I’ve written frequently on the importance of our attitude as a key determinant for a successful and happy life. It wasn’t by chance that my very first article on The Retirement Manifesto was titled “Contentment”, and focused on my personal decision to view life in “a state of happiness and satisfaction.” Our view on how we face life is a decision we each make, whether we’re aware of it or not.
Be aware, and make the right choice. It’s your life, and you’ll live with the consequences of your decision.
Given the importance of personal attitude, I dedicate this post to “Mrs. Jones“, and have decided to post verbatim an article shared about this fine lady by Terry Quinn, author unknown. Perhaps it touched me deeply given the move we made earlier this year to put my mother-in-law into a nursing home, but I think the lesson serves us all well. Here, then, is the full story:
The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.
After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. “I love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
“Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room…. just wait.”
“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied.
“Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged, it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.”
She went on to explain, “Old age is like a bank account, you withdraw from what you’ve put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories. Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing.”
And with a smile, she said:
Remember the five simple rules to be happy
- Free your heart from hatred
- Free your mind from worries
- Live simply
- Give more
- Expect less
I don’t know about you, but I’ve known some pretty miserable people. I’ve also known some older folks who are unbelievably positive. A previous neighbor, Joe, comes to mind. Joe was active. He ran ultra-marathons well into his 70’s, and once challenged me to run a half marathon with him when he was a spry 72 year old. I did run that race, and to this day it’s a marvelous memory that I’ll cherish the rest of my life. He was a local legend, and many runners who had finished (well) ahead of us came back the last mile to run across the finish line with him. I told him I now had a retirement goal – to beat his time when I became 72 years old.
He smiled. So did I.
Another story demonstrates a Joe’s attitude: In his mid-70’s he cut his finger off while using a wood splinter (I told you he was active). Unperturbed, he held up the remaining 9 and said, “Well, I had that finger for over 70 years, I guess it served me well”.
I have never heard Joe complain.
It seems the older folks get, the more embedded their disposition becomes, be it positive or negative. Grumpy folks get grumpier. Happy folks get happier.
Take a lesson from Mrs. Jones, and my friend Joe.
Choose to be happy.