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.

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

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

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  2. 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

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  3. 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!,

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  4. 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!

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    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

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