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.

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.

Also, every month I send out a newsletter packed with Interesting and Exclusive Things.  If you sign up today you’ll also get 3 FREE tracks of my music as a welcome gift.

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And lastly, if you’d like to find out what I’m up to on a more day-to-day basis then here is my brain on Twitter:

297 Replies to “The 5 Reasons I get Happier as I get Older…”

  1. Wonderful text! I read it and I thought you must have found peace, happiness and luck inside yourself. I’m young and it seems to be a mess inside me but this text gives me hope to never give up on fighting to find my inner harmony. You’re an inspiration! Thank you so much!


    1. Hey there,
      First – Thankyou very much, I appreciate you reading this, and taking the time to comment on it.
      You should totally take hope from this. When I was younger, there was a lot more chaos in my inner landscape, a lot more darkness. Sometimes, I found things to be very hard.
      But, find the things that work for you (these are my 5, and out of them, meditation is probably the #1 thing I would recommend to you) and begin to do the work in your own life, and things will get better. Slowly slowly, until one day you will wake up and feel like a different person.
      Big love to you my friend, if you need anything let me know,
      – J

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It totally makes me hopeful! I often think that I am the only one, who have exactly this problems but I also know it is totally nonsense. That is why I love writing. That is why I love to be inspired by texts like yours. Meditation is great. I tried it a few times, but it is really hard for me to not think about everything. You are right I have to do the work in my life.
        Yes I will let you know. I really do my very best to find my harmony in life.
        You make me smile, thank you so much my friend!


  2. I find this to be a very inspiring post with so much truth in it!:) Thank you!
    My 5 things are;
    1- Smile!!! :) no matter how bad my day is, or what is ahead of me by just making sure I have a sincere smile on the dial makes me that little bit happier! With luck it makes someone else smile too. PS: I’m always smiling at people as I walk past them
    2 – Home! My family is my home! I have a house to live in but a family to call home. Where ever I end up on this earth I know they support my choices and we surely love each other a heck of a lot!
    3 – Thankful for every single day I have on this earth, an extra day to make a difference in the lives of people around me!
    4 – Music !♪ It plays almost 24/7 around me. Whether its my choice or its just the radio, I love music, it helps keep me calmer and at peace! Music soothes the soul!♥
    5 – Determination & positivity! I know what the world has to offer me, I know only a mere amount of the things I can accomplish. So learning every day new things I can accomplish and setting out to do them, while doing them as big or small they are I stay positive and just with that I’m much happier!:)
    We don’t age, we level-up! I honestly believe you are as old as you set your mind to believe you are!
    I hope you had a amazingly awesome day of leveling-up!
    Thanks again and hope everyone has a fabulous day and don’t forget to Smile :)


  3. Thanks, I love this list. For me it is 1) Living a simple and Christian life, within our means and caring for the environment 2) Being inspired by art, music, nature 3) Being caught up in the flow doing something creative 4) Travel and exploring – things to open my mind to alternative ways of life 5) People – my friends and family at the heart but also connections with all sorts of other people – having a conversation with a stranger is guaranteed to give me a lift that lasts.


    1. I love this list. It paints the picture of a very beautiful and fulfilling life – well done you! ;-)
      Thanks so much for taking the time to reach out and share this with me and the community, I really appreciate it.
      Hope your day is full of awesome,
      – J x


  4. Great post. I loved it. Made me think about my five. May it be a comfort to you to know that joy springs up in new ways if the current ways are no longer possible.


  5. Reblogged this and commented:
    I enjoyed this thoughtful post. It eva with a great question: what five things add to your joy each year?
    Mine: My husband, my dogs, my art, my brother, my friends. The ocean would be right up there, but I don’t live nearby it any more. And so, other things fill in the joy


    1. Those are a very beautiful five things – thankyou for sharing them.
      I, too, have a deep love for the ocean. It is great that other things have filled in the joy for you – nature abhors a vacuum as they say ;-)
      Have a good one – thanks for stopping by,
      – J


  6. Love your outlook and attitude about “getting older.” It’s all about heart and a clear mind in my book. :) Hmmmm… 5 simple things that make me happy as I get older: 1. Silence in the morning with coffee. ;) 2. Finding inspiration from a quote, a post, an article or even nature. 3. Laughing (even if its only at myself). 4. Listening to music. 5. Dancing… in the kitchen, in the car or wherever the urge hits. :) :)


  7. Ditto, ditto, ditto !!!!!! Bravo ! A kindred spirit ! =) This i snot to say that I do not get a small dose of unhappiness at times, but truly I am on another plane of existence now, a fine-tuning that seems to deepen with age… mayhaps we are of the variety that needs time in a metaphorical oak cask in order to bloom into our depth and richness ?

