The 5 Reasons I get Happier as I get Older…

Long past the grim-dark of midnight, in a loud and crowded bar somewhere in the red-brick old town of Edinburgh, I found myself talking with a friend who was well and truly down in her cups due to a recently ‘celebrated’ birthday.

As the conversation unfolded, she repeatedly invited me to commiserate with her on the general unfairness of aging and the perceived dearth of her bright glow youth; to which I replied that, in all honestly, as I have gotten older I have noticed myself becoming markedly happier.

Sitting up suddenly, alert, incredulous, (and swaying not a little) she blurted: ‘How is that even possible?’.

This post is my answer to that question.

3
Oh! Time, you cruel bitch… 😉

The 25th of July is my given birthday.  And on that date in 2015 I will be 37 years old.

Since my later childhood, with each year that has passes, I become happier.  This is not intended to be a boast, nor is it hubris or hyperbole, it is merely the truth.  This upward trend in the quality of my inner life has been consistent enough, and has continued for a long enough span of time that, at this point it cannot be ascribed to mere happenstance or luck.  The truth of the matter is that, far from being accidental, I believe the lions share of this utterly welcome phenomenon is down to five things that I actively: do, focus on, and cultivate in my day-to-day.

Would you like to know what they are?

#1 Meditation:

I have written before about what I consider to be the real value of meditation.  This practice, along with the process of doing my work, may well be the greatest tool and gift I have received in my life.

Imagine each day were a journey you had to take by car.  Every morning you must climb into the driver’s seat and set off on the road until you reach your destination.  The problem is, every day the windshield and mirrors are thick grimed with dust and the handbrake has reset to the ‘on’ position.  So you are faced with a choice.  You can rush to get started and drive your drive, hardly able to see the road ahead with the brakes all-screaming in your ears or… you could take a little time before you set off each morning to clean the dust from your windshield and mirror, and release the handbrake.

Meditation has had a global effect on my life.  It has made everything better.

#2 The Physical:

I work out most days for at least an hour, and have done so for a long time and, strange as it may seem, the physical gains (while a welcome side benefit), are not the primary driver behind this particular behaviour.

Long ago I noted that: on days that I work out, I am able to be a better person; both for myself and for the people around me.  I am able to work harder for longer, to sustain focus, and create things of a much higher quality.  I am able to be kinder, calmer, more compassionate, and more loving.

On days that I work out, I operate at a different frequency.

#3 Reading and Study:

I have written previously on this blog about some of the reasons why I think reading is so important.  I have also posted about how many books I read each month.  Something I haven’t said thus far is: the real reason that I read so widely is to find the books that I can read deeply.  Books that hold information and knowledge that, when contemplated, can literally change the way a person looks at things, feels about things, the way that someone acts in the world.

These books have gifted me benefits too innumerable to recount.

#4 A Good Work:

A huge part of my happiness and satisfaction in life comes from doing a work that I love, that creates real value for others.

I have shaped my whole life around this idea, and the road has not always been easy, but I would honestly pay the price a thousand times over, and a thousand times more to be where I am right now.

Why?  Because doing a work that you love that adds value to the world is, in my humble opinion, what is meant by: living the Good Life.

#5 Good Relationships:

As ever, I have saved the most important for last.

I count myself lucky to be able to say, without reservation, that the greatest source of active joy in my life are the people that I love.  My partner, my true friends, my chosen family, and my audience.  The relationships I have been fortunate enough to: stumble upon,  find, nurture, or build, have given me something which lives well outside the borders of usual descriptive language.

The nearest I can get to it is to say that: in my life, I have never felt a deep connection with a specific place or location; instead, it is these primary relationships that have rendered within me the greatest feelings of love, the deepest sense of community, and the truest experiences of the meaning of the word: ‘home‘.

They are, quite literally, my everything.

Thankyou for reading this.

– J

[Note: Those are my five things – What are yours?  What are some of the things that you do or focus on in your life that make you happier year on year?  Please let me know in the comments section.]


My name is James Radcliffe and I am a 100% audience supported independent artist.  If you like what I do (and can afford it) then please consider buying some of my music.  Each purchase really makes a big difference to me and 10% of every sale goes to a charity which: houses, feeds, clothes, and educates orphaned children in Nepal.

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42 Comments

  1. Enjoyed your post on aging. These are the things that will keep you thru to old age. One I would add is always have a sense of humour. The older I get the more I thank God I have one. It doesn’t bother me most of the time aging. Mostly I laugh at the silliness of it. And in those other moments wine is good well wine is always good.
    I haven’t done meditating but on your advice I will try it out, always meant to. And I couldn’t agree more on the reading and learning. And of course Love in whatever form that takes in ones life. There must be Love.

