When Andy Anderson reached 100 years old, it’s fair to say that he’d spent more time on the planet than most. Anderson’s great-granddaughter believed, too, that what the centenarian had learned over the years was worth sharing with the world. And, in fact, some of the pearls of wisdom that he’d acquired in that time proved to be extremely poignant. So, according to Anderson, what exactly should you do – and what should you not do – in order to live a long and happy life?
Macy Cate Williams is the senior’s great-granddaughter, and she lives in San Francisco, California. Williams also works as an editor and typically writes about lifestyle topics such as fitness, fashion and beauty. In 2015, though, she delivered a more profound article to readers of the PopSugar website – and this came in the form of some home truths from her elderly relative.
The piece in question was entitled “25 Life Lessons Written by a 100-Year-Old Man.” And, of course, the centenarian referenced in the title was Anderson – or as his loved one affectionately calls him, “Grandpa Cheese.” In Williams’ opinion, you see, her great-grandfather had enjoyed a life well-lived, and as such she thought that he could impart some invaluable advice to readers.
Of course, there was nothing revolutionary about Williams’ thinking, as young people have often looked to “wiser” older generations for guidance. Seniors have spent longer on Earth, after all, and have therefore probably picked up a trick or two for navigating life’s often bumpy path.
Indeed, the internet is awash with articles in which older people dole out their knowledge to younger readers. It seems, then, that advice – like a good wine – only gets better with age. And if that’s the case, then centenarians should have plenty of good tips to share.
It’s a fair assumption, too, that 100-year-olds must be doing something right to live to such a ripe old age. Taking this into consideration, it’s unsurprising that other folks want to receive their guidance. And often it’s the little things to which seniors tend to attribute their successes.
Indeed, some people who live long and fruitful lives often chalk up their old age to completely unexpected factors. For instance, Brooklyn resident Susannah Mushatt Jones – who became the world’s oldest person in 2015 – put her longevity down to her daily consumption of at least four strips of bacon.
Similarly, just prior to her 105th birthday in 2010, Agnes Fenton revealed the secret to her own long life. Apparently, she told reporters that she had been drinking “three cans of Miller High Life a day and a shot of good booze at 5:00 p.m.” since 1943 – supposedly on the advice of a doctor. And, ultimately, she died in 2017 at the age of 112.
Fellow centenarian Ephraim Engleman also flouted typical health advice, and he was still practicing as a doctor at 100 years old. In 2011 he told NBC, “Exercise, to me, is totally unnecessary. I think it’s mostly overrated.” Engleman also said, “The use of vitamins? Forget it. And I don’t encourage going to a lot of doctors, either.”
However, while some centenarian advice may seem outrageous, other 100-year-olds have advocated more simplistic approaches to life. And unlike Engleman, many older people cite regular exercise as a factor in their longevity. Having a positive outlook was also often seen as beneficial to those who’d been on the planet for more than a century.
That seemed to be the opinion of Lucille Boston, who turned 100 in 2013. Speaking to her local Tennessee newspaper, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, she said, “Life is fun. It’s all up to the person. Be satisfied. You don’t have to be ‘happy’ all the time, but you need to be satisfied. And love people.”
So given the wealth of advice from centenarians out there on the internet, did Williams’ great-grandfather have anything new to offer? Well, the editor certainly seemed to think so – not least because she held her elderly relative in such high esteem. And as a consequence, Williams shared 25 of Anderson’s top tips for living with the readers of PopSugar.
Before doling out Anderson’s sage advice, though, Williams provided a little background information on her beloved great-grandfather – all explaining, perhaps, why she thought his wisdom was worth listening to. Most notably, she revealed how her relative had seen plenty of success during his time on Earth.
Williams first introduced her readers to Anderson by writing, “My great-grandfather is 100 years old, and living a century has taught him a thing or two.” In fact, she felt that he was so interesting that she went on to claim, “Andy Anderson’s life story is one for the big screen.” She backed that bold assertion up, though, with some important facts.
To begin with, Williams explained how Anderson had found the love of his life after a whirlwind romance. She revealed, “He met my great-grandmother on a Saturday, and they married on the following Saturday. They stayed together until my grandma took her last breath 67 years later.”
Anderson’s marriage proved to be fruitful, too. Williams explained, “In between those 67 years, [my great-grandfather and great-grandmother] had two children, adopted another son and were the greatest party throwers in the county (we have the pictures to prove it).” But the centenarian’s family life was just one of his achievements.
In addition, Williams revealed that Anderson was very much a self-made man. She wrote, “Without going to college, [he] worked his way to the top; he became the corporate manager of the dairy department of Safeway for the entire country.” Perhaps, then, this link to dairy gave the senior his pet name.
In her PopSugar piece, Williams revealed, “[Anderson] earned the nickname Mr. Cheese, which eventually turned into Grandpa Cheese among the family – a name that has admittedly gotten a few brow-raises.” Nevertheless, according to the editor, her great-grandfather’s wisdom should be taken seriously.
Explaining the reasoning behind her article, Williams wrote, “My point is: Grandpa Cheese has taught me a lot about life. I could think of no better person to give the world a few life lessons than him.” And from there, she chose to share some of Anderson’s advice with the wider world.
