Constantly Engage in Creative and Cognitive Activities. Research has shown that new neurons and neuronal connections can be developed through creative and cognitive activities — even in people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. So get your rump off the couch, turn off the reruns of Law and Order, work on a crossword puzzle, make a toy for your grandchild, or write that novel you’ve thought about doing for the last 10 years.

In this series, we are talking to medical experts, wellness experts, and longevity experts to share “5 Things You Need To Live A Long, Healthy, & Happy Life”. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Stan Goldberg, Ph.D.

Stan Goldberg is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Language and Hearing Disorders at San Francisco State University and the author of 225 articles and nine internationally award-winning non-fiction books. His latest book, Preventing Senior Moments: How to Stay Alert Into Your 90s and Beyond is the first book that examines senior moments as windows into how we process information rather than a comedian’s punchline. For more information and to connect with the author:

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

I am a person living with cancer, a Professor Emeritus who for more than 25 years taught, provided therapy, researched, and published in the areas of learning problems, communication disorders, loss, change, and end-of-life issues. For eight years I was a bedside hospice volunteer and currently, on a limited basis, counsel caregivers. My published articles range from the humor of being forced to ride an angry horse on the open range to the profound spirituality experienced holding someone as they died. When not writing I fly fish, sculpt in wood and stone, attempt to play wooden flutes I crafted, and act foolish with my two granddaughters. Ah, I forgot to mention that I’ve recently been diagnosed with an early stage of Parkinson’s. Move over Job, I’m about to take your place!

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

When I retired from the university, I became a hospice volunteer. For eight years I received lessons from my patients. Of the nine I received (they appear in my memoir, Lessons for the Living), one stood out more than any others and has guided me on a daily basis: Don’t wait. Don’t wait to thank someone for what they have done for you. Don’t wait to forgive. Don’t wait to ask for forgiveness. I found patients had better, more peaceful, more spiritual deaths when they cleaned their plates of ‘Don’t waits,’ than those who left their plates full.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

That person was Audrey Holland who was my mentor at the University of Pittsburgh when I was working on my doctorate in speech-language pathology. She not only was a mentor but became a close friend to my family and me. Several years ago when her son died, she asked if I could find a place to spread his ashes into the Pacific Ocean. I immediately knew where that would be. It was Bean Hollow State Park, a place where I often took my hospice patients for a last outing. Audrey recently died, and her daughter asked me if I remembered where her mother spread her brother’s ashes. She wanted to stand in the same place to spread her mother’s ashes. A description of Audrey’s goodbye to her son appears in my poem “A Bean Hollow Goodbye.” (

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Willingness to be vulnerable. For 20 years my wife and I yearly spent Thanksgiving with a group of close friends. That changed in 2004 when I became a bedside hospice volunteer and offered to do a 24-hour shift so other volunteers could spend time with their families. It would be my first assignment. In that 24-hour period I had to confront my worst fears: I, along with a Certified Nursing Assistant would be caring for a person dying from an infectious disease. I left the next morning a person different than who I was before starting my shift. When I returned home, my wife asked me “How was it?” I could only hug her and sob — not from depression, but from joy.

Focus on Problem-Solving. Throughout my career as a speech-language pathologist, I tried to make my clients the center around which I practiced. They were not seeking me to praise my resourcefulness; I was there to help them solve a communication problem. In 30 years of practice, I found that this reversal — allowing the client to determine the course of therapy — was not only clinically more effective, but it taught me to be humble. When my clients had difficulty with something, I assumed it was my failure to find the right solution, not their failure to change.

The best ideas you have are probably not yours. When I was completing my first non-professional book, I began to think of myself in self-glorifying terms, until I attended a Buddhist retreat conducted by the late monk, Ribur Rinpoche. As I feverously wrote down everything he said through a translator, his thoughts felt familiar although I never heard him speak nor read anything he wrote. That evening as I reviewed my notes, I found that what I wrote in my book and thought were MY profound ideas were ones Ribur Rimpoche had been teaching in Tibet. Even more astounding was that these ideas were ones that the Buddha had espoused more than fifteen hundred years ago. Realizing I plagiarized — even unwittingly — from the Buddha was humbling and embarrassing. It was an experience that taught me that certain ideas have a universality and if you are lucky enough to be a receptacle of them, be joyful and appreciative. And when you have a really crappy idea, it’s probably your own.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview about health and longevity. To begin, can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fields of health, wellness, and longevity? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

I’ve never called myself an authority on anything. I think of myself as someone with a questioning attitude. I research a problem, formulate a question, test my hypothesis, and confirm, reformulate, or reject what I thought I knew. I think my contribution to the world of wellness is that I try not to confuse philosophy with facts. For example, in my new book, Preventing Senior Moments: How to Remain Sharp Into Your 90s and Beyond, I stand a popular belief on its head: Senior moments are not funny, but offer unique insights into how the brain works today and maybe in the future.

Seekers throughout history have traveled great distances and embarked on mythical quests in search of the “elixir of life,” a mythical potion said to cure all diseases and give eternal youth. Has your search for health, vitality, and longevity taken you on any interesting paths or journeys? We’d love to hear the story.