    Again, could not agree more with you about the physical activity… I totally change at the cellular level after a good sweating, lol =)

    Great post, as always, relevant and interesting simultaneously. Bravo. =)


    1. Hey there kindred spirit,
      Of course, there are always tough things – that is life, but I agree with you wholeheartedly, and very much like how you have phrased the fine-tuning of it.
      Thanks so much for reading AND for taking the time to chat to me,
      Be well,
      – J

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Happy belated birthday :) Right behind you, mine is in September, 37 also. I have a bad marriage behind me, a bit of dating, and mostly just being single, and as someone earlier commented, the world doesn’t end if one hits a particular age whilst not being married. I don’t care that much about formalities, but it would admittedly be nice to have a couple of kids before it’s too late for me. In that respect, you men have it easier.

    As for your list, I sort of subscribe to all of it. For me it’s not about appearance or such, but purely how things feel from the inside, and only a few days ago I started regular (as in daily) yoga again, which makes me feel unbelievably grounded. I’m starting small in order to be able to form a habit rather than “do all the things at once!”, which inevitably causes me to burn out quickly, and so it’s only about a few sun salutations right now, but yesterday I itched to add the B salutations to the already nailed A. It would have been a mistake, though, and also I’m not asking to meditate once I’ve done my asanas, because it’d be too much. But I know this time I’ll have success, as long as I keep growing the habit slowly. There’s nothing like clarity of the mind, is there.


    1. Hey there Nina with freckles ;-)
      Really nice to hear from you, thanks a lot for taking the time to write to me.
      I completely agree with the ‘it’s about how things fell from the inside’, and also with the goodness that is Yoga – well done on the progression.
      Clarity of mind is IT! ;-)
      Have a good one,
      – J


  9. Happy Belated Birthday James, hope you had a blast on the 25th :-) I enjoyed reading your post and is absolutely true. I’m 39, still single, broke up with my then boyfriend 2 years ago, and I had thought my world would come crumbling down if I’m not married by the time I hit 40. Well, I will be turning 40 in Dec, and surprisingly, now I’m feeling more at peace with myself than anything else. And who cares about the big 4-0?? As long as I continue to stay healthy, cultivate good relationships with friends and family, travel and travel more, and read…what more could I ask for than be grateful that I’m still alive?? :-) Thanks for sharing…


  10. Mr. Radcliffe, thank you for sharing your life! The inspiration to continually grow in our spirits will help to change the world. I am touched by your honesty, passion, and your daily 5. These are the very steps that have led me through this great adventure that we all call life. Keep shining your Light and thank you for creating an Illuminous World through your life!


  11. I agree with your premise, though not for quite the same reasons. Growing old has shown me one can create a family of love instead of being shackled to the one forced upon us by birth. I no longer have to worry about the opinions of my peers. I finally accept all that I am and what I enjoy, rather than feeling shamed for not caring about society dictates is important. And on a purely physical note, I look forward to long grey hair and the end of menstruation. But that’s a girl thing.


  12. Jame thank you very much for blending the words in such a masterpiece. Shortly I would say that it will be enough to stretch me out of blues and tackle the upcoming time with new ways and means.


  13. Happy Birthday, James! I’m overjoyed to actually read a piece lauding the beauty of growing older––”already” at age 37! This is a remarkable gift–one that will continue to bestow much on you. Thank you for sharing the 5 elemental keys to your contentment. Simply wonderful. Wishing you much fulfillment and ongoing joy! – Julia


  14. Happiest Birthday, James :) Wonderful post! It really is up to each individual to pursue things that make their “happy” life. I’ve just started mediation at a Buddhist temple. I realized this is something I’d been searching for all along. With each b-day, becoming all the wiser will make me happiest, too!,


  15. Hi, James, and Happy Birthday! I have to observe that one’s thirties are still prime time, physically, and that growing older brings challenges that are difficult to understand — or even imagine — until you experience them. A body in natural decline is not the same as one in ascension, nor one in the “holding” decade you are in, and those later changes color other aspects of our experience. That said, I appreciate your wise approach to life physically, spiritually and emotionally, and wish you many more happy years!


