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Aging

A Remarkable Woman's Secret to Longevity

W. Jeanne Calment was born in Arles, France, on February 21, 1875. She died in the town she grew up in at the age of 122 years, five months and two weeks.

What was her secret of longevity? It wasn't the lack of what might be called bad habits. She ate an average of two pounds of chocolate every week. She enjoyed wine and didn't quit smoking until she was 117 years old.

What she did do was approach life with raw enthusiasm. In her youngest days she studied the piano and attended the opera. She swam in cool lakes and rivers and biked and hiked across the French countryside.

In 1896 she married at the age of 21 and began a family. Her only child, a daughter, passed over in 1934. Jeanne and her husband accepted the responsibility of raising the eight year old boy. She experienced her share of grief as her husband died in 1942 and her grandson passed away in 1960.

But Jeanne continued to approach life as a daily experience. She bicycled to her 100th birthday party. After the party she walked from house to house to thank each of her friends for attending the party.

According to her biographer, Jean-Marie Robine, she did not worry about things she had no control over, often saying, "If you can't do anything about it, don't worry about it". These were words she lived by. In an interview she responded to a question about her mental aptitude by stating, "When you're 117, see if you remember everything."

This sharp sense of humor never left her. One of famous one-liners was about the fact that she used only olive oil on her face. "I have only one wrinkle and I'm sitting on it!"

What was her secret for longevity?

It was maintaining an interest in life, exercising, managing stress, good friendships and a delightful sense of humor.

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