A Centenarian's Advice on Health and Happiness
On April 2, 2017, Olive Myhre turned 105 years old. She was born in 1912 in Gilbert Plains, Manitoba, the 4th of 7 children, and the only girl among her siblings. She was married in 1934 and had 2 children. She and her husband Cyrus Myhre pastored in various communities throughout Western Canada. In the 1940’s, Rev. Myhre was also Principal of the Atlantic School of Theology, where Mrs. Myhre was Dean of Women.
Olive has lived through events that most of us only read about in history books, including two World Wars; the introduction of the automobile, the invention of the computer; and man’s first steps on the moon. I had the honour of speaking with Olive the day after her birthday, and was able to learn about her life and her perspective on health and happiness. Olive was given a set of Integrate Desk Pedals for her birthday to allow her to stay active while sitting. Amazingly, she was using her new desk pedals the entire time we spoke. Here is our interview.
Hello Olive. Happy birthday! May I ask you some questions?
OK, but only if they aren’t too hard!
You were born in 1912. What has changed the most for you in the past 105 years?
There were no cars when I was a child in Gilbert Plains.
It was a big occasion when the town pharmacist bought a car. When he moved back to England, he sold the car to my father. Well! Everyone thought we were so rich!
I must have been about 9 years old. The gravel roads in our town were not meant for cars, only horses, so it wasn’t easy to drive, but oh my! It was wonderful to have a ride in that car!
What is your secret to living to 105 years?
I am a preacher’s wife. We spent many years starting up ministries across Western Canada. For me, spending time with people, and keeping in touch with them over many years, has helped to keep me focused and positive, and given me an important purpose in my life. So, my secret is to surround yourself with people who you care for.
I guess I would also say that every day I get up with a purpose. I get out of bed, I get dressed. I make plans. There is no sitting around, I like to stay active.
Also, I take cod liver oil. When I was in my 20’s, a doctor told me to take cod liver oil. So I did, and I’ve never stopped. I still take it, but now I take it in pills.
Is exercise a part of your daily life? Has exercise always been a part of your daily life?
When I was a child, we lived a mile and a quarter from town, so we used to walk everywhere. I have always been a walker, still enjoy walking. I have walked independently until about 2 years ago, when I got my first walker, which allows me to continue walking with support. A few times each week, I walk to the store, and stop for a tea. In the evenings, I go downstairs to play games with other members of our community. Just yesterday, I beat my grandson at a game of Skipbo.
How would you describe your diet?
I’m not a big eater, but I’ve always tried to be healthy. I don’t eat a lot of meat, usually just a taste. I eat soup with every meal, which is filled with nutrients and vegetables. I take Vitamin C and D. And again, cod liver oil (laugh).
I also have a sweet tooth and love chocolate.
We’ve talked about physical health. How about mental health? How do you stay so positive?
I read my bible every day. I pray. I try to remember that there is something positive in every experience. Even when something is difficult, I try to I remember that there is a lesson hidden in there for me. I remember that everyone has something good in them.
Note from Olive's grandson Ron: "Grandma has a cheery disposition and she always finds something positive to say about other people. She never, ever speaks against other people."
I’m going to give you some options, and I’d like to you tell me your answer. Which do you prefer?
Salty or sweet? Sweet
Summer or winter? Summer
Sunshine or thunderstorms? Sunshine, always!
Christmas or Easter? I love both. Both are a nice time to get together with family.
Coffee or tea? Tea - black tea with a little milk. My husband used to only drink black coffee. He used to say “Coffee doesn’t need help, and nothing can help tea.” We were always opposite when it came to our coffee and tea.
City or country? I was born in the prairies, but I now love to be in the city. I really love to be around people, and there are more people in the city.
What is your favourite colour?
Red, but I look pretty in pink.
What advice do you have for others about how to live a happy, healthy life?
Give your heart to the Lord when you’re young. Read the bible every day. Take cod liver oil.
How do you feel about these Desk Pedals?
They are good for exercise. I think it is good for me to pedal like this. I’ve never used anything like it before, I don’t use exercise machines, but they are very easy to use. I’m sitting in my chair, and yet I’m moving my legs. I really like them!
Thank you so much to Olive for agreeing to speak with me! It was an honour to speak with Olive. I am struck by her kind and positive nature, and I am in awe that she is so sharp and astute at the age of 105.
Now, I’m off to go buy some cod liver oil.