Sunday, December 09, 2018

Weekly Inspiration: Happiness Is a Choice

Last month, for Nonfiction November, one of the nonfiction books I listened to on audio was Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons From a Year Among the Oldest Old by John Leland. You can read my full review of the book at the link to my book blog.

I really loved this unique, fascinating, and inspiring book. The author is a journalist who spent a full year interviewing and spending time with six elderly people in New York City (details at my review link), all over age 85. My father-in-law is 93 years old, so this book gave me some insights into his life...but I was surprised to find that many of the lessons from the elderly apply perfectly to a life of chronic illness. They are often living with all kinds of physical ailments, plus just age itself has forced them to slow down, and their lives are often defined now by limits. Sound familiar?

Even though I was listening on audio, I frequently hit pause to rewind and write passages in my Quote Journal. Here are a few of my favorites:
"Here was a lesson in acceptance and adaptation. In a culture that constantly tells us to overcome our limitations, sometimes it is more productive to find ways to live with them."

"Problems were only problems if you thought about them that way. Otherwise, they were life and yours for the living."

"Here was a lesson on the myth of control. If you believed you were in control of your life, steering it in the direction of your choosing, then old age was an affront because it was a destination you didn't choose. But if you think of life instead as an improvisation in response to the stream of events coming at you - that is, a response to the world as it is - then old age is another chapter in a long-running story."

          - from Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons From a Year Among the Oldest Old by John Leland

See what I mean? Each of these applies to my father-in-law's experience but also to mine, just in my 50's, as someone with chronic illness (and really, everyone, whether ill or not, could benefit from giving up trying to control everything!). That last one is especially powerful - just substitute chronic illness for old age.

This book really spoke to me and made me think...but it was also entertaining and enjoyable. By the end of it, I felt as if I had spent time with these six elderly people myself. I definitely recommend it - either in print or on audio.

You can listen to a sample of the audio here.

Hope you are having a good weekend!

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