With far fewer years left, if you were asked to identify one thing that would most significantly impact your future happiness, what would say?
Would you choose to improve your health as much as possible or perhaps make amends with a long-ago friend or family member.
Perhaps you think a happier life is unattainable.
Regardless of your answer, I bet you’ll agree that living a happier life is complicated for us all.
It might be that the complications are exactly what makes our life more rewarding and satisfying … happier.
For instance, if you are asked to state your biggest fears, you might identify losing your spouse or not being around to see the achievements of your children and grandchildren. Despite not wanting to think about the hard stuff, doing so may create a solid path forward to creating the relationships we are so afraid of losing … or never having improved.
What else is there?
Aren’t our relationships the thing that keep us going? Don’t we consider them now to be the most important aspect of life? Isn’t a life filled with loving friends and family far sweeter than any of our earlier successes? I’m not saying purely transactional relationships or those where we never have strife. I mean a connection that hits your heart and soul and fills you with happiness … and sometimes a little conflict.
Cultivating heartfelt relationships may be the key to happiness as we age. Will those friendships keep you alive and happy longer? I can’t say for sure, but you’ll agree those connections are the main thing to bring a glow that isn’t found elsewhere.
Human connection is the key to longevity.
The participants from multi-generational studies, some going back as far as the 1930’s, all point to the value of relationships in terms of happiness as the study members aged.
If you’re like me, you might wonder what can I do about this information now. First of all, it’s never too late to shore up sagging friendships or improve communication with family members. Look around in your life to see where you might be able to make changes that will bring more happiness. Don’t wait for others; take charge now.
Or, let go. Move on to find new friends who you trust and admire.
But, don’t wait.
No time to lose.
Our health is impacted every day by the satisfaction, or lack thereof, found in our relations with others.
It may not be easy, but remember what I said about our lives being complicated. There is a way around any roadblock. Dare I say: if you’re miserable it’s because that’s what you’re choosing for your life. And, you can’t expect to be negative and grumpy and expect happiness to find its way in.
Fulfilling connections are not difficult to acquire and maintain. Doing so is the least expensive, least exhausting, most rewarding and fun part of our future. All you have to do is be yourself, be honest and interested in others, and learn what you can do to improve someone else’s happiness. And don’t forget the power of kindness … always choose kindness. It’ll come back to you tenfold.
“you can’t expect to be negative and grumpy and expect happiness to find its way in.”
I read that over and over. My intent is for it to pop into my head whenever I get the urge to complain. Baby steps…thank you.
It’s ALL about baby steps. Thanks, Artemida!
This article–as is most everything–is targeting extroverts. Introverts have a far different perspective. Also- how do you reach out to family when they have made it known in no uncertain words that they want nothing to do with you?
I’m curious about your characterization of ‘introvert.” I’m so far in, I’ve been called a recluse by some, but I do have connections online at the very least and in person every once in a great while.
Yes, there is nothing that can be done if the door to you is closed. I would work on moving beyond these relationships to find those that might provide greater support – a friend or extended family member.
The main purpose of this post was to say that our relationships can provide a great deal of happiness later in life but that they take work. When lots of elders feel they don’t have the ‘stuff’ to enjoy their later life, it’s good to know for them that relationships can bring what’s needed. I hope this provides clarification about my intention here. Blessings …
Antonia, I really like what you say about human connection, and this sentence in your blog particularly resonates with me. “I mean a connection that hits your heart and soul and fills you with happiness … and sometimes a little conflict.” But I think we must be cognizant of the cultural stereotypes of the elderly embedded in our culture and the segregation of generations which diminishes young and old alike. How can fish be healthy in a polluted stream?
I also think we should look for more moments of joy, beauty, humor, and satisfaction, and forget about the pursuit of happiness. Although some people appear to be happy all the time, I don’t think they really are.
I really appreciate what you share, Annita. I agree that my use of the word ‘happiness’ sort of glosses over the other feelings that are the cornerstone of what some might casually refer to as happiness, as you said, joy, beauty, humor and satisfaction. The pursuit of happiness is personal, regardless of age, and I know for myself it can include any and all of those markers. Also, I’m not sure how this post deals with stereotypes of the elderly, and I’ve love to hear more of your perception. Thanks so much for reading and contributing, Annita!