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
PublisherFarrar Straus and Giroux
ISBN-139780374168186
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Self Help, Psychology, Health, Death

Happiness Is a Choice You Make Review

  • Maggie
    January 1, 1970
    My non-fiction favorite book of 2018. I don't think it's #1 spot will be challenged. An uplifting, perspective-shaking & beautiful examination of the lives of 6 people over the age of 85. I would like to read this every year of my life, to make sure the wisdom in it continues to sink in and stay with me. No book has made me feel more grateful for everything in life, and just life in general, no matter what I'm stressing about, and actually in spite of any negatives (and, actually, I sometime My non-fiction favorite book of 2018. I don't think it's #1 spot will be challenged. An uplifting, perspective-shaking & beautiful examination of the lives of 6 people over the age of 85. I would like to read this every year of my life, to make sure the wisdom in it continues to sink in and stay with me. No book has made me feel more grateful for everything in life, and just life in general, no matter what I'm stressing about, and actually in spite of any negatives (and, actually, I sometimes felt gratitude FOR the negatives). My favorite quote: "So often we measure the day by what we do with it--cure cancer or surf in Maui or meet with our child's math teacher--and overlook what is truly miraculous, which is the arrival of another day. Enjoy it or not. The day doesn't care, but if you miss it, it won't be back again."
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  • Rachel Blakeman
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not sure why I bothered finishing this book. Would have been a great long form article but as a book it dragged on and felt like the lessons got lost along the way. Also didn't feel like I got much new insight about the wisdom of oldest of the old. It did however remind to appreciate my time with both my own grandmothers, with one living until 91 and the other until 101. I miss them but they live on our families' memories.
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  • Lesa
    January 1, 1970
    At the beginning of 2015, John Leland, a journalist for the New York Times, embarked on a year-long project. He met with seniors to come up with six people to follow to learn from them about being old, and what it means today. The result was a series in the newspaper and the book, Happiness is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a Year among the Oldest Old.One of the fastest growing groups in the United States is those over the age of eighty-five. They're now called "the oldest old". Leland intervie At the beginning of 2015, John Leland, a journalist for the New York Times, embarked on a year-long project. He met with seniors to come up with six people to follow to learn from them about being old, and what it means today. The result was a series in the newspaper and the book, Happiness is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a Year among the Oldest Old.One of the fastest growing groups in the United States is those over the age of eighty-five. They're now called "the oldest old". Leland interviewed a number of people before he found the group he would visit with and follow. He picked three men and three women, some still living independently, and some in nursing homes. Although he thought he would observe and write about them for the paper, he found himself learning how to live. With a marriage that had just ended, a mother in that age group, and a health issue, Leland learned how much he had to learn.Some of the information he uncovered confirmed expectations, while he was surprised by some of his discoveries. While married couples had longevity, he was surprised that widows lived just as long, making new friends and making new lives. But widowers, on average, lived shorter lives than married men. Leland thought the seniors lived longer lives, but at a loss of quality. What he learned is most of the seniors were satisfied with their quality of life, even if they had poor health. He discovered his lessons were "seminars less in aging than in living".The lessons are worth quoting. "Each elder had different lessons to teach: from Fred, the power of gratitude; from Ping, the choice to be happy; from John, acceptance of death; from Helen, learning to love and be needed; from Jonas, living with purpose; and from Ruth, nourishing the people who matter." If you read Leland's book, you'll meet all six of those elders, and a few of their family members. You'll encounter their memories, and their present. And, that's most important. Most of the elders are present for their current life. Only one of them dwells on the past because he had a long, contented life and he was ready to move on.In the end, Leland learned a lesson we should all accept. "The elders' gift to me was a simple one: a reminder that time is both limited and really amazing." There are lessons in this book for all of us, but that sentence does sum up John Leland's Happiness is a Choice You Make.
