Zhouyou Guang just had his 111th birthday, and so far he has lived quite a life. In his younger days, he was a professor of economics and an expert in finance.
After turning 50, he turned his focus on linguistics. In 3 years time, he invented pinyin, the official Romanization standard of Standard Chinese. He is known as the father of the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet. He also met with Albert Einstein on two separate occasions.
Compared to his achievements, his longevity is even more amazing. Books he authored after he was 100 years old have been published, and now at 111 years he insists on continuing his writing.
His mind is very clear and he has good vision. Speaking of his longevity, he sums up five things that can help us all live more than 100 years.
1. People do not die from starvation, but from overeating
I spoke to a medical consultant in Shanghai and he told me that most people are not starved to death, but stuffed to death. As the saying goes: “Diseases come through the mouth.”
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are good examples of this. My diet consists of fresh eggs, vegetables, some dairy, tofu, and two cups of tea, one in the morning, and one in afternoon.
2. Stay calm and don’t get angry
I am not interested in worldly possessions and take everything lightly. Worldly possessions bring suffering. Many years ago, I had insomnia and could not sleep. During the Cultural Revolution, I was sent to the countryside, and that experience cured my insomnia for good.
So my wife and I both believe in “blessings in disguise.” No matter what happens, we stay calm and never get angry or lose sleep over it.
3. Live a simple life
My life is simple: I sleep, eat, read, and write. Every month, I publish an article in the newspaper. I wear simple clothes, I do not travel. I just write at home, drink tea, read, and practice self-cultivation.
I was not very healthy in my younger days: I had TB and also suffered from depression. When I got married, my mother consulted a fortune teller, and he said we would only live to be 35. I think the fortune teller was correct, but since we had changed our lives, our destiny had changed too.
I live a very regular life, and don’t eat what I don’t need. I don’t smoke or drink hard liquor. Let little things slide, so when tough times come, you can easily deal with them.
4. In old age, say ‘no’ to three things
The three things to say no to are: No will, no birthday parties, and no New Year celebrations. Without a will, the whole family will stay harmonious; without a birthday party, I can forget my age; and not celebrating the New Year keeps life calm and peaceful. Daily life should be as simple as possible, as are one’s daily needs.
5. Foster love and respect between spouses
When my wife was alive, she liked to drink tea and I liked coffee. Every time we drank tea and coffee, we would raise our cups and make a toast to each other.
Such a simple act can foster respect between couples; it adds peace and stability to the family. When a couple is harmonious, their hearts stay joyful and healthy.
Translated by Yi Ming.