PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Frieda Cohen just turned 102. But she is still a youthful fountain of love and wisdom.
We met recently at her home and she shared her secrets on living a long life.
“One of the most important things I would tell them is to be busy, not to lay around watching television, watching sports,” Frieda said. “Sports is fine but that’s only a pastime. Doing, accomplishing, learning — that’s the important thing.”
She has always been busy, working in the auto parts company she and her husband Ben started in 1946, a job she continued doing until she was 98.
“In order to find happiness you have to find it in others. You can’t find it in yourself. If you just keep analyzing yourself there’s nothing there,” she said. “But if you look outside of yourself, if you don’t put yourself out to others, you become so integrated that you don’t see or feel anything.”
There is a tendency as the years pass to look back on what could have been. Frieda said a secret to a long life is always looking ahead to the next best thing.
“If you look back on what’s bad, you’re going to be miserable. If you look forward to what could be better….” she said.
Staying healthy involves more than exercising your body. You must exercise your mind, as well.
“My mother taught us in her Yiddish, ‘When the Lord takes away your brain, let Him take away your soul.’ You have to keep working it.”
There is always a book on her table. Her son, Rick, “brings me 8 to 9 books from the library all the time. Otherwise you smother your own self. This way you have to keep active, keep your mental ability active. That’s one of the most important things.”
“I think she has a great love of the people around her, towards them,” Rick said. “She embraces life. I think that’s really important.”
Out of all the things that contribute to a long life, Frieda said it comes down to the one person she shared most of her life with, her husband Ben.
“This little snapshot was taken on my wedding day and if you look at the way Ben looked at me with the adoration, that never changed,” she said. “My sister snapped this with her Brownie camera. The way Ben looked at me till the day he died — that is the important part of life. If you can put your love and faith in someone else rather than always look to yourself, you’ve gone a long way.”
Frieda Cohen summed it up simply.
“Perhaps the biggest secret to a long life is love.”