Welcome to my first guest post! My friend Georgi is a sweet, brilliant soul and a book loving librarian. We met doing a work share on a local farm. Following is her review of Happiness is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a year among the oldest old by John Leland. Enjoy!
Here’s my little book talk for “Happiness is a Choice you Make: Lessons from a year among the oldest old” by John Leland, published in 2018. John Leland spent a year getting to know 6 people aged 85 and older, and wrote a series of articles for the New York Times. At the time, he was struggling with some life crises of his own; the end of his marriage and caring for his own frail mother. The conversations with these elders made him see life in a new light, not just for old folks but, unexpectedly, for himself and others. Here’s what I appreciated from these stories:
1) Have a sense of purpose.
2) Embrace interdependence, it benefits all parties so everyone feels useful (especially useful for old or infirm people who may feel dependent and lacking in self-esteem).
3) Have compassion and empathy for people in your life, both past and present. You can fashion your memories into a story of a good life which will make you more contented with the life you have now.
4) Be flexible. You can rework your goals and aspirations for a happy life; give up things that are now longer important. Accept that adversity is ok- mixed feelings are ok. Be happy “in spite of” not “happy if only”.
5) Live in the moment, not in the future. Young people are often worried about what is to come, old people know to make every day count. The future is finite; the present is all the more wondrous as a result.
6) Be grateful for the good things in life. Life is amazing; life is a gift! Don’t worry, keep singing and dancing!
After reading this book I chose happiness for at least a week. 😊 Revisiting it for you gives me a booster shot of positive thinking. So thank you! It is hard to get over the cynicism that can easily become one’s constant state. Change is slow. For me, it’s also helpful to try to surround myself with others that embrace happiness and celebrate life.
John Leland hasn’t written a regular “self-help” book. This is a set of stories about some remarkable and just regular people who struggle with life like all of us. But they each have experiences that impart lessons about living well in spite of personal hardship. A very readable book that you can check out of the library. You too can “chose happiness”.