We are always fans of those who have figured out how to age well and we always want to learn a few things from them. Here’s a fine example:
The Philadelphia Enquirer recently published a piece about Murray Shusterman, a 101 year old working Philadelphia lawyer who has been practicing law since 1936. The article reports that “his mind is sharp, even if his hearing has dulled. His love for the law still shines.”
Here’s what I gleaned about Mr. Shusterman’s long life. He hasn’t set them out as instructions for us, but in studying how the oldest old who do well and remain independent there are features in common with most of them. Here’s a summary:
1. The happiest and most productive centenarians are very engaged in life. They all have a record of past or current involvement in their communities. For Murray, it was everything from serving as counsel to the Commission on Human Relations and helping write city laws on fair housing and employment to involvement with his alma mater, Temple University. He has been deeply involved as a leader in many Jewish causes.
2. They face difficulty with stubborn determination. Murray’s son, Robert Shusterman an architect and lawyer is quoted as saying of his father, “He keeps pushing himself as hard as he can, and tries not to complain about things. He has a determination, a will to overcome impediments.”
3. They are generous with their time and assets. In 1994 Murray and his family gave $1 million to Temple Law School for the renovation of Park Hall, which reopened as Murray H. Shusterman Hall. Last year, Shusterman did more – donating $1.1 million to Temple Law to sponsor a professorship.“His commitment and generosity have been an inspiration,” law school dean JoAnne Epps is quoted as saying at the time.
4. They share their wisdom. Shusterman taught law as an adjunct professor for more than three decades, served on the university board of trustees, and in 1992 was elected an honorary, lifetime trustee.
5. They don’t take themselves too seriously. Here’s what Murray had to say to the reporter when asked about his best and worst experiences in life:
“A person has many experiences over time, some good, some bad. . . . The real secret is to be decent, to be fair, and to be forgiving – now and then even a friend will do something that annoys you. And don’t take yourself too seriously.”
6. They stay active. Murray describes himself as being active all his life. He played golf until age 100. He is the father of 3 sons and had a long marriage, widowed in 2005. He doesn’t, from the stories about him, strike one as a couch potato.
The story of Murray is not about what to eat or what exercise to do. It is about much broader concepts and a philosophy of life. Yes, he is surely blessed with good genes. Science tells us that our genetic makeup is only about 30% responsible for how we age. The rest is how we live our lives, how we spend our time. Lifestyle is responsible for the other 70% of how we age. I’d say Murray Shusterman is doing a fabulous job on how he lives his life, wouldn’t you?
I was inspired by Murray and hope you are too. Even if you pick only one of the above six things he does and do more of it, you just might increase your chances of a longer, healthier life.
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