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  • Lynne Spreen
    January 1, 1970
    Happiness is a Choice You Make is the account of a yearlong conversation between a New York Times journalist and six people who are among the “oldest old” in America. The journalist, John Leland, was 57 as of the the time of this writing, and going through his own challenges. He was hoping to learn from these elders, and to share his findings with us. He did both brilliantly. Leland writes with compassion, humor, and incisiveness. I knew I was home when, in the very beginning of the book, his el Happiness is a Choice You Make is the account of a yearlong conversation between a New York Times journalist and six people who are among the “oldest old” in America. The journalist, John Leland, was 57 as of the the time of this writing, and going through his own challenges. He was hoping to learn from these elders, and to share his findings with us. He did both brilliantly. Leland writes with compassion, humor, and incisiveness. I knew I was home when, in the very beginning of the book, his elderly interview subjects answered his questions with platitudes or reminiscing about their youth, but he didn't settle for that. "...I was interested in what their lives were like now...How did they get through the day, and what were their hopes for the morrow? How did they manage...Was there a threshold at which life was no longer worth living?" He also writes with humor which leavens the weight of the topic.This was my main takeaway: It seems regular old people, not heroes or geniuses, but just everyday elders, might come to some ways of being that are essential for a good end of days (and might enhance our younger years as well.) What they know looks simple on the outside, but there’s an underlying complexity that takes a lifetime to develop and that the elders may not even sense they have. To them, it’s just life.Random highlights: --Leland writes, “Old age is a concept largely defined by people who have never lived it.” In other words, youth sees age-related decline and either recoils in horror/grief or conjures mythic fallacies to explain it. Yet Lelend, reporting back from the foreign land of the ultra-aged, says it's neither. It’s just a development. You work around it and keep living. No big deal.--The olders aren’t really wise. They’re just so experienced at adaptation that they do it without thinking, which is actually sheer genius. If we youngers weren’t so busy celebrating 90-year-old marathoners and other such freaks of nature, we’d notice the greater lessons available from and for more average humans.--The way elders see themselves holds the key to peace about what we fear in aging. For example: “...all (of the olders) seemed to redraw the line between what was acceptable and what was too much, pushing it just past their level of disability. Health problems that looked devastating to me looked to them like a part of life’s progress after 85--what was truly bad was always a step down the road.”--Another example: We look at a widow and think, how horrible that she has to live every day knowing her husband is gone. But olders, while they may relive grief, spend more time remembering the good. And how often have we heard that memories from our early lives stay with us more clearly than the newer ones? What a blessing!--Another: youth might draw back in horror at the short time horizon elders know they have, but for elders, this shortened horizon enriches the enjoyment of the now. For youth, who may have a sprawling 50 years to live, they wonder which paths to take, how best to maximize their work, etc. They're tormented at every turn by critical decisions. In contrast, for elders, their time limitation serves as a tightly bundled blanket; comforting in a weird way. They don’t have to worry about moving to Los Angeles or freezing their eggs. They have only to maximize today.--Another: lack of a mate might seem like a relief rather than a tragedy. “I can serve my own needs; I don’t have to worry about or wait on anybody else. I have long blocks of time in which I can just think, or whatever.”--Another: loneliness, like grief, regret, or frustration, comes and goes. It doesn’t define them. And rather than feel lonely, some decline may occur in the desire or need to socialize. I'm generalizing, but that seems like it would be a relief.These are random observations from the book. If I tried to highlight all the passages I found profound or valuable, it’d be pages and pages long. I highly recommend this book.
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  • Ericka Clouther
    January 1, 1970
    This is an interesting, thought-provoking book about old age and how to get the most quality of life. There is some science in it, but it's not a science-based book. Instead, it's based on a small number of long-term interviews. To a lesser extent, it's about facing the inevitability of death, but the focus here is on how to confront life now in order to be prepared for whatever form death takes. There are some valuable thoughts worth considering, and it has an overall inspiring tone I think a l This is an interesting, thought-provoking book about old age and how to get the most quality of life. There is some science in it, but it's not a science-based book. Instead, it's based on a small number of long-term interviews. To a lesser extent, it's about facing the inevitability of death, but the focus here is on how to confront life now in order to be prepared for whatever form death takes. There are some valuable thoughts worth considering, and it has an overall inspiring tone I think a lot of people would enjoy. For me, it doesn't go deep enough, it isn't scientific enough, and it doesn't make my top meaning-of-life books. (But it did just inspire me to go back and add that tag to a bunch of books.)
