation either. Know what you put into your body and don't become a couch potato. Eat well, stay active, and you will feel happy for it.

6. Failure is not the end, it's the start.

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Nothing successful was always that way. To make goals a reality, trial and error is necessary. Sometimes months, sometimes years of it. Don't focus on the rejections or failures too long; learn from them and focus on that one acceptance. Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

7. Start small and think big. 

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We all have our inner circles, the people that are closest to us. Be it family or friends, don't neglect to ask for their help or consider their advice. It doesn't matter where you live or how much money you have. The real meaning of life presents itself when your caring for yourself turns into a caring for something more than yourself.

8. People never die.

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People handle their mortality in their own religious and reasonable ways. To the living, the deceased are their guide and to the deceased, the living are the continuation of a conversation. People do die, but they live on in their stories. You are history, so don't forget to pass it on.

9. Regrets, like mistakes, can be repaired.

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We always try to revise our stories, to make them more exciting and glamorous than they really are. Instead of trying to answer the hypothetical "what if," spend time improving what you can now. Acknowledge what you didn't do or did do, and learn from the experience to make a new and better experience.

10. Keep up with the times, but don't forget the times.

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The world changes faster more often than we can sleep. Before we know it, we wake up to some new replacement or technology that becomes a requirement. While the days of old are not too far away, adapting to the new world does not have to happen all at once. Slow and steady has always been a foolproof way of living, but don't be afraid to learn the curve; an email and a phone call is convenient but a visit face-to-face is courteous.

11. First comes happiness, then comes love.

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If you're not happy, find out what does make you happy. Satisfying the person you are is an ongoing journey, but once you know happiness, you can share it with someone else. Love comes after happiness. Happiness is when you know you're in love. In love with who you are, what you do, and everyone else who is happy too. Find your peace of the puzzle called life.

12. Be a source and be resourceful.

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The best way to find help for yourself is to start by helping others. Ask questions and answer questions equally. Admit when you don't know something and go near and far to find it out. No one knows everything, but we do know some things. Work together to learn as much as you can.

13. Keep moving forward.

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Don't stop thinking about tomorrow. If something or someone gets you down, turn yourself around, and rise up to the occasion. Accept your past but don't let it define the present or future. Think differently. Do it again. Progress can be made but it doesn't happen unless you keep moving forward.

We all are getting older, if we're fortunate enough, and if you get to be a day older, make sure you're a day wiser.

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A Letter To My Humans On Our Last Day Together

We never thought this day would come.
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I didn't sleep much last night after I saw your tears. I would have gotten up to snuggle you, but I am just too weak. We both know my time with you is coming close to its end, and I just can't believe it how fast it has happened.

I remember the first time I saw you like it was yesterday.

You guys were squealing and jumping all around, because you were going home with a new dog. Dad, I can still feel your strong hands lifting me from the crate where the rest of my puppy brothers and sisters were snuggled around my warm, comforting puppy Momma. You held me up so that my chunky belly and floppy wrinkles squished my face together, and looked me right in the eyes, grinning, “She's the one."

I was so nervous on the way to my new home, I really didn't know what to expect.

But now, 12 years later as I sit in the sun on the front porch, trying to keep my wise, old eyes open, I am so grateful for you. We have been through it all together.

Twelve “First Days of School." Losing your first teeth. Watching Mom hang great tests on the refrigerator. Letting you guys use my fur as a tissue for your tears. Sneaking Halloween candy from your pillowcases.

Keeping quiet while Santa put your gifts under the tree each year. Never telling Mom and Dad when everyone started sneaking around. Being at the door to greet you no matter how long you were gone. Getting to be in senior pictures. Waking you up with big, sloppy kisses despite the sun not even being up.

Always going to the basement first, to make sure there wasn't anything scary. Catching your first fish. First dates. Every birthday. Prom pictures. Happily watching dad as he taught the boys how to throw every kind of ball. Chasing the sticks you threw, even though it got harder over the years.

Cuddling every time any of you weren't feeling well. Running in the sprinkler all summer long. Claiming the title “Shotgun Rider" when you guys finally learned how to drive. Watching you cry in mom and dads arms before your graduation. Feeling lost every time you went on vacation without me.

