Sadly, the world’s oldest man, Walter Breuning, died yesterday in Montana at the age of 114. A detailed and interesting writeup of his life’s story is included in this article.
It’s a wonderful story of triumph, heartbreak, and life through World War 1, the great depression, World War 2, the post-war era, and now modern day life. He lived through the entire 20th century and it’s interesting to see his life interwoven with the events of the world at large. The story is timeless and reminds us all how amazing and precious life is.
What I found interesting were his secrets to a long life:
1. Embrace change, even when the change slaps you in the face. (“Every change is good.”)
2. Eat two meals a day (“That’s all you need.”)
3. Work as long as you can (“That money’s going to come in handy.“)
4. Help others (“The more you do for others, the better shape you’re in.“)
5. Accept death (“Never be afraid to die because you’re born to die.“)
What wonderful advice! Imagine how much change this man went through in his life. When he was born his family didn’t have a radio and nightly entertainment came from his grandfather’s Civil War stories. How different the world is upon his exit as it was upon his entrance, yet he embraces change.
Similarly, the idea of helping others. There is something to be said of altruism and I think helping others altruistically helps set you free. There are few rewards in life as great and sweet as helping others and expecting nothing in return.
Mr. Breuning worked for 50 years in the railroad industry. As per his advice, he kept working though. He was the manager and secretary for a local organization until he was 99 years old.
Mr. Breuning’s advice struck me as very poignant and practical, yet timeless. Certainly, we can apply much of his advice to our own lives as we work toward our own happy and long lives.
What do you think about his advice? Leave a comment below!