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  • Terri Suda
    January 1, 1970
    Borrowed it from my public library, purchasing it for my permanent shelf as a reference and reminder to what's essential, important and true about living life well and in the moment. Loved every word and every lesson. Essential reading.
  • Terry Mensching
    January 1, 1970
    my mother once said; "who wants to live to 90?" answer; "an 89 year old." What I got out of this book is; If you live a long time, you know how to do it regardless of your circumstancesLoved it..
  • Maria
    January 1, 1970
    This is a poignant, life-affirming, and inspiring little book with a huge message. Absolutely required reading for everyone who hopes to live a good, long life.
  • David
    January 1, 1970
    i'm usually not a fan of authors' making it all [or a lot] about them, but in this case I found it a charming touch that the author, in his early middle years [or at any rate that's how i think of being in mid-50s] with an elderly Mom and in the wake of a recent divorce, focuses quite a bit on what HE can get out of becoming closely acquainted with six NYC-residing oldest-old [85+] people. They make an appealing, seemingly realistic group with a range of attitudes, experiences, health statuses, i'm usually not a fan of authors' making it all [or a lot] about them, but in this case I found it a charming touch that the author, in his early middle years [or at any rate that's how i think of being in mid-50s] with an elderly Mom and in the wake of a recent divorce, focuses quite a bit on what HE can get out of becoming closely acquainted with six NYC-residing oldest-old [85+] people. They make an appealing, seemingly realistic group with a range of attitudes, experiences, health statuses, and family connections. In the end, the author's takeaways are not really all that surprising (be grateful, don't worry so much about unimportant stuff, nurture your social ties, cultivate a sense of purpose........), but his candor re the process of learning from elders makes for an enjoyable read."Before I met the six people in this book, if I thought about my old age at all, I imagined it to be like my present life, only with everything good stripped away -- eyesight, mobility, sex, independence, purpose, dignity. In their place I imagined constant back pain and a home that smelled funny. Maybe I would run out of money or recede into senile dementia." (p. 221).I think what helped him the most in adjusting this view of aging was getting outside his own head and looking at individual lives from the perspective of their inhabitants. This comes through clearest in the parts about a woman balancing a late-life gentleman caller with her somewhat disapproving daughter, but it's important for the rest as well. The woman who gets her fill of other people via a daily game of mah-jonngg at which no one talks very much is doing something that might strike a lot of the young people as boring and demoralizing, but it's her routine and fits her personality. When a few falls cause her to be jacked up to a higher and more restrictive level of care, such that she misses the game, its importance to her well-being comes more clearly into focus.so yeah live like you were dying, don't hold grudges, etc. etc., but also stop imagining that old people who strike you as boring are necessarily bored themselves. Bottom line: We LIKE watching Jeopardy and playing along, and we're not going to stop reading the print newspaper. Thanks in advance for your understanding.
