Happiness is a choice you make

Great insights from older people. accepting ‘what is’ and it’s proving to be very helpful in my current situation. Loss is being human, shared by everyone. Quality of life is how we react to events not the event itself. Being thankful for everyday.
I chose Manjula and she chose me. That made us very happy for which I am very grateful.

Secrets of Happiness from the Oldest of the Old

A journalist spent a year following six people 85 and older. He found life lessons for all ages.

From

Kiplinger

 Mary Kane

Photo by Getty Images

Many of us worry about what our lives will be like in our final years. But after spending a year following six people ages 85 and older, The New York Times reporter John Leland came to some surprising conclusions about old age and contentment later in life. His work inspired his book, Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons From a Year Among the Oldest Old (Sarah Crichton Books, $16), which comes out in paperback in January. In this lightly edited conversation with Associate Editor Mary Kane, Leland talks about applying the wisdom of the oldest old to our lives at any age.

You write, “If you want to be happy, think like an older person.” Can you explain how that works?

We know from a lot of research that older people are more content with their lives than younger people are. Thinking like an older person is thinking about resilience and focusing on what is as opposed to what is not. Accepting your mortality by not being so afraid of it. When you are older, you view the time horizons in front of you differently. You understand the days are finite, and we might as well enjoy the ones we have left. The big lesson for me, the really practical one, is waking up in the morning and saying, “Thank God for another day.” It’s the conscious practice of gratitude.

Can you explain what you call “selective forgetting”?

We do forget the horrible things in our lives to a great extent but not entirely. The traumas of our lives stay with us. But we’re constantly writing the stories of our lives, and there are lots of things we’re filtering out. Usually our stories are about the positive things. That flu that almost killed you—you forget about how miserable you were. You just remember that it didn’t kill you. That friend you made when you were 14—that’s something you remember.

[The people I interviewed] saw loss as part of what it is to be human. It doesn’t make loss any more fun. But you’re not being singled out for punishment. You’re sharing that same experience with every other person that’s ever lived.

What do you mean when you say happiness is a choice?

You come to understand that the quality of our lives isn’t based in the events of our lives. It’s really in the reaction to the events in our lives. That’s a really useful thing, to realize “I don’t have control over some of the events in my life, like the weather, but I actively have a say in how I respond to the weather.” The title of the book is Happiness Is a Choice You Make, but the key word isn’t happiness. It’s choice. It’s declaring that you won’t be defined or determined by the circumstances of your life. You have a say in this. That declaration is liberating. That liberation is happiness. Happiness isn’t just the thing you choose; it’s the act of choosing it that makes you happy.

You talk about the essence of what you learned: “to shut down the noise and fears and desires that buffet our days and think about how amazing, really amazing, life is.” Can we all do this?

There are things we can do to change our ways of thinking and improve the quality of our lives. I’m not talking about depression, which is a serious illness that kills people and needs to be treated. But you can be focusing on what is, not what you don’t have and what you’re missing. Optimism doesn’t mean the future is going to necessarily be better. It means seeing that the present is better.

We are so detached from the oldest old, in a way previous generations were not. How can we address that?

We think of old age as some sort of place to visit—and not a pleasant place. But just spending time with the old is sometimes all we can do, and the most important thing we can do. Give older people a chance to talk. Find out what they care about, and what’s important to them. Older people aren’t being asked about what they need. They are being told what they need by people who have never been old.

This article was written with the support of a journalism fellowship from the Gerontological Society of America, Journalists Network on Generations and Silver Century Foundation.

This post originally appeared on Kiplinger and was published December 31, 2018. This article is republished here without permission.

Seven weeks

Emotional titbit

I’ve avoided going to our local hotel for a parcel (take out).

During Manjula’s last few months when unable to cook, her friend Sudha would bring a home cooked meal for her each day. I’d get a parcel from Dose Corner. So it’s a firm memory.

Well it’s been seven weeks now so I forced myself go fetch a meal and help move on.

Its a great meal and costs just 110 rs

It’s maybe not surprising but even something as simple as getting the meal is very emotional with tears welling up.

