4 Secrets to Aging Happily
There’s a reason we wish each other a happy and healthy New Year every January.
In our minds, the two go hand in hand: How happy can you be if you’re saddled with the aches, pains, and ailments of aging? In fact, aging happily has a great deal to do with your personal approach.
Our emotions—anger, love, pride, etc.—are what make us human. If we can’t control the negative emotions, though, they can also make us miserable. The ability to focus on positive emotions is important at any stage of life, and it becomes more critical as you face the challenges of aging. Good feelings not only make you happier and more resilient, studies show that they may actually extend your life. A thriving social network is important to aging successfully, and a positive attitude always draws people together.
Of course nobody feels happy all of the time, but it is possible to focus your emotions in that direction. Try to cultivate these four positive feelings to discover more happiness now and for years to come.
What is the most tranquil spot you can think of? A quiet beach with gentle breezes and a shimmering turquoise sea. A place that’s peaceful and stress-free. Imagine how happy you would be if your mind was like that place—calm and untroubled. If, however, you dragged all your baggage down to the beach with you, your island paradise wouldn’t be so relaxing. Neither is your mind when you carry around years of disappointments, resentments and bad feelings. This vision of the past is an anchor that will pull you down. So make peace with it, learn from it. and move on. That beach is calling to you.
There’s no happiness to be found by holding a grudge—only stress, anger, and judgment. You’ll never be content if you can’t let go of the mistakes people make, including your own. After decades of living, working, and having complex relationships, you’ve probably racked up a good amount of them. What good does it do you to beat yourself up about the past? Take the lessons from your mistakes and apply them to the present and future. To feel the power of forgiveness, you need to accept your missteps, learn from them, and let them go.
A visit from an old friend, a piece of great news, or a heartfelt thank-you note in your stack of junk mail can add joy to any day. It comes when something wonderful happens out of the blue—but you won’t feel it if you’re not paying attention to the good things that happen on a regular basis. Living joyfully requires self-awareness. It means taking the time to recognize the pleasures of your life—not just once in a while, but all the time. Ask yourself, How can I create more joyful moments in life? Then make it happen.
Good fortune doesn’t come from a cookie; it comes from mindfulness and a generous spirit. It helps to make gratitude a conscious, everyday habit. That means appreciating the kindness people show you and the time and effort they put into making you happy. Thank them. Show them how you feel. Gratitude comes to life when it’s shared. You to become more generous with yourself, too.
Finding happiness in aging is a conscious choice, not an accident—and it largely depends on your appreciation of life’s rewards. By focusing on positive emotions, and understanding where contentment comes from, you can make good things happen, and enjoy every minute of it.