When someone talks about a tragedy in their life, a loss, or an unfulfilled dream, I would love to be able to say “I don’t know anything about that.” Unfortunately, I usually nod and prepare to share a similar story. What I’ve learned is that adversity seems to be the most fertile ground for growth. In a novel I just finished writing, one of the most poignant lines the heroine says is “You don’t have great insights sitting on a beach drinking Mai Tais.” On my website ( I write about the role of adversity. What I found was that while each illness — the ones I have and those experienced by others — are unique, all are related. There is loss in all illnesses and paradoxically opportunities to thrive.

Based on your research or experience, can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Live A Long & Healthy Life”? (Please share a story or an example for each)

Constantly Engage in Creative and Cognitive Activities. Research has shown that new neurons and neuronal connections can be developed through creative and cognitive activities — even in people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. So get your rump off the couch, turn off the reruns of Law and Order, work on a crossword puzzle, make a toy for your grandchild, or write that novel you’ve thought about doing for the last 10 years.

Understand the Connection Between Mind and Body. You don’t have thoughts that are separate from how your brain functions or your body works — it’s a Gestalt, an entity that is as connected as strands are on a spiderweb.

When You Disagree, Start With the Assumption That You Are Wrong. This is difficult for most people, including me, but you’ll be amazed at what happens when you begin here. I did a terrible parking job in a large lot and made it difficult for anyone to enter through the driver’s door of the car next to me. When I returned to my car, there was a very angry person who couldn’t open his car’s door. I’m sure he expected me to argue with him after he berated me as “a damn inconsiderate, asshole.” When I apologized, rather than trying to defend what I did, he was in shock and proceeded to apologize for his rude comment.

Try to Interact Without Using Defenses. We all have defense mechanisms. Some have been developed out of necessity, others out of fear. The problem with defenses is that although they may have been justified when you created them, with time they may have lost their value, yet they remain, distorting and polluting your interactions. I learned the importance of honesty — both to the person expressing it and those listening — when I was a hospice volunteer. Listening to a person who knows she will die within days telling you, without filters about her life was transforming.

Adapt, Rather Than Give Up or Fight. Aging is a journey of loss. We lose significant partners, health, abilities, etc. The quality of our lives depends upon how we transition from who we were before the loss to who we will become. When I began to have physical problems that prevented me from being able to do wilderness flyfishing — an activity that was significant for my mental health — I could do one of three things: Continue doing it causing my family to have great concern for my safety. Put away my flyrod, buy a lawn chair that could hold a can of bear, and plunk a worm into a slow-moving river. Or, I could search for something to give me the sense of serenity I experienced standing in the middle of a pristine stream. I chose the last option and began crafting and playing wooden flutes.

Can you suggest a few things needed to live a life filled with happiness, joy, and meaning?

There is one simple thing — a phrase everyone should have tattooed on a part of their body they can look at daily. It’s a phrase I would like on my tombstone or in the memory of people I knew: “He made a difference.” Honor that phrase, and you’ll have no problems finding happiness, joy, and meaning in your life.

Some argue that longevity is genetic, while others say that living a long life is simply a choice. What are your thoughts on this nature vs. nurture debate? Which is more important?

The assumption is that they are two different things. In many areas, they are intricately connected. Separating them may be psychologically satisfying (e.g., If you got the genes, eat that steak!) but scientifically illogical.

Life sometimes takes us on paths that are challenging. How have you managed to bounce back from setbacks in order to cultivate physical, mental, and emotional health?

In my counseling and personal life, I’ve found that adversity and loss can be handled in many ways. For some people, a workable approach is “talk therapy,” where with the help of someone, you explore your setbacks. For other folks “denial” becomes a justifiable coping mechanism. For me, and my clients the approach has always been to identify the emotion that one no longer feels and strive to regain it. I counseled a gentleman whose life was upended when his wife died. We explored the emotions he was no longer feeling and strove to find methods, actions, etc. that would recreate the emotions his wife generated in him. In his case, it was “purpose.” Instead of looking for another partner, he became involved in a program to feed street people.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

Many years ago when I was having grave doubts about my role as a husband and father, I attended a retreat at the Shasta Buddhist Abbey. After listening to a litany of errors I made, a monk less than half my age (I was in my 40s) who probably just started shaving, said, “Stan, we do the best we can given the circumstances of our life.” For more than 30 years it is a thought that has stayed with me and one I think about when I’m about to chastise myself for doing an unskillful act.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m reminded of what that great American philosopher, Groucho Marx, said. “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” I have an aversion to movements, groups, and cults that espouse a philosophy. Mind you, there are many beliefs I have that I would defend, provide donations, and even with a group demonstrate. But I’m with Groucho when it comes to movements.

What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?

On my website,, I’ve posted more than 200 original articles on aging, loss, change, end-of-life, and chronic illnesses that are free and downloadable. You can ask a question, criticize, or comment on each of them. I try to respond within 24 hours.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.