If laughter plays a role in living longer, then the legendary Art Linkletter, 91, is likely on his way to being one of the longest-lived humans on the planet! And those lucky enough to have been among the one thousand seniors who heard his message at the recent Vital Aging Conference sponsored by the County of San Diego’s Aging & Independence Services, are likely on their way to living a long, happy life too!

There actually is research on the subject of humor and longevity that states the endorphins created and released in the body as the result of laughter contributes to a number of health benefits. In fact, some reports claim that laughter is like internal jogging -- and if that’s the case, then those present for Linkletters message did an hour’s worth of jogging without ever leaving their chairs.

Upon being introduced to the enthusiastic crowd who rose to their feet and greeted Linkletter with a standing ovation before he even reached the podium, Linkletter smiled, waved, his baby blue eyes twinkled, and you knew right away he thoroughly enjoys what he does and the audience was in for a special treat.

In his classic, humorous and humble way after hearing his introduction that detailed his amazing accomplishments in 91 years, Linkletter said, “I was worried about half way through that this was an obituary -- surely I was dead!” he laughed. “Although after many wonderful introductions, probably my favorite is still the one given by my 10-year old great-grandson a few years ago who said, ‘This is my great-grandfather, he’s 80 years old and still alive!’”

Linkletter speaks about seventy times a year, traveling 200K miles, sharing his insight, wisdom and humor to various groups ranging from churches, business executives, education institutes, senior groups, and non-profit organizations around the country. With an extraordinary seventy-year career in the entertainment industry, which actually started here in San Diego radio in 1935 while Linkletter attended San Diego State University, his television and radio shows, “People Are Funny” and “Kids Say the Darndest Things” are in the record books as two of the longest running shows in broadcast history. He’s won an Emmy, a Grammy, recently received the Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award, has authored 26 books, serves on the Board of Directors of a number of national companies, while also overseeing his many business ventures at Art Linkletter enterprises. He is the recipient of honorary degrees from a number of prestigious Universities, he’s also served on many Presidential Councils to address drug abuse and other national issues and was just recently awarded the National Humanities Medal from the President of the United States for his countless contributions.

Family and foundation are important to Linkletter who has been married to his wife Lois, a San Diego native, for 67 years. He comically shared his family background by saying, “I have nine grandchildren, fifteen great-grandchildren, five children, and all by the same wife, of course!”

Linkletter seems genuinely appreciative of all he has and believes life should never be taken for granted. “Living is not about just being alive–living is about, adventuring, learning new things, discovery, taking risks, and facing life’s ups and downs,” he said. Life has not been without tragedy for Linkletter who lost two of his own children, one to a drug overdose and another in an accident.

But Linkletter’s a man on a mission and is often referred to as the Ambassador for Positive Living. He turned negatives into positives by reaching out to others facing similar tragedies and believes whole-heartedly in the importance of this approach.

“It’s all about attitude -- continuing to make a positive difference and contribution every day,” Linkletter said. “My message is really about helping others make the best of the rest of their life because it’s not how old you are – it’s how you are old that really matters.”

Linkletter continues to do his life’s work and never lets age get in the way. He claims he’s having the time of his life and when people ask when he plans to retire he says, “To what? I’m doing what I love to do and enjoying every day!”

As he smiled, winked, and waved to the audience as he left the stage to his second standing ovation, everyone knew why he’s considered a legend.

Kelly Ferrin is a local gerontologist residing in Carlsbad. She is a certified
AARP retirement specialist, motivational speaker, consultant, and author of a
nationally released book titled, "What's Age Got To Do With It?" For column
ideas contact her at (760)438-2126 or on the internet at ageangel@earthlink.net.
Kelly Ferrin, Gerontologist Lifestyles (760)438-2126 web: http://www.ageangel.com

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