    1. Hey there,
      Thanks a lot for this, I am not sure if I agree with the stages you’ve outlined here – I have plenty of examples of people who’ve continued to grow and improve creatively, emotionally and even physically well into their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I think a lot of the bias people take as dogma comes from using people with habits that are not conducive to long term health as models.
      Your words are very kind, and I thank you for taking the time to write to me,
      I wish you well,
      – J


  16. Older and wiser!😃 Happy Birthday James, hope it’s a great one. Keep making music. And maybe write a book of inspiration, etc.🎂🎁🎤🎹🎻


      1. Hope you had a great Bday! You’re a great writer, may it b something to hear or something to read. The way the world is today, people can you all the inspiration, they can get, b it from you. TC!📝📚🎤🎹🎸🎼😃


  17. Scientifically speaking, working out should make you happy cause it releases the ‘feel good hormone’ serotonin. :D Lovely read; inspirational as always.

    Happy Birthday! :D


  18. Hello James, as I sit and read your empowering blog on this sunny Saturday morning in Winter Australia, I too feel the connection and emphasis on the growth and happiness that comes with getting older! Thank you for sharing these powerful 5 things, they all resonant with me too. I’d love to add music: to dance and allow my spirit to soar as the music penetrates through to my very core of my soul ignites my growth and happiness. And every year as I get older my soul allows for a stronger connection with music!! And my other one is nature, to be surrounded by the sea, sky, birds and especially trees, to feel the natural and connectiveness of our existence with nature! That is truly powerful!
    I love getting older too, the more older the more wiser and empowered my spirit becomes.
    Thank you again for sharing!
    And yes I’d really like to buy your music!


    1. This is all types of beautiful, thankyou so much for taking the time to read it, for writing back, and for buying my music.
      You are the awesome, and I am very grateful. Glad that you like it.
      Best wishes,
      – J


  19. A great post, thanks, James and an interesting topic. Instead of concentrating on a number, I think we should all stop to consider those who will never experience old age, those who have died prematurely. Besides, age is only a number anyway, good health and the love of family and friends is more important.
    We are also fortunate to live in an age where modern medicine extends our lives and beauty products deliver what they claim!


    1. Hey there,
      You are most welcome. I completely agree with your point that it is important to focus on what we have, and not what has been (or could be) taken away. Well said.
      Thanks for stopping by, and for taking the time to write this.
      Have a good one,
      – J

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Same 5 but for me. As for 3, I am giving myself more permission to read and study more regularly lately..I would list my 3 as learning.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Good post. I really like the lead up story as well. Oh and great analogy for meditation’s effects.


  21. Reblogged this and commented:
    If ‘age’ is pinching you as you grow older, here’s an enlightening piece to pinch back with, by my friend, James Radcliffe. Check out his awesome music as well. Bless.


  22. This is such an inspiring post. I agree with every point, and it is true that as I get older myself I have become happier. Making my own decisions on relationships, creative endevours, adventures and career- has let me cut away things that bring drama and live in my peace. Good read. Thank you.


  23. What a great post! I definitely agree, getting older comes with so many great benefits.
    My five things:
    1. I’m more confident – I have more life experience behind me to draw on and this helps me when I feel insecure or am experiencing the unfamiliar
    2. I’m more tolerant – I am much less judgmental and more open about a variety of things, from people to new experiences
    3. My values are more defined – A roof over my head, food on the table, friends I trust, and time to do the things I enjoy!
    4. I feel more confident saying no.
    5. Now that I know how I want to spend my time, it makes me appreciate the time I have left (whatever that might be) much more!


    1. I have no issue with getting older either – I don’t see the problem with it – its only a number after all. I think my list would be along these lines, especially saying no, something I would never have done 10 years ago.

      Have a great birthday

      Liked by 1 person

  24. I started my 48th trip around the sun at the end of June, and you so eloquently summed up the very lessons I’m learning and applying. The last two things to add to my list will be regular meditation and exercise routines. In the meantime, I will continue to cultivate my happiness and joy. When I die, I want to do so with a full heart, and a smile on my face at having lived as joy-filled as I possibly could.


  25. Such a great post. I, too, get happier as I get older. I turned 40 the end of June and was shocked at how many people sent condolences along with birthday greetings. It didn’t phase me personally, but did give me pause. How sad that SO many feel that life gets worse with age. I love your list and again, agree. All of these contribute to my well-.being. Have a wonderful birthday!


  26. Happy birthday! I’m two years older than you. Haha! I get happier the older I get too. “They” are about to LET me turn 40. This is a great post.


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