While no one knows for certain why some people live longer than others, the secrets behind aging fascinate pretty much everyone. Researchers have studied it for decades, but the science behind longevity is still not completely understood.
Some key factors have been identified, however, that could explain why some people live to be 100 years or older. Your personality is one, of course, and so is your diet, along with education and being mindful and social. But while you can seek a doctor’s opinion or follow all the nutritional and exercise rules, the best advice comes from those who’ve outlived most others: living centenarians.
YouTube channel LifeHunters interviewed three centenarians about their lives, lessons they learned along the way and even their regrets. Their advice comes from more than 100 years of experience—so it’s definitely worth listening to.
First up is Cliff Crozier, who was born in the United Kingdom in 1915, making him 101 at the time the video was filmed. Crozier fought in the war, but has since been retired for 38 years.
“It always pleases me, though, that I can keep robbing the government with my pension,” he says.
Crozier’s diet includes making his own bread by hand, and he says “a spot of whiskey occasionally helps.”
Crozier says he and his wife had problems, just like most couples, but they got through them. He believes people nowadays give up too easily.
His life advice? “Communicate, speak with your parents. And take their advice, too. Or at least consider it, you don’t always have to follow it. But certainly don’t throw it out of the window,” Crozier says. “Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted and be as independent as you can be, but don’t be reluctant to ask for help when you think you need it.”
Next is Amelia Tereza Harper from London. She was born in 1913 and lived in Czechoslovakia with her grandparents as a child because her father was a prisoner of war. She says one key to her long life is how she ate growing up.
“It’s all the food that my mother cooked and, first of all, grew in the garden,” she says. “We always, always had fresh food when we were youngsters. Always. Straight from the garden, into the pan and onto the plates.”
Harper was married to her husband from the age of 16 until he died when he was 70. She lost her first two children, a set of twins, and said it was the most tragic moment of her life. But while says while she will never forget, she has healed.
“It’s really wonderful to have something left behind,” she says. “Even if they are no longer here, they’re there, they’re in your mind, they’re in your air. All around you. It’s really a wonderful, wonderful feeling.”
Harper has no regrets and says her bucket list is complete.
“I’ve done practically everything that I’ve ever wanted to do in the past,” she says. “Everything makes me happy. I love talking to people, I like doing things. I like going out shopping.”
Her advice on how to live your life with others? “A good idea is to behave well to other people, show them respect,” Harper says. “And help them as much as you possibly can, and it will be repaid hundredfolds.”
Last up is John Denerley, who is also from the U.K. He was born in 1914 and says he had a relatively easy life, even though he served with the Royal Air Force for five years.
“It was an adventure more than a penalty, even amongst the bombs,” he says.
Denerley enjoyed jazz music when he was younger, saying, “I wasted a lot of time in my childhood, entertainment and that sort of thing,” He adds, however, “I enjoyed it.”
He eventually became a pharmacist. Denerley’s only regret is that he wishes he had been more attentive in school in his early life and studied harder: “I think the sooner you start studying, the better.”
The three centenarians all touched on a common theme when offering advice for a good and long life: Be happy and just keep going.
“My motto for life, there’s an old Scottish comedian Harry Lauder, sir Harry Lauder. He used to sing, ‘Keep right on to the end of the road,'” Denerley says. “And that’s my motto.”
“It’s just that, you keep going,” Crozier says of age and growing old. “It’s only a number.”
“It seems to be that if you are happy, happily married and happily living, that is the finest remedy for all illness,” Harper says. “Because everything is in perfect harmony.”