Antonio Todde: The Inner Power of Inertia

31.01.2021 |

Episode #8 of the course Secrets to a long life: A study of the world’s oldest people by John Robin


Welcome back to our course on long life!

Yesterday we met Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper and discovered how the mantra, “stop complaining” is something to practice daily to boost your longevity potential.

I left you with a question yesterday: what one word do you think could summarize the seven traits we’ve encountered so far in each supercentenarian?

We could come up with one word to describe Hendrikje’s secret: positivity.

So, put differently, what do determination (Jeanne Calment), discipline (Jiroemon Kimura), calmness (Sarah Knauss), laughter (Emiliano Mercado), acceptance (Violet Brown), resilience (Yisrael Kristal), and positivity have in common?

Stop and think about it for a moment.

All right, what did you come up with?

I don’t know about you, but when I think about all these, I think of one word: “interiority.”

Many of us define life in terms of our nights out, our socializing, the events we attend, the TV shows we watch, the games we play, and the vacations we take. But these are all exterior.

It is possible to do all these things, and be miserable. This is because one cannot neglect the interior reality that is our own peace of mind and presence we have in our inner world. This presence is the same whether you live in a palace or a prison cell.

The focus on developing internal presence within your life is interiority. Equipped with it, you have great things at your disposal. They all come from within:

    • You can summon determination like Jeanne. Her heart stopped at 111 but she revived and made it to 122.

    • You can harness discipline like Jiroemon Kimura. With this, he ensured that what he ate kept him feeling healthy for 116 years.

    • You can develop calmness like Sarah Knauss. No matter what life threw at her, she had peace inside, for 119 meaningful years.

    • You can cultivate laughter—true inner laughter that you feel on the inside—just like Emiliano Mercado. Such a practice gave him 115 joyful years.

    • You can deepen acceptance, like Violet Brown. She let go and enjoyed what life had in store for her, for 117 years.

    • You can harness resilience like Yisrael Kristal. His resolve to see light, no matter what, outshone even the most harrowing misfortunes, for 113 years.

    • You can take on board the mantra “stop complaining”, like Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper. Such a tool kept her fearless for 115 years of positivity.

If you can do all this, then you have seven unique angles to work on interiority—control of your internal world.

And with that, we will gain an eighth tool to work on, by way of another fascinating study.

Time to meet…


Antonio Todde: 112 Years of Inertia

Today’s supercentenarian had a rough start to life. Born in 1889 in a Sardinian mountain village, Antonio Todde dropped out of school when he was six. When he was a young man, he was injured in World War I by a grenade. After this, he was a shepherd for 70 years.

Antonio lived on in the Sardinian mountains, where he was treated like a king by local villagers, all the way until his death, 19 days shy of his 113th birthday.

Up until his 109th birthday, he drank two glasses of wine every day, at which point he only drank one and a half. He died of natural causes. As his nephew, Vanni, put it: “His heart just gave up.”


Antonio’s Longevity Secret

Antonio claimed his two glasses of red wine every day for his longevity. 

The region where Antonio lived is also worth considering. Whereas long-lived women by far outnumber men overall, in the alpine region of Sardinia, particularly the nine villages including the one Antonio grew up in, 33 men have made it past 100, compared to 23 women. In Sardinia generally, the ratio of long-lived women to men is just 2:1, compared to the 7:1 worldwide ratio.

Are you familiar with the health tip that the Mediterranean diet and drinking two glasses of wine help you live longer? Here is the source of that fad.

Trying to discover Antonio’s secret, we might consult something else, found in another tidbit his nephew, Vanni, shared with reporters:

“Right up until the end, he lived like he always did without a fuss and showed a great love for his family.”



Antonio Todde’s one-word secret might be: “inertia.”

Inertia comes from science. Commonly misunderstood to mean doing nothing, it actually can mean doing a lot. If you are cruising down the highway in a 2000 lb truck at 100 k/h, you are in a state of inertia. The same goes if you weigh 100 lbs and are lying in bed. What both these situations have in common is that both these objects will continue doing what they are doing unless acted on by an outside force.

Stress is an outside force. It attacks our inner state of calm and peace of mind. Without stress, we possess inertia to sink into the moment, to simply be and be content with that. Stripped to the core of our presence of mind, which can be developed through regular meditation practice, there is great joy when we are connected to our pure inertia of being.

How can you tap into your own inertia in your daily life?

Pro tip: One simple source of rapid-fire stimulation comes from technology, particularly the push notifications in our apps.

To tap into inertia in your daily life, turn off all notifications on your phone, computer, and other devices. Go through, app by app, in the settings, and slide the “on” option to “off.”

It might sound radical, or crazy, but I guarantee you, it will change your life. It certainly did mine!

When you are fully in control of your apps, you will feel greater calm over your life, a calm much like that of a shepherd living in the inertia of the moment—and a calm that Sarah Knauss would approve of as well!

In fact, you’ll be on your way to develop interiority from yet another angle.

Stay tuned for our next lesson, when we will gain yet another secret on our quest to understand long life.


Recommended reading

An Analysis of the Effects of Smartphone Push Notifications on Task Performance with regard to Smartphone Overuse ERP


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