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  • George
    January 1, 1970
    KINDA DEPRESSING.“Old age was the gift that kept on taking.” (p. 25)I’ve been a self-help, happiness junkie for as long as I can remember; so the title of John Leland’s recently released non-fiction: Happiness Is a Choice You Make set all sorts of Pavlovian bells ringing for me. I had to read this book.Leland did an admirable job of hitting all the right ‘happiness’ chords—attitude, gratitude, purpose, usefulness, camaraderie, and happy-in-spite-of vs. happy-if-only. It was in that catchy subtit KINDA DEPRESSING.“Old age was the gift that kept on taking.” (p. 25)I’ve been a self-help, happiness junkie for as long as I can remember; so the title of John Leland’s recently released non-fiction: Happiness Is a Choice You Make set all sorts of Pavlovian bells ringing for me. I had to read this book.Leland did an admirable job of hitting all the right ‘happiness’ chords—attitude, gratitude, purpose, usefulness, camaraderie, and happy-in-spite-of vs. happy-if-only. It was in that catchy subtitle: Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old, though, that the fear and despondency seeps through. Severely diminished capacities and capabilities, and dependency on others, is scary. I commend John Leland for his research and presentation, and appreciate his writing on such a difficult subject. I only wish a bit more hopefulness could have seeped through. “Wonder, too, is a choice you make.” (p. 210).Recommendation: This book did not leave me whistling a happy tune. Professional and personal caregivers to the elderly, however, should find value in these pages. Those of us mere minutes away from joining the oldest old might also benefit some from facing inevitability—tough, real tough, though it might be. “Have you ever thought about how amazing, really amazing, life is?” (p. 210)Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition, 244 pages.
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  • Julie Barrett
    January 1, 1970
    Solid 3 stars. I wanted to love this book but honestly, it wasn't anything too eye opening. Still enjoyable to read. Basically, what the author learned in a year of hanging out with 6 old people is carpe diem. In the words of Ram Dass, "be here now". Of course, that is easier said than done for many people, myself and the author included.One of the 6 people Leland follows does basically that when younger - always living in the moment - and he pays for it when he is elderly. Out of his 6 kids by Solid 3 stars. I wanted to love this book but honestly, it wasn't anything too eye opening. Still enjoyable to read. Basically, what the author learned in a year of hanging out with 6 old people is carpe diem. In the words of Ram Dass, "be here now". Of course, that is easier said than done for many people, myself and the author included.One of the 6 people Leland follows does basically that when younger - always living in the moment - and he pays for it when he is elderly. Out of his 6 kids by 4 women(never married) only 1 sometimes speaks to him, he didn't save any money for retirement(yet his city pension is too much for him to qualify for govt aid) and he didn't think ahead about his living arrangements and gets trapped living in an apartment on the top floor without an elevator. He is the Grasshopper in Aesop's fable The Ant & The Grasshopper. He's still an optimist and an extrovert when he is elderly but I found it hard not to shake my head in sorrow at the difficult position he found himself. I though, am more like the Ant so it's hard to comprehend his mindset.What I enjoyed most from this book was not the individual stories - though those were nice - but the research Leland did about aging in America. As a 50 year old with parents who turn 87 & 89 this year, I found the information presented very relevant and useful. I need to remind myself that "old age is not a problem to be fixed but a stage of life." My default reaction is to fix, push for change, overcome. "Medicine and lifestyle changes can delay the onset of problems in old age, not eliminate them." There is only so much one can do. Of course, what we can do - with medicine & lifestyle changes - is to add to the middle of life, instead of adding to the end of life. That is, we can prolong the healthy stage of life so the end - suffering & death - is shortened. The term for this is compression of morbidity. That is what I am aiming for!Leland writes about what the elderly think about as they look back on life. The questions one asks oneself when facing death. "How did my life matter?" "Was my time well spent?" "What can I look back upon with pride?" "What did I mean to others?" "Did I love the right people?" During his conversations over the year, none of the 6 really talked about work or money at all. It was all about relationships with others. It made me think of Harvard's Grant Study, a 75-year longitudinal study of 268 Harvard college sophomores from the classes of 1939–1944. The main takeaway from the study? That good relationships are the key to a happy life. Something to keep in mind as we all scurry to work in order to earn in order to consume. In the end it boils down to other people, not stuff.
