The most frequent response I heard from my father in response to the question about living a healthy, long life was “Be positive.” What does that mean? Respond to every situation in life looking for the good. Look for the good in others and speak to that. Looking on the bright side will change your physiology and actually promotes health. So, backed by science, a good key to a long, healthy life is to be positive.
What ever else was happening around him, my father tried to respond with patience and kindness. My father was born in New York in 1915. When he was a little boy, he was swinging his feet while sitting on a bench and the old man sitting next to him on the bench snapped at him to sit still and stop banging on the bench. At that moment, as a little boy, he put himself on a trajectory of kindness. He decided right there to be nice. Being nice will always serve. Some may mistake kindness for weakness. Be kind anyway.
My father took vitamins and ate well. He also ate cookies regularly. He never overindulged, just a couple at a time. If he drank alcohol, it was one shot. The great Rambam was a doctor and a sage. He teaches moderation. My father walked the walk: Be moderate: enjoy what life has to offer without over doing.
After moving away from my parents’ home, whenever I came to visit my father would check to make sure my windshields were clean. He’d clean them if they weren’t. He taught me: keep your windows and the headlights of your car clean too; you’ll have better visibility. It’s safer to drive when you can see clearly. It’s a great metaphor for all of life. Keep your own perspective clear and you’ll see what’s happening around you more clearly.
Each one of those tips has served me well. I share them with you today, the anniversary of his passing, to lift our spirits a little bit, and in so doing, honor his memory.