What is the Key to Happiness? Ask a Senior

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When I was young, I thought being happy meant having “things.” As a young adult, obtaining a good job, buying a nice house and driving a neat car were a part of my plan to happiness. The older I got the more I found out that things cannot make you happy. Still I struggled with bitterness in hard times and a whiney spirit. So what is the secret to being happy? The answer came to me through the mouths of wisdom.

As a journalist I’ve had the opportunity to interview hundreds of seniors. A running theme emerged as I listened to their life stories. Some had endured many hardships and nearly all had worked very hard most of their lives. Some had lost children, struggled through lean times or had serious illnesses. They were not bitter about having to go through these rough times or work their fingers to the bone. Instead, they were so very thankful — for each season of life and all of the hardships. They had endured. They had thrived. They were happy.

It seems easy to be happy when everything is going right, but these seniors remember the “hard years” as some of the best years of their lives. They remember the laughter — the good times.

What Do They All Have in Common?

  1. A positive attitude
  2. They found lessons in even the hardest of times
  3. A strong love of family and friends
  4. They found joy in simple pleasures
  5. A strong faith
  6. The willingness to work through it all

I also found that their gratitude and thankful attitudes were contagious! 

One of the hardest times in my life was when my own daddy had surgery for cancer of the bladder. The doctors didn’t seem to give him much hope for surviving for even a year. I couldn’t accept that. I just couldn’t lose my daddy. I was worried and asked him how he was feeling about it all.

“Angel,” he said while lying in his hospital bed. “I’ve had a wonderful life. I have a wonderful family. God has been so good to me. I couldn’t be more thankful for you and your momma and the grandkids. I’d like to live longer but if God calls me home, I’m ready to go.”

That was 13 years ago and daddy is still with us. He has seen ten great-grandchildren born and still works at the barbershop one day a week. He and momma both are thankful for each and every day.

I’m still a work in progress. I whine a lot less and do my best to find joy and peace in this world of chaos. I can say that I do find so many reasons to be thankful and it does make me a much happier person. So count your blessings. It is the secret to happiness.

(This article was reviewed February, 2024.)

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