Julia "Hurricane" Hawkins didn't start running until a few years ago -- when she was 100 years old. She broke a record at age 101, clocking the 100-meter dash in 39.62 seconds.

Now 103, Hawkins recently ran the 100-meter dash again in the National Senior Games. Though her time was a few seconds slower, she holds the title of the oldest woman to compete on an American track.

"I'm two years older, remember?" she told New York Times. 

In an interview with the Times, Hawkins shared her advice for living a long and happy life. 

Look for and savor magic moments

Hawkins says she keeps her eyes open for those stop-and-smell-the-roses moments. "Think of the things that are magic moments that happen to you, like sunsets and sunrises, rainbows, beautiful birds, music, and people's lovely comments to you," she says. 

Those magic moments are free. But you'll miss them if you don't look out for them. 

In Yale's science-backed class on happiness, this exact exercise is one of the homework assignments. A student who practiced savoring these fleeting moments said it boosted his sense of awe in the world around him. It's also why keeping a gratitude journal is good practice. 

Keep your friendships strong

Almost every single day, Hawkins says she goes out to lunch with friends. Science regularly proves that having a strong social network is important to your overall well-being. A recent study found that a strong social circle was a better predictor of someone's happiness and well-being than fitness tracker data.

Keep moving

"Keep yourself in good shape if you can," Hawkins says. Before she became a 100-meter dash champion, Hawkins competed in the Senior Olympics as a biker. She turned to running when it became too challenging to bike up hills. 

Now, she just aims to keep moving around. Hawkins goes on daily walks. She doesn't train that much for her races. "As I get older, I feel like I only have so many 100-yard dashes left, and I don't want to waste them in practice," she says. 

Find your passions

"Keep interested in a lot of things to keep you busy and keep your mind busy," she advises. Even if you don't find your passion in work (which is terrible advice anyway), find hobbies that bring you joy.

Hawkins enjoys reading and has been able to keep up her hobby as her eyesight has deteriorated by listening to books. She's also an avid gardener. She lives on an acre of land and cares for bonsai plants, tending to them every day. ​

Published on: Jun 26, 2019
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