Recipe For A Long Life


Celebrating my father’s 100th birthday last weekend got me wondering if there’s such a thing as a recipe for a long life. I don’t believe there is one recipe for all any more than my granola recipe is the only one. But here are a few things I have observed, many of which come from watching the example of my father.


1. Think not about what you don’t have, but rather what you do.

2. Find gratitude in every day.

3. Seek out people you love and make plans to see them.

4. Never stop making friends. The older you get the more you need younger ones.

5. Spend time every day with beauty, in any form; green grass and trees, a painting or postcard, a favorite song or piece of music, the smell of a flower, the face of a loved one, the texture and feel of a piece of clothing or fabric, or the fur of a beloved pet.

6. Make yourself a place of honoring whatever opens you to beauty. Beauty is a doorway to the soul.

7. Get enough sleep and exercise.

8. Eat in moderation. You can have something tempting and caloric, just not every day.

9. Laugh a lot!

10. And most of all, love and love, and love some more. Never stop loving. Let it begin with yourself. It widens the circle of love around you. I believe that of all the ingredients for a long life, love is the greatest.




What ingredients would you add to the recipe for a long life?
What other question(s) does this contemplation evoke for you?

This entry was posted in Eileen's Armchair. Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Recipe For A Long Life

  1. Toby says:

    Great list. May we all strive to do them. I’ll add another from my father’s credo for living beyond 100: Do a good deed/mitzvah every day. He said that in addition to making him feel better, it gave him purpose every day.

    • joaneee says:

      Toby . . . your father was my good friend and still remains in my heart. Of all those I have ever known, he exemplfied “giving to others” , and he did it joyfully – and lived his credo to the very last, even when it wasn’t so easy. “Doing a good deed” as he did also served to connect him with others — so important particularly in our later years — but all who knew him felt richer from their connection. He is never to be forgotten. Joan

      • eileenrockefeller says:

        Toby, I love your addition. Wish I’d thought of it myself. Thanks for sending it along.

  2. Hank Resnik says:

    100! A great achievement for your father–among so many others. Excellent blog entry.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Thanks Hank. How nice to know you’re reading my blog! All my best to you. Eileen

  3. Yvonne says:

    Ingredient to add– reading Eileen’s posts. It often gives me a smile, sometimes a tear, but am always inspired to open myself to ideas and more personal introspection. Thank you.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Thanks for your nice complement, Yvonne. I’m glad to know that you find ideas for your own introspection.

  4. Hi Eileen, wonderful heartfelt article, so obviously motivated by your love and admiration for your father. In my paternal side of the family of great aunts and uncles and great grandparents, many lived to be over 100 yrs. of age. One of my paternal great great grandfathers lived to be 117 yrs. of age– “honest engine”, as we used to say in childhood years! I remember “most” of these hard working strong people, immigrants from Lebanon.They lived, “nicely”…

    My father, always, said “Do the best you can.” I believe that attitude works. Also, I believe that a great radio station does wonders for many facets of the brain. Also, I love beautiful picture books of gardens, travel, great photos of life’s wonders, etc. … just a few thoughts… The longest day of the year is soon to descend on us–boo hoo…I love LIGHT !

  5. Eileen my friend, you captured the most important ones. In fact, your list is going on my fridge right away!! Thanks so much!…..and belated best wishes to your amazing dad! Love, Louise

  6. joaneee says:

    Your photo of the fireworks must have set the scene for your family celebration of your father’s 100th . . . and there is something about those lights in the night sky that touch me. , , as few reach that age, still carrying the looks and vitality and the flash in his eye that many do not have at 80. Your list is a thoughtful one, Eileen, and – of course – in life, love given and received, is the key element.

    I am hoping that the gathering of family — the togetherness of those moments — will provide some “forever” family bonds — a drawing together — for you as well. All of us wish for – long for – those “light up our lives” moments that warm our hearts, making our lives the best they can be.

    Eileen, this was a lovely piece, designed so well to make us think. . and so we thank you.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      You are welcome, Joan. I’m gratified that you, who are such a good writer yourself, enjoy the design of the post. Yes, it was fireworks at my dad’s party! And yes, we have strong family bonds, for which I’m very grateful. Warm wishes to you.

