Muriel Cooper
Psychologist in Mornington

Happiness and success

Sophie Jack at 96

My mother passed away recently at the age of 98. Her name was Sophia Charlotte Waring Jack. She was bright and feisty right to the end and this was, I believe, largely due to her 'Rules for Living'. She did not call them that; I have collected them and put them into a list to pass on to you. They're good for any age.

  1. Use your brain. Sophie quoted her father often, who used to constantly say 'God gave you a brain, use it!' She firmly believed in the 'use it or lose it' principle. For example, while she was waiting to go to sleep, she would:
    • Do her times tables
    • Count backwards from 100 by 3, 4, 6, 7 etc.
    • Go through the alphabet and put a girl's name to every letter, then a boy's name. She would try to pick different names each time.
  2. Go for a walk every day. "You've got to move", she would say. In her later years she had a walker she called her 'chariot'. As long as she had that she could walk anywhere. She could walk without it but had limited eyesight. She especially enjoyed nature and would sit outside whenever she could.
  3. Give yourself an encouraging talk in the mirror every day. Every morning she would look in the mirror “How're you going Sophie?" she would ask herself “Come on old thing – smile! You're beautiful!".
  4. Say yes to invitations "even if you don't feel like it". Sophie understood the value of human company.
  5. Eat right. Even if she had no appetite, she would make sure she ate. She also took multivitamins and fish oil.
  6. Be interested in what's going on. She could not read because she developed macular degeneration – but she listened to talk radio and watched documentaries. She was very opinionated. She did not want a letter from the Queen if she turned 100, because she was a republican!
  7. Listen. She would often say “You can learn more by listening than talking". She remained interested in others.
  8. Be positive. Sophie hardly ever complained. "I'm fine!" was her response to "How are you?" She was assertive in asking for help when she needed it.
  9. Have a sense of humour. "You're got to laugh" she'd say. She made others laugh as often as she could and was cheeky and charming.
  10. Remember, even if your memory isn't that great you've still got your marbles. Sophie's memory could be quite dodgy and often the same question would be asked a couple of times in a row. But if you followed her advice and listened, the conversation would sparkle.

People loved being around Sophie and she was quite content. She went into care only months before she died. 'Sophie's Rules for Living' contributed a great deal to this. She would be 'chuffed' to think these principles could be of help to others.

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