The Seven Habits that Lead to Happiness in Old Age 

Using data from the Harvard study, two researchers showed in 2001 that we can control seven big investment decisions pretty directly: smoking, drinking, body weight, exercise, emotional resilience, education, and relationships. Here’s what you can do about each of them today to make sure your accounts are as full as possible when you reach your later years:

  1. Don’t smoke—or if you already smoke, quit now. You might not succeed on your first try, but the earlier you start the quitting process, the more smoke-free years you can invest in your happiness account.
  2. Watch your drinking. Alcohol abuse is strongly correlated with smoking in the Harvard study, but plenty of other research shows that even by itself, it is one of the most powerful predictors of winding up sad-sick. If you have anyindication of problem drinking in your life, get help now. If you have drinking problems in your family, do not take your chances: Keep that switch turned off. Although forgoing alcohol can be difficult, you’ll never be sorry you made this decision.
  3. Maintain a healthy body weight. Eat a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and moderate serving sizes, but avoid yo-yo diets or intense restrictions that you can’t maintain over the long run.
  4. Prioritize movement in your life by scheduling time for it every day and sticking to it. Arguably the single best, time-tested way to do this is by walking daily.
  5. Practice your coping mechanisms (emotional resilience) now. The earlier you can find healthy ways to deal with life’s inevitable distresses, the more prepared you’ll be if ill luck strikes in your 80s. This means working consciously—perhaps with assistance from spiritual practices or even therapy—to avoid excessive rumination, unhealthy emotional reactions, or avoidance behavior.
  6. Keep learning. More education leads to a more active mind in old age, and that means a longer, happier life. That doesn’t mean that you need to go to Harvard; you simply need to engage in lifelong, purposive learning. For example, that can mean reading serious nonfiction as part of a routine to learn more about new subjects.
  7. Do the work to cultivate stable, long-term relationships now. For most people, this includes a steady marriage, but other relationships with family, friends, and partners can fit in this category as well. The point is to find people with whom you can grow, whom you can count on, no matter what comes your way.

David Brooks

One thought on “The Seven Habits that Lead to Happiness in Old Age 

  1. Thanks, Chelvi. This is good. Simply, true, and profound

    Kind regards

    Andrew Dyer
    Chairman
    [cid:image001.png@01D8295C.5B18C670]
    Family Business Services | T +61 2 9571 7296 | M +61 414 692 934 | E andrew.dyer@fbsh.com.au
    ABN 76 090 472 236 | Mailing Address: 11 Griffin Place, Glebe NSW 2037, Australia | Registered Office: MBP Advisory, Level 12, 130 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000

    Like

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