She has given up the keys to her car and now uses a walker to get around—but at 102-years old, Gladys McGarey, MD, is still sharp as a whip. And the pioneering homeopathic doctor has just released a book titled The Well-Lived Life: A 102-year-od Doctor’s Six Secrets to Health and Happiness at Every Age. In it, she shares her hard-earned wisdom, and regardless of your age, there’s a lesson or two in it for you.
While I won’t go into all the “six secrets” mentioned in the title, I do want to touch on a few of the lessons she teaches, including what I believe to be the most important one. It’s Dr. Gladys’ belief that each one of us—you, me, your neighbor across the street—is here for a reason. And that reason can be the key to our health and happiness. We are here “to connect with our unique gifts” and as we learn and grow as humans, we are to share these gifts with others.
To find our gifts, we must first find “our juice.”
“Juice” is something Dr. Gladys mentions again and again and she’s not talking about the breakfast beverage. To her, juice is the creative energy that animates us, the activity, cause, or people, or a combination of all three, that make us feel alive. It is vitally important that we find it, because as Dr. Gladys states:
Even when it seems as though we have everything, we have nothing without juice. Living without juice is an emptiness, a listlessness. It’s not quite clinical depression, but it’s not quite being alive, either. It just feels bad.
There’s a direct connection between our juice and a life filled with purpose. When we feel the juice running through our veins, we feel truly alive and more connected to the people and the world around us. This has a profound effect not only on our mental health, but on our physical health, too. (She points to studies that show a link between a higher sense of purpose and decreased mortality in adults over 50, as well as a lower risk of cardiovascular events.)
She also believes that age is not a barrier to finding our purpose, but in fact, helps us. As each year goes by, we become more connected to our reason for being here. She wonders, “What if instead of chasing youth and lost time, we could embrace the aging process? Growing older is no longer about compensating for lost or weakened capacities but rather about getting closer to embracing who we are meant to be.”
Can’t find your juice? She’s got some advice.
Finding your juice is not always easy. Dr. Gladys points out that “sometimes finding our juice pushes us to go through a transition in life. This may require us to make a change, start doing something new, or stop doing something we’ve done for quite some time.” We need to figure out what’s working in our lives, what’s not working, and what might be missing. The doctor asks us to honestly assess:
What’s keeping you going right now? Understanding where your life is moving and where it is blocked is essential to knowing where to spend your energy. If something is stagnant, put your energy toward what is moving. Don’t waste your energy on what’s stuck.
We also can’t blindly follow the status quo or what society expects of us. Dr. Gladys cautions us not to be led by what everyone else is doing because when we “do what we think we ‘should,’ or create an identity for ourselves that doesn’t work, we suffer.” She instructs us to:
Find one small thing that brings you joy and let yourself be grateful for it. This will give you the courage you need to go on.
Three more compelling teachings from Doctor Gladys.
I’ve edited the words of Dr. Gladys below but kept the intent of her message.
You’ve got to keep moving.
Your health challenges are part of your journey. And while you might be dealing with either emotional or physical pain, you’ve got to keep moving. All life needs to move. It can be hard to get moving when you’re depressed or in great pain. But even though it may hurt, movement is part of the solution to pain. Note: Even though Dr. Gladys now uses a walker, she gets a minimum of 3,800 steps in each day.
Lean into what you love.
Our collective life purpose is to learn how to move past fear and into love. When you do this, you not only activate our own juice, you help others do the same. Love is infinitely stronger than fear—always. Love is always worth your energy. Always. Lean into what you love, whom you love, how you love. A fearless person … a person who approaches life with an open heart … is an inspiration to everyone else around them.
Everything is your teacher.
There’s a lesson in everything. Life is always trying to show us something. It’s communicating to us through the events, people, and ideas that show up in our lives. This is part of the point of life—to learn, to grow, to evolve, in response to our experiences. We’re called to embrace the wild rhythm in our souls and seek out the reason we are here in each moment, finding what juices us—and offering our life force to that.