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A zest for living, to 100 and beyond

A Christian Science perspective.

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When a person reaches 100 years and beyond and is still active and healthy – as is the case with an increasing number of individuals these days – everyone wants to know the “secret” of their success.

A young friend of mine asked his centenarian great-grandfather the secret of his longevity. With tongue in cheek and a sprightly smile the gentleman quipped, “I get up every morning.” Bingo! A sense of humor appears to be one contributor to a long and happy life.

In a Google search, I learned that interviewers of centenarians have found humor to be just one of many life-enhancing qualities that consistently show up among them. To name a few more: a keen interest in learning new things; adaptability to change; creativity; continuing productivity, even a new career after retirement; a love of problem solving; generosity of spirit; keeping oneself involved with other people and developing meaningful relationships, old and new; religious faith; and calm in the presence of what could be stressful circumstances.

Such qualities indicate a zest for living. The idea that you and I can improve our well-being and lengthen our human life span by nurturing such qualities within us can certainly quicken our eagerness to “get up every morning.” It’s decidedly more inspiring to think of one’s apex, or high point, of life as 100 and beyond rather than as 60, 70, 80, or even 90.

Still, this purely material view of life only moves the apex to a later date, a date from which one’s life quality must descend and eventually end. That’s not much of a day brightener! But what if there’s a different high point to consider – a spiritual one – from which there is no descent or end?

Actually, the above-mentioned qualities have a spiritual source – God, who is divine Life itself, and who creates and governs each one of us as His loved spiritual image and likeness. Speaking of God’s, divine Love’s, tender care for us, the Bible assures us: “His compassions fail not. They are new every morning” (Lam. 3:22, 23) and “though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (II Cor. 4:16). Or as Eugene Peterson interprets that last passage in “The Message”: “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.”

When we treasure God’s ever-active development of His spiritual qualities within us, our view of life expectancy shifts from a decades-determined glass ceiling to a never-ending adventure. As Mary Baker Eddy observed, “Starting from a higher standpoint, one rises spontaneously, even as light emits light without effort; for ‘where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’ ” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 262).

This approach not only improves our health and lengthens our days on earth; it keeps us moving consistently upward day by day toward the living of our full potential as God’s spiritual reflection – both here and hereafter.

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Now there’s something to get up for every morning!

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