I'm a 102-Year-Old Doctor. Here's the No. 1 Thing the Healthiest and Happiest People I Know Never Do

Dr. Gladys McGarey

I turned 102 years old this year, and my decades of experience in holistic medicine has taught me a lot about how to live a long, happy and purposeful life.

Too many people feed into unnecessary stress. But the happiest and healthiest people I know are able to let go of things or experiences that are no longer serving them. Life is too short to ruminate and consider same thought over and over again. By doing so, you're essentially torturing yourself.

So, the habit that has brought me health and happiness throughout my years is the ability to build things anew, whether it's a relationship, career path or project.

Let go of things that drain your mental energy

My mom taught me an easy way to release things that don't matter. She would raise her hand gently in front of us, fingers held loosely, palm up. Then swoop it down and back and say, "It doesn't matter."

This natural movement enabled her to live through immense challenges without letting them in too deeply; she just released what wasn't working, refocused on what was important to her, and moved on.

I've adopted this practice for years. I would recognize something that didn't serve me and drop my hand, opening my fingers in a fluid motion to signify its release.

Now that the gesture has become conscious, I realize that there's great empowerment in knowing that whenever I notice something coming toward me, I can choose whether to take it in.

And if it's something I don't want, I consciously give the energy back to wherever it came from.

How to practice letting go

This exercise will work best if you get up and move! Put on some upbeat music and start walking around your house or your neighborhood.

Let your body move loosely and freely as you walk. You may even let yourself dance a little.

1. Identify something that feels stuck in your life.

It could be a friendship, a professional endeavor, a way of thinking, a resentment, and so on. Feel the sense of "stuckness" in your whole body.

2. Imagine that you could hold this stuck thing in your hand.

You may even feel one fist become tight. Hold this tightness. Squeeze your hand.

3. Really let it go.

While still moving, hold your hand out in front of you, palm up, with the fingers together. Then drop it down and back, opening your fingers slightly. As you do so, release the stuckness.

You can think or say words that are meaningful to you: "It doesn't matter," or any similar phrase that works for you.

Once you've let it go, take a moment to appreciate the flow of life moving through you.

The happiest people know when it's time to move on

Everyone faces regret. The question is: How long should we hold on to it?

I don't know what mistakes you've made in the past, but I'd like to suggest that you, too, mostly did the best you could with what you had at the time. If you find yourself living with regret, try to catch it and see what's moving.

Did things mostly turn out all right? If so, be grateful! Is there anything funny about it? If so, laugh! Have you learned anything new since then? If so, enjoy what you now know and express it however you can!

Do whatever you can do to let your regret go — forgive yourself and, if necessary, ask for forgiveness from others — so you can move on with your life.

Dr. Gladys Taylor McGarey, MD, is internationally recognized as the "Mother of Holistic Medicine." She is the co-founder of the American Holistic Medical Association, co-founder of the Academy of Parapsychology and Medicine, and author of "The Well-Lived Life: A 102-Year-Old Doctor's 6 Secrets to Health and Happiness at Every Age." She was the first to utilize acupuncture in the U.S. and trained other physicians how to use it. Follow her on Instagram.

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