As I turn sixty-two today I feel especially appreciative that I generally feel so happy about my life.
A few years ago I read Gretchin Rubin's book, The Happiness Project, and started following her blog. I started thinking about what happiness is and why some people are happy and some aren't.
Recently I read What Happy People Do Differently on the Psychology Today web site and many of its points about happy people rang true to me. Here's five of them; the italics are quotes from the article.
1. Happy people are curious and are willing to step out of their comfort zone to satisfy their curiosity.
Truly happy people seem to have an intuitive grasp of the fact that sustained happiness is not just about doing things that you like. It also requires growth and adventuring beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone.
2. Happy people focus on the positive details of life.
The happiest people have a natural emotional protection against getting sucked in by the intense gravitational pull of little details. They cast a "blind eye to life's vicissitudes."
The happiest people are the ones who are present when things go right for others—and whose own wins are regularly celebrated by their friends as well.
[Happy people] often using feelings of anger effectively to stick up for themselves or those of guilt as motivation to change their own behavior. This nimble mental shifting between pleasure and pain, the ability to modify behavior to match a situation's demands, is known as psychological flexibility. The ability to tolerate the discomfort that comes from switching mind-sets depending on whom we're with and what we're doing allows us to get optimal results in every situation.
5. Happy people achieve a good balance of enjoying the pleasures of the moment and doing the hard work to achieve a future goal.
...overall, people who are the happiest tend to be superior at sacrificing short-term pleasures when there is a good opportunity to make progress toward what they aspire to become in life.
All of this seems so true to me. I do think that we can learn how to be happy and make the choices that will take us down that road. Of course, good luck helps too. My good health, good brain, devoted and supportive husband, interesting son, and loving extended family, are true gifts. Because I value these gifts I enhance them by choosing happiness.
At age 62 it's relatively easy to choose happiness. After all, these are the "golden years," when the fruits of earlier hard work pay off in having enough money, enough time, enough knowledge to enjoy life to the fullest. My hope is that this bedrock of happiness will stand firm as the years go by and offer a foundation that will keep life steady during the challenges that surely lay ahead.