100 Simple Secrets of the Best Half of Life : What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It
The Simple Science of Living Life to the Fullest What do people who enjoy the second half of their lives do differently than those who dread getting older Sociologists, therapists, and psychiatrists have spent entire careers investigating the ins and outs of successful aging, yet until now their findings have been inaccessible to ordinary people, hidden in obscure journals, to be shared only with other experts. Now David Niven, the international bestselling author of the 100 Simple Secrets series, has collected the most current and significant data from more than a thousand of the best scientific studies on the second half of life. These findings have been boiled down to one hundred essential ways to find and maintain happiness, health, and satisfaction, every day of your life. Each statistic is accompanied by a true story showing the results in action. IT'S IN YOUR HEAD : People over the age of fifty who did not think of themselves as old were 39 percent more likely to be happy.
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April 05, 2005
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Excerpt from 100 Simple Secrets of the Best Half of Life by David Niven
Happiness Is Not an Accident
We have strategies for most things in our lives -- from work, to games, to how to get home from town two minutes faster. But we leave some of the most important parts of our lives, like our happiness, to chance. Happiness is not like height; you don't just get a certain amount and then have to live with it. Happiness can be improved -- if you know what you are doing and what you are not doing, and you care to change.
For Patrick, it started with a request from a neighbor. The neighbor had played the part of Santa Claus for several years, creating a tradition of a visit from Santa to all the children in the neighborhood. But one year, Santa had a cold and asked whether Patrick could take over for him that day.
Patrick donned the suit and passed out candy canes and good wishes to all the neighborhood children, calling them each by name and convincing them he was for real. "When I put on the suit, I actually felt like Santa Claus," Patrick says. "It was a truly magical feeling."
When the old Santa saw how much Patrick enjoyed the job, he told Patrick he would be happy to let him take over. Patrick saw the potential for sharing some joy with others and expanded the reach of his duties from his neighborhood to area hospitals. "Sick children would light up when they saw me," Patrick recalls. "I would sit with them, and they would smile from ear to ear. It was such an honor to be able to bring them a good feeling like that."
Over the years the Santa suit wore out and Patrick upgraded to a top-of-the-line model -- "the kind they use at the really good malls," he explains.
Patrick has been playing Santa for so long now that he's beginning to see the children of the children he saw as Santa when he first started out. But Patrick has no plans to find a new man for the suit. "Santa never retires," he says.
Researchers found that the majority of the subjects they
studied were not able to identify anything they had done
recently to try to increase their happiness or life satisfaction.