Happiness Is a Choice You Make
An extraordinary look at what it means to grow old and a heartening guide to well-being, Happiness Is a Choice You Make weaves together the stories and wisdom of six New Yorkers who number among the "oldest old"-- those eighty-five and up.In 2015, when the award-winning journalist John Leland set out on behalf of The New York Times to meet members of America's fastest-growing age group, he anticipated learning of challenges, of loneliness, and of the deterioration of body, mind, and quality of life. But the elders he met took him in an entirely different direction. Despite disparate backgrounds and circumstances, they each lived with a surprising lightness and contentment. The reality Leland encountered upended contemporary notions of aging, revealing the late stages of life as unexpectedly rich and the elderly as incomparably wise.Happiness Is a Choice You Make is an enduring collection of lessons that emphasizes, above all, the extraordinary influence we wield over the quality of our lives. With humility, heart, and wit, Leland has crafted a sophisticated and necessary reflection on how to "live better"--informed by those who have mastered the art.

Happiness Is a Choice You Make Details

TitleHappiness Is a Choice You Make
Author
ReleaseJan 23rd, 2018
PublisherSarah Crichton Books
ISBN-139780374168186
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Self Help, Personal Development, Psychology

Happiness Is a Choice You Make Review

  • BOOKLOVER10
    January 1, 1970
    John Leland wrote a well-received newspaper series about "the oldest old," people who are eight-five and up. "Happiness is a Choice You Make" originated from his year-long interaction with six individuals in their eighties and nineties. Some are ill, while others are relatively healthy, if you discount the aches and pains that afflict everyone sooner or later. Ninety-one year old John Sorenson has lived for forty-eight years on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and still mourns his late partner, John Leland wrote a well-received newspaper series about "the oldest old," people who are eight-five and up. "Happiness is a Choice You Make" originated from his year-long interaction with six individuals in their eighties and nineties. Some are ill, while others are relatively healthy, if you discount the aches and pains that afflict everyone sooner or later. Ninety-one year old John Sorenson has lived for forty-eight years on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and still mourns his late partner, Walter. Eighty-seven year old Frederick Jones, who is diabetic and has a weak heart, lives alone in a walk-up (he has difficulty navigating stairs). Helen Moses, ninety, lives in a Bronx nursing home, and is thrilled that her fellow resident, Howie, whom she cares for deeply, is there for her. Ping Wong lives comfortably in a low-rent apartment in Gramercy Park and has a home attendant coming in to assist her. Ninety-one year old Ruth Willig is in an assisted living facility in Brooklyn, New York. Finally, Jonas Mekas, ninety-two, is a filmmaker and writer who is energetic enough to remain independent and active.Although "Happiness is a Choice" is engrossing, timely, and even darkly humorous, the writing could have been sharper, more concise, and less meandering. Still, Leland's work of non-fiction is worth looking at, for several reasons. Since life expectancy has gone up markedly, we should think about what it would be like to be octogenarians and even nonagenarians. How would we ward off loneliness; pay our bills; run a household; keep track of our medications; deal with relatives; cope with our dwindling physical capabilities; and find joy? The author does not sugarcoat the negatives. Some of his interviewees candidly state that they have had it, and are ready to call it quits. However, there are an ample number of upbeat messages here: Live in the moment, but cherish your memories; learn to give and take graciously; and try to adapt to the changes that come with advanced age. To sum up: "We can focus on what we've lost or the life we have now.""Happiness is a Choice You Make" is sometimes painful to read. It reminds us that if we are destined to live for many decades, we may be in for some challenging times, medically and psychologically. Still, it is enlightening to learn from people who have been around long enough to see the big picture. The most successful among the elders engage in pleasurable activities, maintain a certain amount of optimism, and stick with those relationships that are emotionally nurturing. An expert on aging warns that "social isolation kills," so staying involved with friends and loved ones is a key to boosting one's morale and remaining invested in the future.
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  • Sharon May
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks so much to NetGalley, Sarah Crichton Books, and John Leland for the opportunity to read and review this book - should be a must read!John Leland, a journalist for the New York Times, spent a year with a select group of "elders" - those oldest of the old in our society to see what lessons they could impart on the rest of us. What followed is this book - we get a glimpse at our society, the government and families treat this segment of the population and how we can all do better.What is mos Thanks so much to NetGalley, Sarah Crichton Books, and John Leland for the opportunity to read and review this book - should be a must read!John Leland, a journalist for the New York Times, spent a year with a select group of "elders" - those oldest of the old in our society to see what lessons they could impart on the rest of us. What followed is this book - we get a glimpse at our society, the government and families treat this segment of the population and how we can all do better.What is most to be gained by reading this book is the lesson that we all need to live like we are dying - since we all are. Easier said than done but the small lessons in this book - be grateful, look at what you can do and not what you can't, help others and let others help you - can make big impact in our relationships. Since I have a mother who falls into this demographic, I learned lots of things that I hope will stick and improve my relationship with my mother going forward (although it's great, we're starting to navigate issues foreign to both of us).Highly recommended!