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  • Caitlin
    January 1, 1970
    I hope that people don't dismiss Happiness Is a Choice You Make as another bit of platitudinous fluff based on the title. It is by far the best non-fiction book I've read this year. If you can get a paper copy as well as the audiobook, I highly recommend it. I started out reading a library copy, and loved seeing pictures of "the elders," but life got in the way of my having enough time to sit and make much progress with it, so I downloaded it on Audible and finished up that way. The narrator (wh I hope that people don't dismiss Happiness Is a Choice You Make as another bit of platitudinous fluff based on the title. It is by far the best non-fiction book I've read this year. If you can get a paper copy as well as the audiobook, I highly recommend it. I started out reading a library copy, and loved seeing pictures of "the elders," but life got in the way of my having enough time to sit and make much progress with it, so I downloaded it on Audible and finished up that way. The narrator (who is not the author) does a great job, and has a warm, pleasing voice, but the surprise at the end is really what made the audio copy worth any price you pay.
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  • diane diener
    January 1, 1970
    Everyone should read this book. Well written and we'll worth the timeEveryone should read this book. Well written and well worth the time. A subject we all are intimately involved with
  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    An enjoyable, contemplative look at what makes life worth living through the eyes of the oldest among us. Leland spent a year interviewing six elderly men and women, including his own aging mother. It’s powerful considering what keeps us going and what we can learn from the elderly.
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  • Holly
    January 1, 1970
    When New York Times journalist John Leland set out to interview six economically and racially diverse octo- and nonagenarians over the course of a year, he thought he would leave the meetings anxious and depressed by their physical and emotional challenges. And at times he came away concerned for their safety and wellbeing. But he quickly discovered that the elderly themselves are hopeful. Without the worries of career, family, and relationships, the old enjoy the present more fully than the you When New York Times journalist John Leland set out to interview six economically and racially diverse octo- and nonagenarians over the course of a year, he thought he would leave the meetings anxious and depressed by their physical and emotional challenges. And at times he came away concerned for their safety and wellbeing. But he quickly discovered that the elderly themselves are hopeful. Without the worries of career, family, and relationships, the old enjoy the present more fully than the young. Leland’s findings affirm the wisdom of old age and defy the notion that youth equals happiness.It wasn’t the trite self-help title that made me pick this up, but the subtitle and the comparisons to Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal. There will always be room for improvement in the way our society deals with the growing population of the elderly and the accompanying healthcare and housing needs. I like the diversity in the New Yorkers Leland selected to follow and the studies he uses to back up his findings. The seniors themselves are interesting characters and I was inspired by their overall positivity. Instead of focusing on the choices they don’t have, they live in the now and practice gratitude more than any other age group. I would’ve liked more science and more concise conclusions but as it is, the book is an uplifting, insightful view of aging and a delightful audiobook that saw me through the snowy months.
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  • Terri
    January 1, 1970
    This book deserves a better title. It's an insightful look at a year in the lives of a half dozen elderly folks. How they cope with diminished capabilities, their attitudes towards dying and living. It's easy for us to forget that older people are unique and have their own views. Leland celebrates them all.
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  • Kristine
    January 1, 1970
    Happiness is a Choice You Make by John Leland is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late January.Words of wisdom from 6 elders as part of Leland's 85 and Up series. Their stories are neither fully feast or famine (complete ability or disability) and, quite frankly, it's so much better that way. Each emphasize the necessity to keep busy with the hobbies and interests that they love, to readjusting goals and daily activities to their personal, physical, and mental capabilities. Relative to the Happiness is a Choice You Make by John Leland is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late January.Words of wisdom from 6 elders as part of Leland's 85 and Up series. Their stories are neither fully feast or famine (complete ability or disability) and, quite frankly, it's so much better that way. Each emphasize the necessity to keep busy with the hobbies and interests that they love, to readjusting goals and daily activities to their personal, physical, and mental capabilities. Relative to the title, happiness should be found in the present moment, intimacy and close friendships, with individual, interview-format life stories that are tied somewhat to scientific/mental health stats on aging.
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  • Dawn
    January 1, 1970
    Wisdom UnfoldsWonderful lessons. Interesting and well written. Personable. I enjoyed how he wrote the lesson from each individual and then shared with readers how he related that lesson to his own life.
