Today’s Brilliance from Elsa Brehm Hoffman

If I could share 500 words to inspire, this is the important wisdom I'd want to pass along to others...

  • As I age, people ask more and more, “What are your secrets?” People can see I try to take reasonable care of myself, am an eternal optimist, and love being with people daily.

    These are some of the all-important basics that are simple things, yet have incredible impact on how well and how long one lives. Since scientists now say that longevity is only about 25% genetics, there are other things at work.

    It is imperative to keep your spirits up, especially through difficult times. I have seen many economies, for example, including The Great Depression, and “this too shall pass.” Everyone responds to different things, but perhaps these ideas will help:

    Like unwinding a tangled ball of twine, take one step at a time to resolve any challenges or tasks that need to be accomplished. Know that you are not the only one when there are difficulties. Get help if needed. Just do something.

    During The Great Depression, my husband and I used our own funds and a government program to help us make apartments in a building we had into smaller more affordable ones. We filled the building and helped others. You’ll feel such relief to just take the first step to get some help and direction.

    It may be hard to hear right now, but know with confidence that your difficulties not only make you stronger, but they prepare you for better things you may not be able to envision right now.

    For example, my husband Bill and I dreamed of owning and operating a seasonal resort in our favorite place, the Adirondacks. Bill developed terrible bronchitis in the winter, so we had to concentrate on his health first. I made the plans for us to start going from New York to south Florida seasonally; he felt so much better within a few days. Our resort dream moved to south Florida. It was better than we imagined.

    Become an adapter. I enjoyed new modern conveniences like television. Refrigerators that did not need ice to keep them cold were a terrific new item to adjust to, also. Nevertheless, adapting also means doing some things you may not find as pleasurable at first.

    Harder economic times affect just about everybody. If you are just soaking up all of that and feeling lost, you need to pick yourself up and make a new plan. Downsize your home? Get a job? Simplify your life? I promise you, the changes will comfort you in time. Some say the one good thing about bad economic times is that it puts the focus back on family and less on excesses and always rushing around.

    Find happy thoughts. Release negativity. Appreciate. I just think of beautiful memories and that lifts me up. Be kind to others. Forgive someone. Pray. Do all you can to resolve any matter bothering you, then let it alone and move on. You know you can always find something happy to remember, to look forward to, or do right now.

    Elsa Brehm Hoffmann

    Elsa was born October 11, 1907, in Yonkers, New York. As a young girl, she worked at her parents' bakery supplies business and took business courses at school. Marrying at age 18, Elsa assisted with her husband's roofing business and they raised a family together (four children). Later they had a seasonal motel resort business in Florida and updated real estate properties. They called them their 3 "R's": roofing, resort, and real estate careers. Elsa says her husband always encouraged and supported her with her business ideas, such as remodeling an apartment building, a diner, and a bakery. Always involved with social, family and charitable activities, Elsa never has had a lack of things to do even after her retirement - even now at age 101. It's difficult to even say she is fully retired, though, since Elsa has flipped condos well into her senior years, and would do so again for the right opportunity! She drives (got a new car for her 100th birthday!), lives independently, and does her own banking. Once Elsa revealed her age at a 90th birthday, attention grew as people were amazed at her looks and activities for a woman of that age. By the time she was 99 and about to turn 100, she got the attention of Barbara Walters after a two year search by the ABC network and the National Centenarian Awareness Project to find the best role models of centenarians in America. Elsa was interviewed on Voice of America (March, 2009) and Dr. Michael Brickey's "Ageless Lifestyles" radio show (twice). She is a natural with the media! As outgoing as she was, however, at one point Elsa was starting to feel embarrassed by all the attention. Loved ones and dear friends convinced her that her example is so inspiring that by sharing her philosophies, she is helping others. Elsa loves to make people happy, so she has gladly let it all ride and is having a blast doing so. The recent book release of Elsa's Own Blue Zone - America's Centenarian Sweetheart's Insights for Positive Aging and Living, written by Elsa's biographer granddaughter Sharon Textor-Black, was a great joy to Elsa as a way to share her "secrets" with everyone near and far. Elsa passed away in 2012.

    For more information, please visit adlercentenarians.org.

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