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.Read more...
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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.
- ISBN-13: 9780374168186
- ISBN-10: 0374168180
- Publisher: Farrar Straus and Giroux
- Publish Date: January 2018
- Page Count: 256
- Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.8 pounds
Respect your elders
In 2015, John Leland wrote a series of articles for the New York Times that examined the conditions and outlooks of three men and three women who, at that time, were between the ages of 87 and 92. He’s now chronicled that experience in Happiness Is a Choice You Make.
The common denominator of old age, Leland found, is a more or less graceful acceptance of the inevitable, not just of escalating physical limitations but of the awareness that each day may be one’s last and, thus, should be savored for what it has to offer. Even those who complained they were tired of living were not in despair. They had their days and moments of joy: Fred reveled in memories of his times as a sharp-dressed man-about-town. Helen, after losing her husband, discovered a second love and a reason to go on in Howie, a wheelchair-bound fellow resident in her nursing home. John, nearly blind and bereft of his longtime lover, listened to opera for inspiration or squinted at a video of his favorite musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
“[O]ld age is a concept largely defined by the people who have never lived it,” Leland observes. “We do ourselves a big favor not to be scared of growing old, but to embrace the mixed bag that the years have to offer, however severe the losses.”