Cut Out the Unhappy

Today my friend sends me the results of a study that suggests older folks–in their 80’s–are the happiest.  The report published in the American National Academy of Sciences claims that as we age, we “become more selective with how we use our time, focusing more on doing things we enjoy and cutting out parts of life that make us unhappy.”

It seems like such a simple prescription:  Focus on what we enjoy, and cut out what makes us unhappy.

While I’m not sure it’s possible to simply “cut out” what makes us unhappy, I wonder what life would look like if we did indeed focus more on doing enjoyable things.

And what if we stopped doing things that make us unhappy?  Not getting enough sleep makes me unhappy.  Drinking too much caffeine makes me unhappy (why do I keep doing this?).  Not exercising makes me unhappy. 

And what if we learned to turn unhappy circumstances (the ones we often cannot change) into moments of flair?  

So (of course), I ask my students to tell me one thing that makes them really happy.  Diet Coke, travel, musical solos, penguins, driving with the windows down on a warm night, watching Hello, Dolly!, playing the game Angry Birds. . .

It’s a nice reminder to enjoy life today.  It’s a challenge to stop doing what makes us unhappy.  And when we cannot change our circumstances, we learn to find the flair.  Maybe it is that simple. 

Journal:  What makes me happy?  What thing that makes me unhappy can I stop doing?