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What makes us happy?

Senior News

What makes us happy as we get older? Below are the results of an informal poll of seniors at the local coffee shop.

• Having enough income. It turns out that many who are living only on Social Security can have enough to make it through the month if they made wise decisions before retiring. Paying off the mortgage is a big one.

• Being listened to, or at least not being disregarded. There’s something about aging that seems to make us melt into the background, and if we have opinions or comments, people don’t always listen. Medical staff seem to rank very high on this list of people who really aren’t listening. Being heard is important.

• Freedom. This comes in many forms. It might mean continuing to drive; it might mean watching only what we want on television.

• Having a social life. For some of us that might mean being part of a group that meets regularly. For others it might mean talking to friends on the phone daily.

• Laughing. Finding something amusing every day ranked high on the list of what makes us happy. Sometimes it was reading the next page of a joke-aday calendar. Sometimes it was talking to a friend who had a great, skewed view of the world.

• Having a reason to get up every day. Whether it’s a hobby, a good book or a social gathering, having a reason to look forward to the next day was key.

And what does it mean if we’re happy? A study monitored 3,000 seniors over the course of eight years to see how happiness impacted physical function. Researchers found that happy people decline more slowly. Conversely, unhappy people were three times more likely to develop health problems.

Where do you fall on the happiness spectrum?

(c) 2020 King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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