    Thank you for you blogs and beautiful music. My day is already better

    Deborah

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou so much, this really means a lot to me.
      I agree, humour is a must! Also wine. Wine can be the good 😉
      It makes me so happy to hear that you are planning to try meditating – feel free to let me know how it goes, it has made a huge positive difference in my life.
      And love. Yes. Of course.
      Always love.
      You made me smile. Have a great night,
      – J

      Like

  2. “I operate at a different frequency”, my absolute favourite sentence in this post, although there are so many. I haven’t had a chance to read all of your work yet but I will because I found your account on twitter, I don’t use it much, but when I do, I’m drawn to the words you write, because they are so thoughtful, intention, beautiful and create that connection of community you are building. Thank you for creating and sharing your work!! Christy

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How did I miss this article(another one, lol)?! This is perfect James. I’m so loving this.
    Oh yes, Time can be a cruel bitch. But don’t let it take over, ever! And you are so right, it seems the older you get the better it feels, yeah I know, sometimes you just don’t want to bother and for others is just blah, but I believe it’s also part of nature. Just deal with it, you have that power. Do what you like, and know that life is beautiful which ever way you chose to live it.
    Have you ever heard the phrase, “Act your age” ?? I laugh when someone is talking about this and they were told by someone else. How are we suppose to act our age? We have never been this age before. That’s the beauty of it, is it not? To live in the moment and never take it for granted.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Everyone has their own ways of living, but with a controlled view of our lives any of us can live better lives, I’m in the process of writing something of the same, it’s called This Side of Heaven. At the heart of it is one belief I stand by, that is to learn from the bad or harsh; but keeping the good in your life. Well happy birthday to you, another year to refine the benefits of your life parameters. Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. James, as a former librarian I can tell you that literature can hold up a mirror to ourselves and show us who and who not we wish to be. Armed with that self knowledge we can go on to re-create our best selves. I suggest looking at Pulitzer prize winners in literature for a to read list, just a beginning. I have just finished reading “Into the Beautiful North” by Luis Alberto Urrea

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m turning 65 and am definitely the happiest I’ve ever been. I essentially follow your prescription for happiness. What helps me also are the following
    1. Eating clean and healthy foods
    2. Having a relationship with a G-d of my understanding
    3. Doing service and helping others
    4. Creating body flexibility with yoga and tai chi
    5. Sharing my feelings with others
    Be well
    Moshe

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post James. I relate to your words about getting older. I love being in my 30s and a lot happier now… more than I’ve ever been before. I like the 5 things you listed too… good list to live by. Thank you for visting my blog. Means I was able to find yours… enjoyed reading some of your posts. Have a great week. Lisa ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Good words, if only all of us thought about these things rather than, striving desperately for possessions and self interest. It appears to me from the outside that creating music focusses attention on life, experiences and priorities. The result seems to be a high level appreciation of what is important to you. Thanks for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Five things is a short list. I feel happy I am comfortable, have options, feel free, hear, see, taste that life is good. I am older and feel happy. I remember that happy is a visitor that if you are careful, will stay a while. For now I can say it, but that it could be taken away from me at any second and who knows. If something comes along to tip the balance I will live with that, question the situation. I try never to take it for granted. So here I am being happy, for now, in this moment, thankfully.

    Like

    1. I really like this note.
      Your viewpoint seems very Stoic / Buddhist (school of philosophy) which is quite beautiful. Especially the part about accepting that you may lose things (in this case, happiness) and becoming OK with that ahead of time.
      You are a wise woman 😉
      Have a great day,
      – J

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Nicely stated, James. So many people seem afraid–or even angry–about aging. It’s a privelage. We are fortunate. We’re on a journey…and there’s more to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love your outlook towards life because of how positive it is and how it focuses on creating value for oneself and others. It also echoes with how I feel about life so honestly I could not agree more with every point in this blog post. I think that the 5 points you mentioned here are like the keys to happiness for anyone who wishes to lead a happy life. I hope you continue to create value, feel and share happiness all your life 🙂

    I also enjoyed reading your post on meditation and your attempt to define meditation as being present in the moment. How very true! That is indeed the essence of meditation.

    On an aside, I came across your blog when you liked a post of mine on spaces. Thank you for visiting and leading me to your blog 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey there,
      Thanks so much for this. It is always really nice to get feedback which is just all the way positive. Made me smile wide. 😉
      I agree with everything you said here, and am really glad that you came to my blog thru my appreciation of yours.
      Hope you are having a good night, feel free to hit me up anytime,
      – J

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great insight and I agree with you whole heartedly. I need to schedule the time to meditate. I also read – a lot! I am currently a student and tend to read more than the required reading. I love to walk in nature everyday. That’s active meditating I guess.

    What you seem to be saying is that we need to live deliberately. Make good choices and carry them out. The way I was living (until 3 years ago) was a robot to the routine of my life. And now? Now I promise myself each morning that I will write. That I will read. That I will create art. These activities are my therapy and my happiness organically blooms from them.

    Great read, thanks for sharing and giving me new ways to grow my happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love this comment. Fantastic, well done you.
      You have hit the nail on the head, that is exactly what I am saying. To choose, deliberately, the habits that will propel our lives upward.
      Thanks for reading, and for taking the time to comment.
      Keep in touch,
      – J

      Like

  13. I thoroughly enjoyed your outlook on life and what you have done to center yourself in the universe. Being a thoroughly scattered person, I am in awe and have decided, for curiosity’s sake, to investigate the benefits of meditation and exercise, even though my quite-older body will, me thinks, protest too much! Thanks again. Oh, what kind of music do you do? I love your pictures, and I’m Irish.
    I have a new blog about writer’s block, though after reading yours, I doubt you ever deal with such. I didn’t add reading to the things a writer needs to do. I find the more I grow, the more selective I become, and the more I would rather be writing than reading. Then I find a book whose words speak to my soul, and I remember why I also read.

    Like

    1. First, thanks a lot. Really glad you liked it.
      Meditation is not so hard on the body – in fact, your body may like it, and movement is key to life. If you do both well, I am sure that you will see great returns.
      I don’t really get writers block, I just work everyday.
      For me, at least, reading is key. And most of the authors that I know / have heard of, seem adamant that, in order to write well, one most read. Each to their own however.
      Have a great day,
      – J

      Like

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