Happiness research by Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert teaches that most of us aren’t good at predicting how happy we will be in the future. Not only are our predictions based upon current feelings and events, they also flow out of our previous experiences—none of which necessarily explains what will happen, or how we will feel, far into the future. Instead, Gilbert recommends that we study and learn from those who are living the experience we say we want to mimic. Could it be that only the oldest of old living today can offer us clues about living a very long and happy life? That’s exactly what John Leland suggests in his new book, Happiness is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a year among the oldest old. For those of us who see a very long life as a gift we want to embrace, this book is a window into the wisdom of several elders with a great deal to teach.
A couple of weeks ago Thom and I visited the happiest place on Earth (aka: Disneyland.) Like most who grew up in Southern California, both Thom and I have frequented the park dozens of times through the years. And because 2017 is our 40th Anniversary year, it seemed fitting to go back to a place where we experienced a great deal of happiness in the early part of our marriage. Is it still happy? Yes and no. Sure, the magic of Disneyland cannot be denied. But at the same time, the property is packed in December with mobs of kids and adults. So, is it the place—or our attitude, that makes Disneyland happy? Fortunately, a new book titled, The Blue Zones of Happiness helps to make sense of the paradox. According to the author, Dan Buettner, our individual happiness is more than just our attitude. He goes on to explain how the right communities, combined with a few individual traits, best delivers a happy and meaningful life. [Read more…]
Nearly 40 years ago, in early October, Thom and I got married in the mountains of Colorado. Although the air was briskly cool, the sun was shining in the bright blue sky. Standing in front of a small wooden cabin surrounded by pine trees, we repeated our vows to each other in front of the seven people in attendance. I can vaguely recall being utterly in love with the young man standing next to me. And optimist that I am, I never doubted we were taking the next, best step for our relationship. Still, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would look back after all these years and recognize the gift that my marriage would become. While I realize that Thom and I have shared a great deal of good fortune along the way, a big part of our happy marriage can be boiled down to four simple (but not always easy) elements of an extraordinary relationship. [Read more…]
Like most people my age I am increasingly interested in what leads to aging well and happy. I am also keenly aware of how different that is from many of the conversations my parents had in later years. Rather than go through a depressing list of “organ – recitals” that often characterized our parents and their friends, the new emerging conversation about positive aging is leading in exciting and interesting directions every day. One recent study from the Netherlands combines the idea of healthy aging to people’s hopes, plans, and wishes for their future. Could it be that having goals and planning for certain experiences can make us happier and more satisfied as we age? This particular study says yes. [Read more…]
For as long as I can remember I have always encountered a new year with optimism and hope. Even when Y2K or the Mayan 2012 (remember them?) were on the horizon and then passed, I believed that any obstacle we faced in a new year could be overcome by either going over, around, or through the problems in front of us. Now here in 2017, we are faced with new and interesting challenges. But again, it is not my nature, nor the reality that I live in, to believe that optimism and hope are suddenly impossible. As I, and others far wiser than me have said, “Pain may be inevitable, but suffering is always optional.” With that in mind, I’ve spent the first few days of the year coming up with what I believe are ten ways to embrace more happiness and hope in the next 365 days. [Read more…]
During the last couple of years, my focus for creating a happy and meaningful life has shifted. Now, in addition to exploring ways to create the most positive life possible for myself and others, I’ve begun including ideas of how we can all age well and happy. And because I happen to believe very strongly in the power of our focus, along with the benefit of affirmations, I went in search of the best quotes I could find on the subject. Any of us who believe that, “what we think about, we bring about,” as well as “what we dwell upon we become,” might benefit by reading the following quotes on a regular basis.
I arrived on this planet 61 years ago, and I don’t think I’m old. Sure, I’ve been around a while and have certainly aged. But again, I don’t think that necessarily makes me old. Then this last week a friend and fellow blogger wrote an article saying that it was “ageist” to deny that we aren’t old past a certain age. While my friend didn’t mention when that exact number occurs, just knowing she is only a year or two older than me, made me guess that she believes I’m in the same boat. But the thing is, I don’t think she is old either, regardless of her age.
Of course, I do agree with her that rampant age discrimination exists in our country. It’s been around for as long as I can remember and I’m guilty of it too. I distinctly recall thinking my parents were old when I introduced Thom to them back in the late 1970s. At the time, they were in their early 40’s, and I am now two decades older than them at that introduction. Your perspective clearly changes as you age and until you reach certain milestones yourself, it is tough to relate. [Read more…]
Every summer my husband Thom and I rent a home in the mountains for a month. Then for a change of pace, we rent a cottage at the beach after that. Neither are fancy, but they are fun and comfortable. While I love my home in the desert southwest, it can be brutally hot during the summer, so escaping to somewhere cool when it’s scorching outside is a dream come true for me. And because we’ve “rightsized,” the cost fits easily into our budget.
But a question we always get is, “Oh, are you staying at your second home?” We happily answer “No!” That’s because when we visit these locations, we like to have the option of changing destinations and properties. Best of all, we like the freedom of not having to spend the time and money managing the property for the remainder of the year. These reasons and more prompted me to consider: is buying a second home, an RV or a boat SMART? [Read more…]
I do my best here on SMART Living to stay away from politics. That’s not because I don’t have an opinion, but my intention here is to instead inspire and encourage us all to think and form our own opinions from a space of awareness, compassion and personal responsibility. With that said, it occurred to me that much of the divisiveness we see and hear these days originates in some fundamental lies that we may be telling ourselves. Those lies or untruths are quite common and perhaps by taking the time to shine some light on them, we just might find that we have taken a wrong turn somewhere along the line. Here then, are ten falsehoods some people tell themselves that keep them from being happy and SMART. [Read more…]
For the next couple of weeks I will be out of town and I’m happy to introduce all of you to another SMART blogger named Lizzie Lau. Liz is a part-time resident of La Quinta, CA when she’s not traveling the world with her daughter. From the moment we met, I knew she was living a rightsized life. This post about “pura vida” says it all. Thanks Liz for allowing me to share another version of rightsizing!
Costa Rica has always been especially alluring to me. There is something about it that makes me want to go there and hang out. It’s on my bucket list, and ideally I’d love to take my daughter there for an extended visit to help her learn Spanish. It’s not just the beautiful scenery, beaches, cloud forests, hammocks and ocean breeze that call to me. It’s the vibe, the Pura Vida.