America’s Oldest Living Person Turns 115 Today. Her Life Motto Is Classic And Powerful. What’s Yours?

picture of Jeralean Talley

Jeralean Talley was born on May 23, 1899…115 years ago!  She is one of only a handful of (known) people still alive today to have experience the 19th, 20th, and 21st century.  She has seen a lot.

Recently activities of Talley’s have included the following: she bowled until she was 104, went fishing consistently up until last year, and now watches TV and plays with her 14 month old great-great-grandson.

Experts say that only about 1 in 5 million people living in the U.S. become a supercentenarian–a person who lives to be 110 or older.  Talley is the second oldest person in the world behind Misao Okawa of Japan (below) who is 116.

Misao Okawa

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When asked why she has lived so long, Talley’s response has always been the same: “It’s all in the good Lord’s hands,” she said. “There’s nothing I can do about it.”  She is clearly the opposite of a control-hound.

Furthermore, Talley’s life motto is the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. 

This is the type of motto that can truly change the world and lead to a healthy life.  Countless studies have shown that when people help others, the human brain secretes a chemical known as “helpers high” that tangibly leads to healthier and happier moments and lifestlyes. In fact, it is contagious: “helper’s high” not only positively impacts the helper but contagiously spreads to the person being helped.  One of the classic examples of this is the fabled Ebenezer Scrooge.  As the quintessential grumpiest and sourest of men, Scrooge discovers the joy of helping people and is transformed.  As the story goes, a merrier and happier man had never been seen. His impact was lasting.  This is the smallest snapshot of the physiological and social power of the Golden Rule.  Having a motto matters.

So whether it is the fact that Talley lives holding on loosely (in a good way) to her own life or that she strives to treat others well, she is clearly doing something right that we can all learn from.


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