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  • Debbi
    January 1, 1970
    I listened to this book on Audible. The Narrator seemed to be a good fit for the material. I had read some of the author's profiles in the New York Times and found them interesting. I like John Leland's writing style and enjoyed hearing about the relationships he cultivated with his six subjects. By the end of the book some of the stories felt a little repetitive and occasionally grim and yet after finishing, I think it was time well spent with several gems of wisdom scattered along the way.
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  • Kristen
    January 1, 1970
    Happiness is a Choice You Makes is an enjoyable book about the the authors interviews and interactions with several of New York's "oldest old", people over age 85. It was very interesting to hear the author's take on what he learned from these people: what their lives are like, how they feel about being old, and the ways that the find (or struggle with) purpose and satisfaction in their daily lives.To best sum up:Be grateful for small thingslive for today
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  • Melissa Dee
    January 1, 1970
    I am grateful to John Leland for his engagement with “the elders” and for writing this book. As a middle-aged daughter of precariously-healthed parents, I found much to inspire me in “Happiness is a Choice You Make.” I’ve thought about many of the issues he discussed, but found comfort in many more. The day-at-a-time, purpose driven life that seems to drive the engine of the happiest elders is a life to which I aspire.
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  • Y.S. Stephen
    January 1, 1970
    Happiness Is A Choice You Make is a documentation of a middle-aged man's experiences among six elderly acquaintances about what makes people happy and fulfilled.WHO WOULD ENJOY READING IT?If you love the spiritual, self-help, or personal development genre, then this is right up your alley.A word of warning, though - this is not a book with rah-rah, you-can-do-it, seven-steps-to-greatness ideas. A large chunk of it is full of discussions about diseases, aching bodes, amputated appendages, and dea Happiness Is A Choice You Make is a documentation of a middle-aged man's experiences among six elderly acquaintances about what makes people happy and fulfilled.WHO WOULD ENJOY READING IT?If you love the spiritual, self-help, or personal development genre, then this is right up your alley.A word of warning, though - this is not a book with rah-rah, you-can-do-it, seven-steps-to-greatness ideas. A large chunk of it is full of discussions about diseases, aching bodes, amputated appendages, and death. Yet it is a book brimming with laughter and hope. It is difficult to put into words, but if I would summarise it with fewer words, then this is it - RAW AND REAL. It is for people who love "raw and real".WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT ITIn an individualistic western culture where elderly advice is not sought often and mostly discarded when it is, I was curious to see a book that wants to engage with a community of the elderly. The demographic it engages is known for its pragmatism and this shows throughout the book. The six elders whose lives are portrayed here do not have anything to sell us and they are not hoping to be celebrities of some kind - they are old, living their lives the way they know how (with all their past mistakes, regrets...) and are in some way preparing for death. In spite of this, they seem to tell us unexpected things about what happiness means to them and how to bask in it. I had a great time with this book and cannot recommend it enough.Read more at: http://www.ysstephen.com/2018/01/happ...Many thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for review copy.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    I am as surprised as John Leland was at the lessons learned when he undertook (as a New York Times journalist) spending a year visiting and interviewing six elderly people. The people chosen were a very diverse group; married, single, several ethnicities, some with health and/or money issues, some without.He expected to find that the elderly among us are a rather glum, plodding lot, focused on their aches and pains. What he found instead were engaged, vital people, who have learned to take pleas I am as surprised as John Leland was at the lessons learned when he undertook (as a New York Times journalist) spending a year visiting and interviewing six elderly people. The people chosen were a very diverse group; married, single, several ethnicities, some with health and/or money issues, some without.He expected to find that the elderly among us are a rather glum, plodding lot, focused on their aches and pains. What he found instead were engaged, vital people, who have learned to take pleasure in the now, because they don't take tomorrow for granted. Overall, he notes that petty distractions seem to have been wiped away, their wants and needs are much more simplified and they are far less interested or caught up in material things. Physical disabilities are taken in stride because it is their normal - they don't fear it. They value their friendships and relationships, but also value their time alone. One participant stated (paraphrasing here) that they felt sorry for the young as they have more worries because they don't know what will happen in the future. Whereas the elderly don't worry about it. They know they can handle life's set-backs as they've been through many. They love that their days are their own to spend how they wish. They are generally happy with their lives; having a greater sense of contentment and are more satisfied with what they have.I love that John Leland expresses his joy and humbleness at the lessons this group of individuals taught him. He expected to come away from the visits depressed; instead he found he came away refreshed, with a new perspective on his own life. He's lucky to have learned the lessons the elderly can teach us all.Our American society tends to minimize, and often outright ignore, the elderly. Shame on us!! They have so much to teach us. This book is a good beginning!Many thanks to NetGalley, John Leland and Sarah Crichton Books for allowing me to read an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are strictly my own.
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