When Shirley Goodman reached the milestone age of 100 years old, the last thing on her mind was slowing down.
And the centenarian, who lives in Florida, has shared her advice for living a long and happy life – though what she had to say has taken many by surprise.
Rather than stressing the importance of getting enough rest and following a strict diet, as we so often hear, Shirley believes her passion for having fun, doing what she enjoys, and eating her share of well-deserved treats to be the secret of her success.
As Shirley told Today, “I feel great. 100 is just a number to me.”
This is despite the two open-heart surgeries she has undergone – including a bypass, and the installation of a pacemaker and a stent. Shirley also experiences difficulties with her vision and her hearing, but nothing will keep her from embracing life and doing what she loves: dancing.
“My legs are still working,” she said. “I’m an optimist. I try to do positive thinking all the time. That’s very important. I have a bracelet that says ‘Positivity’ on it.
“I wear it every day and I try to stay positive.”
She started dancing when she was just eight years old, even opening up her own dance school at 17. And while she did close down her business after marrying, she never gave it up, following her heart – and her dancing feet – in her free time instead.
And in recent years, Shirley has taken that same passion to a whole new realm, establishing herself on the internet as ‘The Dancing Nana’. On Instagram, her family regularly share clips of Shirley dancing, and even participating in some viral internet trends, from doing ‘the floss dance’ to ‘the Tush Push’.
It was the latter that propelled her to viral heights in 2019, when a clip surfaced of a then-96-year-old Shirley enjoying herself at her nephew’s wedding reception, outshining the younger guests on the dance floor with her spectacular footwork and twirls.
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“I would advise people,” she told Today, “if they like music at all, to keep it in their lives and don’t just sit home in a rocking chair.”
“I attribute [my long life] mostly to two things. One is my family,” she later added, “I have a wonderful, devoted family.
“And the jazz, the music down here in Sarasota, and my tap dancing. That’s what keeps me going.”
And while Shirley has dabbled in other pursuits, dancing still holds the key to her heart, as nothing else quite took with her, with the 100-year-old confessing that she “wasn’t crazy” about golf, and played tennis until she was 90.
“I only walk as far as my mailbox,” she added, “which is about five minutes.”
She does, however, enjoy her share of yoga. Every morning, she FaceTimes her daughter for a session, and the two spend some mindful time together from their respective homes in Florida and New York.
Another thing Shirley very much enjoys is a sweet treat. And as some longevity experts admitted to Today, many who reach impressive ages like Shirley don’t often focus on their recommended share of vitamins and other ‘healthy’ snacks.
“I don’t eat healthy food,” Shirley admitted. “My kids would holler at me … but when I hit 90, they stopped bothering me.”
As Shirley’s 71-year-old daughter Joan added, they all just assumed Shirley was going to outlive them, but that “you would not want to write a cookbook based on her nutritional recommendations. I think the secret is to enjoy what you’re eating.”
Top of Shirley’s most loved menu is “anything that’s cooked in batter”, or some chocolate and other sweets of the like. She enjoys a piece of chocolate after each of her meals, and views breakfast as the perfect opportunity for a chocolate chip cookie – however, you won’t catch her nibbling on any dark varieties, as milk chocolate with some nuts is what she prefers to reach for.
And when it comes to home cooked meals with some vegetables, Shirley isn’t a fan.
“I say ‘cook’ is a four letter word, so I don’t cook very much,” said. “I eat very small portions, but I eat everything and anything I like.”