What my 90-year-old Grandpa has taught me about purposeful living

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During the week of his 90th birthday, my grandpa played 18 holes of golf, 8 days in a row, with his sons. One score was lower than his age. Needless to say, grandpa lives a happy, active, and stimulating life. His mind and body are healthy. Each morning, he greets the blessing of the day with a smile and a plan.

Doing some of his growing up on a farm in Ohio, my grandpa joined the military at the age of 18 during World War II. After the war, he worked hard to attend the United States Military Academy, and eventually earned his PhD in applied physics. In addition to a successful career, he has a loving family and enjoys many friendships.

Grandpa loves routine, and sticking with it keeps him at his best.

On a typical day, he:

1. Measures his and my grandmother’s blood pressure. He records this on a spreadsheet he keeps on his computer.

2. Writes in a daily journal.

3. Enjoys a cup of coffee with a light breakfast of fruit and whole grain cereal, while reading the newspaper.

4. During 6-7 months of the year for 6 days each week, he either heads to the golf course and plays a round of golf with his friends, or swims for an hour in his backyard pool.

5. Eats lunch, home cooked (thanks to my grandma). And, he often helps with the kitchen chores.

6. Completes his chores for the day, which includes yard work, finance management, or errands.

7. Takes an afternoon nap.

8. Completes the daily crossword puzzle, reads a book, or catches up with his spouse. He usually does this while enjoying the view on his back patio.

9. Dines on a home cooked dinner, made from mostly unprocessed ingredients. My grandmother makes it a rule to offer at least two types of veggies at dinner.

10. Watches the news and speaks to his extended family over the phone before heading to bed.

So, what can we learn from this routine? Below are some observations I’ve made about my grandfather’s lifestyle that might help you lead to a valuable, purposeful, and healthy life.

Relationships matter to my grandfather. He has a very close relationship with his spouse, my grandmother. And, my grandpa maintains friendships and connects regularly with his family, especially with his three children.

The fact that my grandfather appreciates and upholds his daily routine shows that he finds purpose and intention in his daily activities. Even the daily routine of taking his blood pressure shows his commitment to health. And, he has kept current with technology and records his blood pressure on a digital spreadsheet.

Exercising most days of his life, Grandpa shows that daily physical activity is essential. In his younger years, he participated in sports like squash, golf, swimming, and baseball. And—he enjoys the activities. It gives him a social outlet (golfing with friends), and a time for reflection (laps in the pool).

My grandfather completes daily chores, converses daily with family members, catches up with his life partner, and enjoys a round of golf with his friends. He contributes as an active member of his family and community. This perpetuates a feeling of purpose, and generates a sense of belonging and value.

My grandpa stimulates his mind. Whether it is keeping up with technology, solving a daily puzzle, reading, watching sports, or following the news, he is consistently developing. Valuing education, he knows the importance of keeping his mind sharp.

My grandfather’s health goes a long way because his meals consist mostly of home cooked foods. My grandmother, who cooks the majority of his meals, has a food philosophy that emphasizes balance. She ensures that fruits and vegetables are always in the house and offered at meals. In fact, she makes it a rule to offer at least two veggies at dinner.

With his daily naps, quiet activities (reading, crosswords), and journal writing, my grandpa takes time to rest and reflect. And, while he has not always napped every afternoon, he shows a lifelong commitment to rest and reflection as a part of a healthy life.

He enjoys the outdoor environment. Living near a nature preserve, my grandfather enjoys a backyard full of wildlife and native plants. He spends a number of hours each day being active outside, and also enjoying nature from his back patio.

The way my grandfather celebrates his life can teach us a lot about living a long valuable one. And, I am lucky that he has imparted many of the lessons he’s learned to his grandchildren.

What lessons have you learned from a grandparent or older friend that have helped you live a valuable, purposeful, and healthy life? Tell us by commenting below!

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