Meaning and Happiness for the Elderly

Perhaps an often visited topic but one which still seems to fall short of providing answers. A recently published book is well worth the read in this regard.

Happiness Is a Choice You Make was written by John Leland , who spent a year interviewing and learning from some of New York City’s oldest residents — people 85 and above — from diverse cultures, backgrounds and life experiences.

According to John Leland “These people have given up distractions that make us do stupid things and instead focus on what’s important to them. None of them worry about things that might happen. They worry when it happens, and even then they don’t worry. They just deal with it. At whatever age we are, we can choose to adapt to whatever happens. ”

His message – and theirs – is unmistakable. By channeling

energies away from activities that produce stress and other negative outcomes and instead directing them into creative areas that generate happiness, an individual can change their perspectives and thus outcomes.

Wisdom that many elderly seem to have grasped. By remaining active and involved at whatever level and pace the inevitable limitations in mind and body may allow, they are constantly pushing back against the perceptions and realities of advancing age. And on the way they experience greater involvement, make new friends and in general feel more positive about life.

As Mr Leland notes “older people, knowing they face a limited time in front of them, focus their energies on things that give them pleasure in the moment.”

We need to be helping our elderly family members in this regard. This could be in the form of removing obstacles such as being shut in at home due to a lack of mobility, encouraging them to work at something fulfilling or helping with everyday tasks that become more difficult with age.


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