I'm among the 1% still alive who served in WWII – I put my 99 years down to 5 life lessons | The Sun

RICHARD Miralles is part of the dwindling 'Greatest Generation' – those that experienced World I, the Great Depression, and World War II and are still living to tell the tale.

Born in 1924, the World War II veteran, ex-forester and great-grandfather celebrated his 99th birthday earlier this year.

He lived through the Great Depression, served as a gunner aboard war planes and battled forest fires for 30 years before retiring.

His hasn't been a life without danger or risk – but Richard attributes his longevity to five key lessons he's learnt and implemented along the way.

Telling Insider he is "lucky and blessed to be as old as I am" and saying his experiences had given him the determination to live as long as possible, he shared his insights on ageing well.

1. Find the positive in life

Richard said one of the keys to his long life was actually having a happy childhood.

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He was fostered as a baby along with his two siblings and grew up without much money, but told Insider that it didn't really matter because his childhood was about having fun.

The 99-year-old also prides himself in being "laid back".

Scientists studying centenarians believe slashing stress might be one of the keys to long life.

According to author Dan Buettner – who coined the term Blue Zones to refer to five regions in the world where people regularly live to 100 – stress is linked to chronic inflammation and dementia.

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He said residents of Blue Zones frequently take naps or have happy hours with moderate amounts of red wine.

2. Have a purpose

Richard said he found a purpose in life when joining the navy after Pearl Harbour was bombed in 1941.

Being in the armed forces gave him a way to serve his country, added "excitement" to his life and also taught him discipline – a skill he found useful for the duration of his life.

According to Dan, finding a purpose to keep you going can add years to your life.

3. Be a realist

Serving during World War II and witnessing its horrors also made Richard realise that he wouldn't be able to control many things in life and gave a dose of 'realism'.

He recalled a mission when he was the gunner in a dive bomber, where a fellow gunner in another plane was killed.

"I counted at least 80 bullet holes on our aircraft, and his only had one," he said.

Richard explained that the experience made him realise that "if I'm going to get it, I'm going to get it".

"That was all there was to it. I thought there was no point in worrying," he added.

4. Live for the day

Richard joined a friend in a five month motorbike trip across Europe after he graduated college and travelled across the US and Mexico in a van with his wife after retiring at the age of 56.

"He has always been a 'live-for-the-day' person," his daughter Kathy Olsen told Insider.

5. Show 'self control' with snacks

Richard was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in his late 50s.

His diagnosis came as a shock to him as he kept active with golf and stayed away from fast food, eating a healthy meal of protein, starches and vegetables.

But Richard took even more care after his health scare, steering clear of high-sugar foods and keeping snacking to the minimum.

"He showed a lot of willpower — and still does," Kathy said.

Centenarians living in Blue Zones also try save sweets, cookies and cakes for special occasions occasions only and aim to eat no more than seven teaspoons of added sugar daily.

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And when it comes to nibbles, a handful of nuts is their snack of choice.

These famed long-lifers follow another nine diet tips that could be the key to living till 100.

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