  • Deborah Hebblewhite
    January 1, 1970
    Wonderful meditation on life and how we find meaning. Made me realize there are lessons to learn from people who have lived much longer than I have.Interesting quote from the book . . .But what is old age? To a great extent we’ve made it a verdict, something that happens to people who didn’t have the good sense to take up yoga before it was too late, meaning roughly their twenties. Which is to say, old age is a concept largely defined by the people who have never lived it.
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  • Jenn
    January 1, 1970
    This was a sweet story of a journalist trying to work out his own issues around aging for himself and his mother through developing relationships with a handful of elders. Their stories are all so different and their responses to aging vary. Several of them are ready to die - not suicidal -and grateful of the lives they've lead and all the good that has come their way. Some of them live in the past -- reliving pleasant memories through pictures, stories and surrounding themselves with the epheme This was a sweet story of a journalist trying to work out his own issues around aging for himself and his mother through developing relationships with a handful of elders. Their stories are all so different and their responses to aging vary. Several of them are ready to die - not suicidal -and grateful of the lives they've lead and all the good that has come their way. Some of them live in the past -- reliving pleasant memories through pictures, stories and surrounding themselves with the ephemera of times gone by. The oldest, Jonas, lives in the present and continues doing work in the arts -- he seemed like the most interesting one of all of them.The author follows each elder through ups and downs over the course of a year, and becomes friends with them and their family. The stories seem a bit rambling and repetitive -- the "lessons" get lost a bit in the narrative of their lives, past and present.Overall, however, the message is as clear as the findings in Jonathan Rauch's book "The Happiness Curve." The elders adapt their expectations to their ability and their situation. We spend our time and energy on things that give us satisfaction rather than lamenting what we can no longer do. This is described as "socioemotional selectivity," "“knowing they face a limited time in front of them, focus their energies on things that give them pleasure in the moment, whereas young people, with long horizons, seek out new experiences or knowledge that may or may not pay off down the line."This includes letting go of unpleasant memories, and recalling the good times. They become more altruistic and accepting of things that they will never know."Wisdom leads to better decision-making and more realistic expectations, less disappointment when things don’t work out."As we get older, our expectations change. Mostly, we don't know how we'll be when we become elderly -- it's a foreign land. For the author, "Each elder had different lessons to teach: from Fred, the power of gratitude; from Ping, the choice to be happy; from John, acceptance of death; from Helen, learning to love and be needed; from Jonas, living with purpose; and from Ruth, nourishing the people who matter. For centuries societies had relied on elders for these lessons and more."Our author started off with a sense of duty, obligation and burden toward his mother's choices in her independence and desire to be done with life. He transitioned to a place where he could accept her decisions and see her instead as "an agreeable dinner companion" who had a lot of life experience and had a lot to share. "As I started to dial back my sense of fulfilling an obligation, I enjoyed my visits with her more. My mother has a great, dry sense of humor." Perhaps that the big lesson for caretakers of the elderly: they are adults with desires and wishes, and the drain that caretakers feel in executing their role may be due to the conflict in working against these wishes and desires instead of accepting them.The author also reexamined his life generally: how much unnecessary stuff was in his life? Clothing, friends, activities -- that was keeping him busy but not making him happy? He also began a practice of gratitude and mindfulness to better enjoy and appreciate today. "Instead of fighting for my way at work, I thanked my editors for making my writing better; I asked advice instead of feeling I should know all the answers."Relationships and establishing interdependence is also an important part of finding happiness in old age (Note to offspring of my siblings: at least one of these elders was being cared for by a niece!). Finally, purpose is a tremendous tool to keep focus and make life enjoyable. It also allows one to cut out things that are not related to that purpose -- interestingly, the observations and lessons are very similar to what I am finding in current management books about leadership. Leaders must develop self-awareness of their values, find a purpose/vision, be aware of/grateful for what people are doing for them and what those people need, and maintain strong relationships to achieve shared goals. Overall, it just seems like generally good advice for anyone at any age!One of my favorite quotes from Jonas, the eldest of the group:“I would say, that I am applying the ‘butterfly wing’ theory to my everyday life,” he wrote. “It’s a kind of moral dictum, moral responsibility to keep in mind that whatever I do this second affects what the next second will be. So I try not to do anything negative, which is my best insurance that the world will be better next second, or at least not worse. But of course, my positive action may be undermined by 100 negative actions of others and so it may mean nothing. But I still have to follow that dictum. You can call it optimism.”In the end -- I do believe this book could have been a bit shorter, and a bit less rambling or repetitive. The balance of the author's internal processing and memories were interesting and could have been expanded a bit more to make this a richer read.
