Senior Lifestyles

Consistent joy: Tried-and-true tips for finding happiness

People seem to put a lot of energy into being happy these days. Why are so many struggling to achieve their definition of happiness?

In my Facebook group, members express concerns about finding happiness, and many appear to discover it. In general, people want financial stability, good health, money in the bank, food on the table, good friends, an enjoyable hobby or two and satisfying activities. That’s not a lot to ask for, right?

Over the years, I’ve learned that the word “happy” can be deceptive. If I judge my happiness based on the perception of others’ happiness or a particular status, then that kind of judgment will sabotage me.

What I’ve found is that some truly believe that happiness is like a gene, and whether you’re born with it or not depends on your birth status and heritage. Others believe that it’s a mindset of positive thinking, and I favor this theory over any other. However, those who suffer from mental illnesses like depression will argue against this, and rightfully so. For them, the brain cannot create happy feelings. Don’t think that an unhappy, depressed person is simply not doing enough to create a better outlook. Unless you’ve experienced depression, it’s hard to grasp.

If you want to find consistent contentment, joy and happiness, following are a few tried-and-true skills I’ve learned to apply.

• Be grateful for what you have and don’t focus on what you don’t have. The biggest lesson for me was to be thankful. Each day I take a few minutes to list a few things I’m grateful for in life.

• Don’t compare yourself to others. This is a very deceiving influence. A savvy therapist once told me, “A situation is never as it seems. If you’d walk in their shoes, you’d see an entirely different side.”

• Give to others. People crave attention and connection. I make it a habit to greet people with a smile no matter where I am.

• Do the things you enjoy or learn how to do the things you want to do. Go back to school or take a class if it requires a skill. For me, it was writing. It’s taken a couple of years and a few classes, but I’m doing it.

• Change your life if you can. For years, I’ve yearned to live in a walkable community. After much deliberation and forethought, I now live in a place that fits me and how I want to live.

• Forgive those who have hurt you or try to control you. And more importantly, forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made. Ask those you’ve hurt to forgive you. Then, let it go.

Carol Marak is an aging advocate, columnist and editor at She earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

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