Turning 100: Is The Secret Really A Secret At All?

It seems that we are constantly bombarded with the “secret” to living a healthier, longer life. Between the latest “miracle” diet, to eating a special berry found only in the Amazon and daily downward dogs, how are we supposed to figure out the answer?

I decided to get to the bottom of this once and for all! Where did I go? To an expert, of course.

Meet Ruth.  She just turned 100.

If anyone would know the true secret, it would be her…right?

When I sat down with Ruth shortly after she celebrated her 100th birthday, I couldn’t wait to finally have the precious knowledge everyone has been searching for. Was she going to say eating well was the way to go? Had the fitness buffs been right all along? Or would a good ol’ positive attitude come out victorious?

As it turns out, the answer to all of it is yes. And also something that may surprise you.

Ruth was born and raised on a farm in Kansas. The oldest of 11 brothers and sisters (can you imagine?), they grew up in a loving home, playing games and cheering on the local basketball team, the Kansas Jayhawks. But when it came to her favorite sport, Ruth didn’t just stay on the sidelines. She played on a town team with ladies in her community until she was 40 years old! Ruth laughed at the thought of the black bloomers they used to wear as they sprinted up and down the court. She didn’t think much about them at the time, but looking back, she’s glad they went out of style.

Ok, exercise. That’s it! I was already thinking about what class I was going to try and sneak in at the gym that afternoon when we started talking about life on the farm. Her parents grew wheat, but they didn’t stop there. Ruth and her family sat down to meals that came from their own backyard, not off a shelf. They had cows and chickens and her mother grew nearly every fruit and vegetable you can imagine in their garden.

As we talked, I pictured a young Ruth and her siblings helping bring in that night’s dinner. I wondered if she ever got stuck at the dinner table for hours because she refused to eat her farm-to-table broccoli. Somehow, I doubted it.

Eat well, stay active and enjoy the simple things.

I wasn’t surprised that eating well and staying active really did turn out to be two keys to Ruth’s ability to hit the century mark. However, the more we delved into her story I began to discover another “secret” I had never considered before.

It isn't just one secret that helps us reach 100 years old.
It isn't just one secret that helps us reach 100 years old.

Simplicity.

Ruth was born in 1917, a time without most of the technology life revolves around today. She couldn’t even show off pictures of her younger years because cameras as we know them didn’t exist! Radios did though, and Ruth smiled as she recalled listening to it with her family while they played games like Crokinole. That same smile crept across her face as she talked about watching her own children and grandchildren (and great grandchildren) play games and attending their sporting events. I grinned imagining sweet Ruth sitting in the high school bleachers, giving the ref a piece of her mind when she disagreed with a call.

I was so enthralled by Ruth’s upbringing. I loved how her eyes twinkled when she thought about life on the Kansas farm, surrounded by a real social network, not worrying about “likes” or lack thereof. She didn’t have to try and make her life appear better, because honestly, it was pretty darn great.

So there it was. Ruth’s secret revealed! Eat well, stay active and enjoy the simple things. Done! But just for fun I decided to come out and ask Ruth what she considered to be the catalyst behind her long life. Turns out, it’s something this world could definitely use more of.

You know, I like to see all the good in people. And I have so many good people. I feel like it's the right way to be. It makes me feel good.

- Ruth

Me too, Ruth. Me too.

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