Betty W. Phillips, Ph.D., Psychology
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Happiness in the Second Half of Life



                                       HAPPINESS IN THE SECOND HALF OF LIFE!


In many other cultures elders are revered and respected. Unfortunately, too often elders here are seen as feeble and demented: “over the hill.” But you don’t have to follow this stereotype, and you can choose to understand that the golden years can truly be golden. If you are younger than 50, I advise you to read this article anyway. You can be making choices now to enhance the years to come. Guess what? You’ll find that inner joy and peace are much more important to happiness than money. It’s an absolute fact that you can’t take money with you out of this life. But you can take happiness into your everlasting future. How so?   True happiness includes kindness to yourself and others, altruism and good works, all which are eternal values.


I’ve written many articles about viable paths to happiness which you can find on my website. Today I’m going to add information about a helpful resource, “The 100 Simple Secrets of The Best Half of Life; What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It”, David Niven, PhD, HarperCollins, 2005. You might spend a year on this book quite profitably and happily. Please don’t sit down and read the book cover to cover or you’ll end up frustrated. Instead read each short section and make the advice your own. After you’ve considered and applied this knowledge, then move on to the next section.


I’m going to mention two of the hundred points in this book in order to highlight their importance.  “Happiness is Not an Accident.”  Happiness is a wonderful life goal, and like every worthwhile achievement it does require some time and energy. But you will enjoy yourself as you walk this path through life. Equally important is “You Must Approve of Yourself.” You will value yourself as you follow even some of this advice.


A few important cautions. Considering yourself as too old, seeing your life as over or resisting making changes will set you back or keep you stuck in negativity.  The second part of life should be planned ahead of time. Retirement to the golf course will bring only transitory pleasure, and you will lose connections to valued opportunities and self-esteem if you essentially retire from life. If you live with a partner it’s important to consider the possible difficulties of enforced joint confinement. Preplan how to share space and continue to enjoy separate activities during the day. If you add a new partner, counseling is imperative as is the decision whether to live separately or together. As I’ve worked over the years in senior couples counseling, I found that many couples can enjoy life with each other while maintaining separate residences instead of fighting unexpected but frequent battles over conflicting habits and values.


Each section of this book includes a research finding supporting the concept described. I’ll mention a few issues which received strong support in the scientific data. Consider the power of music. All of the seniors studied showed improved mood and greater satisfaction listening to their favorite music!  The power of positive thinking also received considerable support in these findings, including the need to focus on present happiness rather than hassles of the day. Practicing optimism and spending time with children were also highly related to life satisfaction.


Good news! You can teach an old dog new tricks!