I’ve Decided to Live 120 years

Start planning your long, happy life – now!

By Ilchi Lee


I’ve decided to live 120 years. This is the title of the book I recently published. You may think that it sounds audacious or even crazy, but the title reflects a shift in perspective that I believe most people in their 50s and beyond need to make.

Too often, we view life over 55 or 60 as though there is little to live for after that. This way of thinking is an unfortunate waste of potential since — now that people are living longer lives — there is so much that can be done with these years.

Biological research has shown that human cells hold the potential to function and replicate for 120 years — and maybe even longer if assisted by technologies now on the horizon. For many people, living to that age does not sound particularly attractive though, especially if they imagine living in a frail, weakened state with little motivation or passion for life.

Our later years needn’t be this way at all. We can live happily and healthily, right up to our maximum lifespan.

Here are several tips that you can use to start planning your long, happy life, now.

Move Your Body

Aging of the body is inevitable, but we can do much to mitigate the process. Since the practices I teach are rooted in ancient Asian medical models, I always approach physical health from an energetic viewpoint: to keep the body healthy, keep the energy flowing. Miles of jogging and long, sweaty workouts are not necessary. The easiest way is through simple stretching combined with breathing, which helps to keep energy pathways open and flowing.

Another habit I recommend is called “One Minute Exercise.” The idea here is to exercise for just one minute, whenever possible. You can do exercises that make your muscles burn and your heart beat fast like push-ups and jumping jacks or you can do exercises that help you relax and re-center like breathing and yoga. Because it’s only one minute, it’s doable for anyone, even a life-long couch potato, since the one-minute workout can be adjusted to any fitness level. And studies have confirmed that short bursts of exercise are as effective as much longer sessions. Approaching exercise one minute at a time allows people to integrate exercise into their lives so that it becomes a natural part of their daily routine.

Challenge Your Brain

A good attitude is another important part of living a long, healthy life. Change your attitude about getting older, if you have any negative assumptions. Claim you proper identity as elder, and be proud of all the wisdom and experience you have accumulated. Really, living to 120 is not so important, but living with hope and dignity is. Realize your value, and plan for how best to share that with others.

Don’t hesitate to set challenging goals and visions for yourself because you are never too old to be of service and value to this world. The world needs you, and your brain needs challenges to keep active and to keep learning.

Meditation is a good practice that I would recommend to people at any age. Many studies have confirmed that it is excellent for relieving stress, and it can offset some of the cognitive decline that comes with aging, improving focus, memory and creativity. Best of all, people who meditate are happier since meditation promotes a calm state of mind and has been shown to increase serotonin, the hormone associated with happiness and contentment.

Seek Peace and Fulfillment

When we are young, we must think about making our way in the world establishing our reputation, starting a family, and making a living. In our later years, we can switch that outer focus to an inner focus. With children out of the house and fewer job responsibilities, we are free to look inside and complete our spiritual selves. Our true selves, our souls, are now of primary importance.

As you look inside, ask yourself, “Who am I and why am I here?” You’re now old enough to know that lasting answers to these questions can never come through job titles and reputation. By asking yourself this question through quiet, inwardly focused contemplation and meditation, you can come closer and closer to true peace and fulfillment.

The later chapters of your life are just like a novel; it is time to wrap things up and let go of anything that has hurt us. In our elderhood, we are healers of others, but we cannot do that if we have not yet healed ourselves. To accomplish this, I recommend using meditation as a way of quieting and soothing the mind.

Be Determined for Self-Care

The later years of the human lifespan are critically important, whether you live to 60 or 120. By making a conscious choice to live to 120, however, you can develop a self-reliant determination to live well and live long. There is no way that can happen, though, unless you commit yourself take good care of your body, mind and spirit.

If you make that mental shift, you’ll realize that 60, 70, and even 80 years of age is not that old after all.

Editor’s Note: Concepts in this article are taken from New York Times bestselling author Ilchi Lee’s newest book, “I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years: The Ancient Secret to Longevity, Vitality, and Life Transformation.” To learn more, visit