  7. Matt Bucklin says:

    Being in a tight knit community of close friends and relatives significantly adds years to your life.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      I think you’re right Matt. It was so nice being with you last weekend, and Ari did an outstanding job. I’ll write her soon, but please let her know how impressed I was.

  8. Irma says:

    Dear Eileen, please give my warmest wishes to your father! 100 is a mile stone that we all admire and wish to touch. He did it! WOW, may he enjoy many more healthy years ahead!
    Your long life recipe is the best. I will add one more “ingredient” that my father loved and enjoyed to the fullness: “Live your life like you will die tomorrow and do your work like you will never die”. Love you. Irma

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Lovely, Irma! Thank you for sharing your father’s wisdom. Wouldn’t it be nice to get wisdom from all over the world like this? I hope you and Roger are well. love, Eileen

  9. Phyll says:

    A home in our hearts,
    A walk in the woods,
    A carriage ride,
    A steady stride.

    A barrel of beauty
    A mountain of love
    A sea of savoring
    A grace from Above.

    Mix together and let rest,
    For a lifetime of peace, sweet
    friendships and life’s caress.

  10. Susan Rockefeller says:

    Beautiful sentiments and thank you for sharing. Love is the glue and caring friends and family adds to a life of longevity and purpose.

  11. eileenrockefeller says:

    I couldn’t agree more. What was potentially a complicated weekend, with remember dear Richard, turned out to be warm and touching all around.

  12. Ellicott McConnell says:

    I think your list is a wonderful one for making the most of the raw material God has granted us. However, I am afraid that the identity of our parents is the most important single factor influencing longevity.

    Mac McConnell

  13. eileenrockefeller says:

    You have a point there Mac! But it’s fun to think of how to optimize our life while we’re still here to enjoy it!

  14. Charlie Calhoun says:

    wonderful list.
    Beauty abounds: in nature and in people. Some of my favorites are running in Rockefeller preserve, teaching (though retired I still sub in Irvington – really fine youngsters).
    In art I most love Tiffany lamps. I have a collection of 14 Tiffany reproductions that you could see anytime. I just love them and enjoy them every day!
    I love the sunsets on Ft Myers beach!

    You are so right. As Dale Carnegie (spelling?) said, “Count your blessings, not your troubles.”

    Thank you for your list.

  15. Charlie Calhoun says:

    After I posted my comment I noticed your comment about recipes for longevity and your dad’s 100th birthday. I have a few additional comments. Since about 1970 I’ve had great interest in outstanding health, fitness and longevity. As a teacher of Science and Health there was a professional interest and thousands of children to teach. Here are some of my sources and things I learned in my travels. They are interesting but in truth your list is wonderful and hard to add to.

    Near 1970 I read AEROBICS by Ken Cooper, THE SAVE YOUR LIFE DIET by Dr. Reuben and SUPERNUTRITION by Richard Passwater. Since then I’ve been convinced that aerobic fitness is a huge plus. A high fiber diet is outstanding for multiple reasons. Fiber only comes from plant sources. Supplementing our diet with vitamins and some minerals can be protective. So I’ve done all these things and have enjoyed wonderful health and fitness. I also sought to eat as little meat as possible (not always successfully).

    Longevity requires right choices and also some good fortune. But even without great longevity wonderful health is its own reward for however long one lives. In recent years I saw the movie FORKS OVER KNIVES which spoke to near elimination of cardiovascular diseases and perhaps 40% of cancers (a great and very worthwhile video).

    About 25 years ago I received a lecture on a CD called DEADLY RECIPE which speaks to mineral supplementing. It is an awesome speech and contains lots of correct science and a bit of quackery (he is marketing colloidal minerals). He has a very entertaining delivery in is very funny at times. You might enjoy it if you can find it. Speaker is Dr. Joel Wallach. If you don’t locate you can contact me and I’ll mail you a copy. I’ve been taking those minerals just about daily ever since and enjoy fine health and fitness. NOTE: I’m not selling anything, but I do enjoy sharing information.

