The life expectancy for someone born in 1914 was hovering around 56 years. Today, that number has boosted up to 78 years. Not too shabby. The real good news is with the centenarians. These are the folks who are living to be a hundred plus years. That number is going up by 5.5% each year. According to a United Nations report, in 2009 there were around 455,000 people around the world who reached that mark. By the year 2050, that number could go up to 4.1 million. That is a lot of birthday cake candles.

The centenarian living today has seen two world wars, Pearl Harbor and 9/11. They’ve gone from listening to their entertainment on the radio to watching it on television. Their first movies had no sound. To make a phone call across town, they needed to ask an operator for the connection. A long distance call could take several minutes or hours to set up. They’ve seen a man walk on the moon. They went from buying ice to keep their food cold to microwaves for instant cooking. There is a lot of history with a single 100-year-old. There is also a lot of sage advice. Sure, we can take the advice of medical professionals about sleeping more, eating better and exercising but I’d rather hear from the folks who have been there and done that.

In 2013, The Atlantic spoke to then 101-year-old Marian Cannon Schlesinger about her amazing life. She was the wife of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. who worked closely with JFK. Marian wanted it known that women have always been strong.

“This idea that feminism was created in the last twenty years is ridiculous. When you think of all the women that went across the continent in covered wagons. Really. It’s ridiculous,” she told The Atlantic. “It’s a lot of baloney. If they’d read a little history, they’d find out that women have been powerful characters all through the history of the United States.” She also added her best piece of advice for living to be 100, “Just go ahead and do your thing no matter what.”

On his website Advanced Style, creator Ari Seth Cohen prowls the streets of New York looking for “the most stylish and creative older folks.” Back in 2011, he met 100-year-old Ruth who had this to say about living longer:

“I make myself go out every day, even if it’s only to walk around the block. The key to staying young is to keep moving. Don’t look at the calendar just keep celebrating every day.”

In 2013, folks around Larose, Louisiana helped Adrine Chauvin Lee celebrate her 100 birthday. Her advice? “Make yourself walk.” Also, “Don’t just die all because you want to.”

For her 100th birthday, Elsa Bailey went skiing. It was only fitting since she had been skiing for the last 75 years. She probably has the best advice of all, ” “If you’re positive you can get through it OK,” said Bailey to ABC News. When you think negatively, you’re putting poison on your body. Just smile. They say laughter is the best medicine there is.”

Who was the oldest person you ever met?