I’m slowly shifting towards happier memories. Last night I put together first stages of the photo book. I’ve been avoiding it.

It was really therapeutic. Not straightforward but really nice to do.

Moving on… with Manjula with me.

It has to change.

You have my sympathies.

I’ve posted what must seem a constant stream of feelings. It also can’t be easy to find your way around the many postings.

It reminds me of an interview I gave to a journalist in the UK, years ago. I was working on an innovative approach to engage local communities in helping guide local public services to be more responsive to their needs. After I’d explained my approach. He said, so you launch a whole series of custard pies some hit and some even stick While some fall by the wayside.

I’m beginning to think meandmycycle.com is not dissimilar. A series of disconnected postings ranging from the bizarre, mildly interesting and hopefully a fair few that connect to you.

I’m working on that same theory. Randomly works, sometimes.

Thank you for sticking with it and me.

But I think I need to get a bit better organised and the blog more focussed.

So over the next few weeks I’ll start to focus on:

Our story, with two separate parts Manjula’s amazing story (I’m not biased, the more interesting by far) and Stephen’s

There will also be insights into this amazing country….

Life in India

and some bits a pieces:

Titbits a sort of hotch potch

Clearly labelled (yeh!)

I’ll use feedback to review, amend and revise.

So please….. As always, comments are appreciated and feedback on what works for you and suggestions of how I can improve would be great.

Thanks for your invaluable support.

Have a heart

You’d think that after almost four years of Manjula and my experiences of the ill health industry, that would have been enough.

Well no, clearly not. I’ve had a battery of check up tests including an ECG with a little irregularity spotted, so move one step forward to ECHO.

Result is ….. high blood pressure has resulted in slightly enlargement means watch diet, do exercise and monitor blood pressure. At or over 140 on a regular basis go see the Doctor.

I had, of course, to make my stale joke about there not being any stress in my life. 🙃

Kerala farewell

We’re slap bang in the middle of a highway

Winds are picking up and rushing through Lucie’s hairs.

The traffic is relentless but not orderly. We are in India. There are always patterns so it’s invariably differently organised from what you’d expect from the point of view of a westerner.

Much of the traffic is fully loaded others on the lookout antennae twitching, scouring, searching for its next load to carry back to the nest.

I wonder….What time do ants get up to start their working day?

The sun rises burning off the moisture lifting the misty fog.

It’s quite noisy with bird life making its presence known. Now and then the crack of a gun. What do they shoot out here? Rabbits? Birds? Wild boar?

Manjula is with us on the rocky outcrop in the mini photo I’ve introduced to everyone we met on this trip. She’s probably met as many people as we did on our mini holidays. It’s a bit weird as I don’t give the full details, just that she’s my wife from Mysore.

It’s time to move. The old mans knees and calf muscles are showing signs of age as every day passes

Lucie the pack leader that she is, the one to track through memory and smell leads the way.

A siren blares. Think Second World War. It’s time for work at the tea plantation or factory.

“Luce wait for me.”

She chooses not to wait for me. By the time I reach our hillside cottage she’s way past it down at the bottom waiting for breakfast.

Another great Kerala Wayanad breakfast and now it’s time to move again and leave the Dhanagiri homestay.

Thanks to Anant and his lovely family.

Today’s adventure

Lovely group of young people on summer camp organised by outback adventures more info here

The stick is magic, of course and together with the sling, were used to entertain and help create team chaos. 🙃 Thanks to Faizan for inviting me to another diversionary tactic.

Friends

Friends in Sri Lanka

The geezer kept following me around, he’s known in both India and Sri Lanka. The local storyteller in Galle Fort told me he was Makara. Check him out here

I’ve made some other cool friends on this latest trip to Sri Lanka. Here’s the youngest sharing my breakfast and.,,,

Nicking my shoes and socks. In conversations with her mum I realised that Sri Lankan’s are more than happy with the standard of the govt schools where I believe most children are sent and taught in local language. So not like India, except perhaps in Kerala.

My good driver friend, Nandan