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  • Jane
    January 1, 1970
    Being in the moment, enjoying what I have, and not lamenting what I don't are all lessons I can get behind. I don't gain anything by wishing circumstances were different.
  • Patricia
    January 1, 1970
    I appreciated the stories and the wisdom. This book gave me a lot to think about.
  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    Leland spends a year with six older adults in and around NYC. They are all 85 or older at the time, and they each find ways to find happiness despite some of the losses of advanced age. Fred is a well-dressed ladies man who is grateful for waking up to a new day. He has some problems with mobility, but he's full of gratitude and enjoys life's simple pleasures. Ping enjoys playing mah-johng and socializes with several other Chinese-Americans. She has to move during that year, which requires her t Leland spends a year with six older adults in and around NYC. They are all 85 or older at the time, and they each find ways to find happiness despite some of the losses of advanced age. Fred is a well-dressed ladies man who is grateful for waking up to a new day. He has some problems with mobility, but he's full of gratitude and enjoys life's simple pleasures. Ping enjoys playing mah-johng and socializes with several other Chinese-Americans. She has to move during that year, which requires her to make some adjustments. She has trouble with arthritis and cognition, but she also does some translation work for her landlord and shares information about how to maximize social services. John talks frequently about being ready to die. Nevertheless, he finds a lot of joy in music and in relishing memories of his long-time partner, Walter. John has a niece who gives him support, and he has a lot of younger friends from fire island. Helen lost her husband, but she has a much younger boyfriend at her assisted living facility. Howard has some trouble with cognition and mobility, but Helen loves fussing over him, and he is very sweet with her. Helen's daughter finds this romance a little threatening, but Helen works to keep the peace. Ruth has daughter who fuss on her, but Ruth pushes back to maintain as much independence as she can manage. She spends the most time with the most extended family members among those that Leland profiles in his book. Jonas is the most active in the bunch. He is a film maker, a writer, and a public speaker. He attends a lot of cultural events as an audience member and as a featured artist. He survived being a Lithuanian when the Soviets occupied his country, and he was imprisoned by the Nazis. He remembers seeing several famous actors and musicians from decades prior, and he keeps up with the up-and-coming creatives in Manhattan. Leland himself reflects on his own aging process as well as his mother's, using this book as a way to reflect on the role that gratitude, social engagement, and purpose contribute to a person's happiness. At times I found the book repetitive. Leland probably mentions sixty times that Helen found purpose by caring for Howard. But I ended up buying the book after placing post-it notes on my library copy on nearly every page. His interview participants are engaging, and Leland connects their experience with key research by gerontologists, sociologists, psychologists, and medical researchers. Some of this research I've already read as a gerontologist, but Leland draws on several studies that I haven't read yet. Consequently, I plan on mining his sources. In invigorating, thoughtful read.
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  • Gina
    January 1, 1970
    "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 w "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. I so enjoyed this wonderful book, which chronicles the lives of 6 New Yorkers living in their 80's, 90s and beyond. They all have their share of age-related impairments. But Leland shows that when all the striving of mid-life falls away, what is left is a surprising amount of contentment. That's good news since more people than ever before are living to age 90 and beyond. These pioneers are scoping out the new frontier for us. The book is a great reminder of what really matters. This book is so well written and really contains wisdom for living well at any age. Insightful as well as discouraging at times but very informational. I'm glad I read this little treasure.