Witnessing the awkward years that you magically all overcame. Hearing my siblings learn to read. Comforting you when you lost grandma and grandpa. Listening to your phone conversations. Celebrating new jobs. Licking your scraped knees when you would fall.

Hearing your shower singing. Sidewalk chalk and bubbles in the sun. New pets. Family reunions. Sleepovers. Watching you wave goodbye to me as the jam-packed car sped up the driveway to drop you off at college. So many memories in what feels like so little time.

When the time comes today, we will all be crying. We won't want to say goodbye. My eyes might look glossy, but just know that I feel your love and I see you hugging each other. I love that, I love when we are all together.

I want you to remember the times we shared, every milestone that I got to be a part of.

I won't be waiting for you at the door anymore and my fur will slowly stop covering your clothes. It will be different, and the house will feel empty. But I will be there in spirit.

No matter how bad of a game you played, how terrible your work day was, how ugly your outfit is, how bad you smell, how much money you have, I could go on; I will always love you just the way you are. You cared for me and I cared for you. We are companions, partners in crime.

To you, I was simply a part of your life, but to me, you were my entire life.

Thank you for letting me grow up with you.

Love always,

Your family dog

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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Your Feelings Are Not Invalid, It's OK To Not Be OK

I know that life can get really hard, but I promise it'll be okay.

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Recently, I have had an extremely hard time with my level of happiness that I have in my life. I go through my days feeling overly exhausted by the drama and hardship around me. I have gone through the past few weeks really struggling with this stint of depression and anxiety that I have been fighting with through the course of my life. These past few weeks, I have had large issues with this feeling of not being good enough and feeling like the world around me is falling apart because of stress and drama and self-image issues happening around me. I was at a point where I found myself not being able to have a positive thought in my mind and it was feeling like the whole world was against me.

I hate feeling like this. I feel like my world is crashing down and I truly just want to feel better. I have come to the conclusion in my life that the world I find myself living in makes us feel like if you feel depressed or upset, you have an issue and you are not alright. Numerous times I have been told that I need to get over it or that my issues are just "first world issues" that do not matter. This has shown me that there is communication in our world that is not being discussed. Depression has become this thing that society looks at so commonly and we have become accustomed to the idea of people around us being depressed that it makes us numb to it. This has made people think of depression as something not as horrible as it truly is because "everyone" has it. Depression is something that is extremely detrimental to the person being affected by it.

My journey with depression and anxiety started at a young age. I would have anxiety attacks at random times because of untold issues that I was having with my father or issues with bullying. From that young age, I learned very quickly to put up an act when I was around people because I didn't want them to tell me that I needed to get over it or tell me that it was not an actual issue and I was just being dramatic. I kept my mouth shut and pretended that this black mass wasn't engulfing me into is and pulling me deeper and deeper into this whole that was full of self-deprecating thoughts and images. People in school with me and that went dancing with me couldn't tell at all. They thought that I was this nice, happy little girl and honestly, I couldn't be mean to anyone else because all of my efforts were being put into being mean to myself. But, as I said, I couldn't express this to anyone because I felt like this issue I was having was one that I shouldn't be having and that there was something wrong with me for feeling this way.

Here's the thing: it has taken me so long to realize it, but I have come to understand that it is okay not to be okay.

Going through my life with this overall and underlying sadness and self-image trouble does prevent me from doing some things, but it does not mean that I need to stop doing what I am. I do have this issue but it is alright for me to talk about it and there is nothing wrong with me for feeling the way I do because at this point in my life and in history, there are a lot of things I have to deal with that are not the greatest mentally. Understanding the issue and talking about it is the only way to improve my metal standing, however, and I feel like this right to talk about it should not feel like it is too taboo to actually have conversations about. The world around us though needs to listen and stop blowing off these issues like they are not important. I have experienced many times this idea of someone telling me that I complain too much after I talk to them about the struggles I have in my life and I am sick and tired of feeling as though my problems do not matter. Big or small, people react to hardships differently and this needs to be something that the world understands and listens to.

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