    Dr. Wallach makes an interesting comment in that lecture. Discounting wealth he states, “No billionaire has ever lived to 100.” Wow I thought, if true that would make your dad a world record holder. Congratulations!!!! Dr Wallach also addresses potential longevity and gives examples of people living to 120 plus. He gives MANY examples of 100+ living in an earlier speech which I would gladly send you if you would like.

    Recently in the media was mentioned the 5 day fast which they claim will both improve health and lengthen lives. In lab animals restricted diets doubled or tripled life length when compared to animals on unrestricted diets. This has been known for years, in fact it’s mentioned in both of Dr. wallach’s lectures.

    John D. Rockefeller seems to have done the correct things. He didn’t overeat, got exercise, adequate rest and lived to 98. He well exceeded the averages and in an age preceding antibiotics and much of modern medicine. A great job for sure.

    Sorry to be so wordy, but I hope you find an interesting nugget or two.

    Sincerely, Charlie Calhoun

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Thanks Charlie, for taking the time to list some of you favorite books, CD’s and other ideas. I’m sure my other readers will enjoy them too. I don’t know if my dad is truly the first billionaire to reach 100, but all I can say is he is filled with gratitude every day, and loves his family and friends. I appreciate his values.

  16. will parish says:

    Hi Eileen,
    Recently I asked my 95-year old dad, who still drives and walks a mile a day, his secret and the first one he said was that he is grateful everyday for what he has. Your blog made me so appreciate the wisdom of our elders. Too often ignored.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Thanks Will. It’s nice to share the privilege of having elder fathers. We get to see more of their essence as each year passes. Love, Eileen

  17. Darrel Huenergardt says:

    Your comments suggest a focus on quantity of life, but As I read and re-read your list I see quality of life more than quantity. How meaningful is a 103 year lifespan if it only focuses inward and on how many years of living when compared to a 40 year lifespan that focused on service to others (love)? But why not strive for both even though quality may be more important than quantity?

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      You are right. True wisdom is in the balance of quality and quantity. My brother lived for only 65 years, but his life was full throttle, living up to his potential more than anyone I knew. He accomplished so much in so relatively short a life, and loved every moment. My father has both genes and luck. Thanks for your thoughts.

  18. Charlie Calhoun says:

    I stumbled upon your blog the other day from Facebook and it is great. Graceful, uplifting, positive, encouraging and enlightening.

    Here is another long life tidbit from today’s NY POST. A lady from Brooklyn aged 116 was just declared the oldest person in the world. Asked how she did it told of her daily (365 days a year) breakfast of “4 strips of bacon, eggs and grits..” Which she cooked herself until age 100. Now that’s a recipe I could enjoy.

  19. eileenrockefeller says:

    Sounds good to me! Thanks for the additional tip!

  20. Cynthia MacKay says:

    “I tell you one thing-
    If you want peace of mind
    Do not find fault with others.
    Rather learn to see your own faults.
    Learn to make the whole world your own.
    No one is a stranger, my child;
    The whole world is your own.”

    Sri savada devi

    Those who give to others-and your family, Eileen, has been doing that for generations-have peace of mind. This is what leads to a long live and even better a meaningful one.

  21. eileenrockefeller says:

    That’s a comforting thought Cynthia, except on the days when I skip out into the sunshine and enjoy a mountain top in the Adirondacks, and don’t think a minute about work! But we all need those days too, to keep the balance. Be sure you are doing enough of those for yourself during this first difficult year especially. Big hugs to you.

  22. Wanda Urbanska says:

    I love this list, especially knowing the closeness between Eileen and her father. How wonderful that he has made the long journey to celebrate his 100th birthday. As I am currently summering in Warsaw, Poland (“Paris without tourists”), the Poles would raise the “sto lat” toast to David Rockefeller: may he live 100 years! He has defied the odds and done so. So here’s to his second hundred years! Eileen, I have to agree with you; the secret to a good and long life is to be found in bathing yourself in love and in relishing the small beautiful moments each day.

  23. So good to hear from you Wanda. And “Sto lat” to you too! Warmly, Eileen

Comments are closed.