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  • Ellyn Lem
    January 1, 1970
    This book might not seem like it would be a "fun read," but I thought it was fantastic--how one middle-aged NY Times reporter going through some life crises spent a year with six senior citizens who taught him how to make the most of one's life. The six individuals he focused on had different enough stories that Leland could bring out different lessons from his interactions with him, which he laces with current sociological and medical research. It was interesting to learn, for example, that peo This book might not seem like it would be a "fun read," but I thought it was fantastic--how one middle-aged NY Times reporter going through some life crises spent a year with six senior citizens who taught him how to make the most of one's life. The six individuals he focused on had different enough stories that Leland could bring out different lessons from his interactions with him, which he laces with current sociological and medical research. It was interesting to learn, for example, that people are routinely grateful for what they have experience far fewer health woes than individuals who concentrate on what is wrong in their lives. Two quotes from the book that I would like to remember come from two different elders. The first was from Ping, who emigrated from Hong Kong many years ago, and mostly enjoyed her life in subsidized housing with few financial resources due to her rich collection of friends who spoke her same dialect. Despite her usually upbeat disposition, she describes aging as: "When you're old, everything is change change change." This, I could completely see and understand. The second came from a friend of the author Robert Moss who was directing plays into his 80s. When asked how he was able to accomplish what he has, his answer was perfect: "I never though about what would happen if it rained." Words to live by.
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  • Maria
    January 1, 1970
    Leland, a reporter for The New York Times spent a year interviewing 6 seniors over the age of 85 about living and growing old. Over repeated visits and interviews, he learned about living in the present, being happy and accepting yourself and your weaknesses.Why I started this book: I checked out the book on the title alone...Why I finished it: The audio was a little repetitive... which bothered me until I remembered how many times my Grandmother told certain stories from her life. Leland undoub Leland, a reporter for The New York Times spent a year interviewing 6 seniors over the age of 85 about living and growing old. Over repeated visits and interviews, he learned about living in the present, being happy and accepting yourself and your weaknesses.Why I started this book: I checked out the book on the title alone...Why I finished it: The audio was a little repetitive... which bothered me until I remembered how many times my Grandmother told certain stories from her life. Leland undoubted listened over and over again to these fascinating stories.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    This book comes from Leland’s series on living past 85 for the NYT. Better than average, but not mind blowing lessons about living in the moment and finding little joys etc. Good reminders that the people who have the best experience in old age are those who believe that old age is a good phase - this mental attitude adds more to your health than quitting smoking or taking up yoga. I’m always a proponent in the reverse planning theory as well - think about what a satisfying old age looks like fo This book comes from Leland’s series on living past 85 for the NYT. Better than average, but not mind blowing lessons about living in the moment and finding little joys etc. Good reminders that the people who have the best experience in old age are those who believe that old age is a good phase - this mental attitude adds more to your health than quitting smoking or taking up yoga. I’m always a proponent in the reverse planning theory as well - think about what a satisfying old age looks like for you and then reverse engineer from now to get there.
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  • John Kaufmann
    January 1, 1970
    Solid. Leland wrote about life lessons from six "extraordinary" elders he has met over the years. There are some good insights, and it is an interesting read. I thought about giving it four stars to distinguish it from several similar books about aging to which I gave only three stars - but I'm not sure it quite rises to four stars. Nonetheless, it has some good insights.
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  • Andrea McGinnis
    January 1, 1970
    An excellent read. I only had 2 days to read this book as a number of books had become available from holds all at once. Very captivating stories of 6 folks approaching the last few years of their lives. So many life lessons.....
  • Brandi Quanrud
    January 1, 1970
    This book was a wonderful uplifting read. It challenges what getting old really means. I love the advice from the Elders on how to live in the now and really enjoy the life you’re currently living no matter your age.
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