When someone posed the question “What advice would a 70 or 80-year-old person give about the way the life should be lived?” on a public question site, Quora, the answers were varied. Some were kinda heart-warming, some were more lame than a dead dog, but others were positively insightful.
With suggestions such as living your own life for you, and being bold and courageous because when you look back at life you regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did, I thought the responses provided some useful inspiration for living a more fulfilling existence than the drudgery I sometimes feel life can become.
The most popular response was from Dan Maloney, a 70+-year-old man who shared the secret to happiness…
“I thought in many parts of my life I was inadequate, selfish or had other negatives overwhelming me,” he said in his post, but a passing remark one day about how “lucky” he was got him thinking.
“I realised I have been lucky in my life, not in the lottery-winning, discovered by a producer sort of way, but in the way of things working out well in the end.
“And I got to thinking why this had been; I certainly did not feel lucky much of the time, even when things were going pretty well.”
But then it dawned on him that happy people draw good luck to themselves.
He went on to suggest that you are more memorable, so if an opportunity arises people think of you, and people want to be around you if you have a sunny disposition. No one wants to hang out with an energy sucking thunder cloud, but a ray of sunshine?
Bring that shiny soul over to sit on my big ol’ lap.
So, what if the very deed of acting happy actually brought you true happiness? Behavioural scientist and anthropologist Dr Stephen Juan believes faking happiness really can make happiness.
“People who have experienced life know that if you act happy you sometimes fool yourself into being happy, even if you aren’t,” he says. “It is the power of suggestion. The power of positive thinking.”
So pretend happiness perpetuates real happiness, and real happiness is like a flame to a moth and draws people into your light.
“The most depressed people are the most socially isolated people,” tells Dr Juan. “Put on a happy face and you become a social magnet.”
By putting on a happy face, or at the very least, not having a frowny-pants, lemon-sucker head on you may actually increase feelings of happiness. Past studies have shown that forcing smiles can improve your mood, but researchers have also discovered that disabling the ability to frown can lift your spirits.
Scientists injected Botox into the frown regions of a group of depressed people to disable the facial muscles and retard the ability to put on their cranky face, and the results showed that no frowny face equals happier frame of mind… although I reckon suddenly looking ten years younger would help with the sads.
Not everyone with the blues will have access to, or the inclination for, Botox, so let’s just get back to basics.
Your brain is not savvy to the difference between real and pretend – unless we’re talking about orgasms. Don’t fake orgasms. Ever. Faking those is just ripping yourself off, and letting your lover off the hook.
Orgasms also release ocytocin which is the love hormone so, in theory, you should feel happier after getting your rocks off, however it’s not always the case but I digress… you can stand in front of your mirror at home, and tell yourself that you’re doing OK and that everything is going to be alright, and your spectacular brain will believe you.
Because it is both smarter, yet dumber than you.
Slap a fabulous fake smile on your dial and all the muscles in your face go into action, and the brain believes that you are smiling for real. It starts to generate ‘feel good’ chemicals.
Get out of the house, go for a walk to get your blood moving, smile at a few complete strangers and fake that happiness until you start to feel it for realsies.
Because that is actually what will happen if you just give it a shot.