Yes, without any further ado, Williams launched into her great-grandfather’s tips – listing them in ascending order from numbers one through 25. And while some of his words of wisdom are things that he feels have worked for him, others are general pointers from which all of us could probably learn.
First up, Anderson seems to back up that old adage that says laughter is the best medicine. You see, his number one piece of advice is to “always maintain a good sense of humor.” Similarly, further down the list, he also recommends that readers “find something comical in every single situation.”
Anderson additionally suggests possessing some humility, advising, “Never be too good to start at the bottom.” Indeed, while beginning from scratch can seem disheartening, the lessons you learn from that point on may prove invaluable. And Anderson should know; after all, he worked his way up the ranks to become a corporate manager at Safeway without a college education.
Furthermore, Anderson’s keen work ethic was on display in his seventh piece of life advice. He claimed, “Having a bad job is better than having no job at all.” In this tip, it may appear as though the great-grandfather is advocating staying in a job even if it makes you unhappy; perhaps, though, he’s simply urging people to be thankful for the opportunities they have.
In any case, Anderson appeared to clarify his advice about work with a tip that explained, “Make sure you’re doing what you love; don’t be afraid to follow those dreams you have for yourself.” So, while he believed any job was better than none, he also agreed that it was sometimes necessary to take a risk and reach for the stars.
Through his own esteemed career, Anderson had certainly learned a thing or two. And he imparted one of these lessons to his great-granddaughter to share with her readers. Anderson said, “Your life is delicate, and if you neglect yourself, you’ll spoil. That’s what cheese taught me.”
However, while Anderson was seemingly proud of the things that he’d accomplished through hard work, his career had not been the pinnacle of his existence. Instead, the centenarian hinted that his greatest achievement had been much closer to home by saying, “Your family is the most precious thing you will ever have in life.”
Anderson also cited the importance of being willing to learn – even if it didn’t happen through conventional avenues. He explained, “Education is important but not necessary. Life can be an education in itself.” Nevertheless, he praised the power of “common sense,” stating, “Think about the most reasonable answer to every situation. If you don’t have common sense, you’re a bust.”
Elsewhere in Williams’ article, Anderson recommended that while people ought to deal with their dilemmas head-on, they shouldn’t become too preoccupied with things they couldn’t solve. He said, “If you’re faced with a problem, don’t delay trying to figure it out. But if there’s no way to figure it out, you have to forget about it.”
Anderson then suggested that keeping fit was key in living to old age. He said, “Exercise every single day, even when you don’t feel like it.” That’s nothing new, of course, as experts have long professed the benefits that physical activity has on our health. Even so, there’s no harm in being reminded of this every now and then.
Anderson also covered diet in his advice, suggesting that we should all be drinking “orange juice every day.” However, the other snippet of nutritional guidance that he provided wasn’t quite as conventional. He added, “Eat sausage every day – it worked for me.”
Another useful nugget that Anderson offered up to Williams and her readers had to do with living within one’s means. Putting it simply, he said, “Don’t spend more money than you make.” This is indeed the best way to avoid getting into any financial issues or debt.
And in a later piece of advice, Anderson may have shown his age when he urged people to “eat around the mold; don’t go wasting food.” You see, as the senior was 100 years old at the time of the article’s publication, that means he was likely born in or around 1915 – 14 years before the start of the Great Depression.
The Great Depression lasted until the late 1930s and is widely considered to be one of the worst periods of economic downturn in modern times. As a teenager growing up during that decade, then, Anderson would have been all too aware of the hardships facing many American families. And perhaps that included his own, too.
During those tough times, families tried to come up with ways to make their food go further. Consequently, Anderson’s advice to not throw anything edible away may be the product of his experience growing up during that period of economic downturn. And if it’s good enough for him, then maybe it’s good enough for us.
But fighting food waste wasn’t the only frugal advice that Anderson dished out. He urged, “Save your money now and spend it later.” He similarly had a sage style tip to any shopaholics out there, saying, “Everyone has too many clothes. Wear what you have and quit buying more.”
Anderson also provided some pointers on matters of the heart. Clearly an old romantic himself, he stated, “Love at first sight is not a fable.” Indeed, his whirlwind romance with his wife suggests, potentially, that this had happened to him. Still, he advised some caution, adding, “Love is not always easy; sometimes you have to work at it.”
And many of Anderson’s words of advice took the form of short, snappy instructions that he believed had contributed to his longevity. These included the pithy “Don’t ever be afraid to be your true self,” “You must be able to forgive even if it’s difficult to do,” “Explore your world and stay curious” and “Try not to take yourself so seriously.”
But Anderson arguably saved his most poignant piece of advice to last. His final instruction read, “Life is a gift that you must unwrap. It’s up to you to determine if what’s inside will lead you to happiness or dismay. You have the power to make that decision for yourself.”
That said, it seems that Anderson may have been predisposed to having a unique outlook on life. How? Well, it’s all down to the moniker that his parents gave him 100 years ago. He explained, “My full name is William Bradford James Anderson, and my initials always remind me to ask myself, ‘Why be just anybody?’”
So why should we listen to Anderson’s advice? Well, according to Williams, he was still living the life of Riley at the grand old age of 100. The writer revealed, “If you’re wondering what Grandpa Cheese is up to these days, he’s riding his motorized scooter around Benicia, CA, and ‘planning on what I’m going to do when I start to get old,’ he says.”