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Steps to Happiness in your Sixties

I am sixty, and my plan is to be around, and healthy on our amazing planet for at least another forty years! Do you have a plan?
My plan is eminently doable. Maybe you are now, or are about to go through a life change? Your children, ‘flying the nest’ or retirement from your job? So perhaps life is looking kind of bleak, are you possibly feeling a bit empty, asking your self what’s the purpose?

I want to share some solid, scientific information with you as to how my plan is doable. First be happy! Studies now show that people who are happier in their lives have healthier levels of key body chemicals than those who are focused on negative feelings. This means happier people can have healthier hearts and cardiovascular systems, and generally lessen their risk of diseases.

I feel to reassure you that I am not naïve about the state of happiness! And sometimes in life it is right and appropriate to be sad. One of my eminent teachers, a professor of psychology, who really knows her stuff, for which I have total respect and gratitude, used to drive us students ‘nuts’! As every morning, before her lecture, she would chant loudly and energetically: “Be happy, happy, happy…..”

We students preferred a more tranquil happiness, or a humorous grumble, especially first thing in the morning!

Happiness for all of us is different, it can be a steady state of optimism shifting to those times of high energy enthusiasm and in between these two states there are all the nuances of cheerfulness. I recently said to a local decorator: “Wow, that is a fabulous job!” He rubbed his chin and replied: “Aye, it’ll do.” I asked: “What do you say when something is really brilliant?” He said: “Aye, it’ll do”!

The simple truth about happiness is that it comes from within. We can learn to choose to be happy even when the external ‘weather’ is bad or harsh. We don’t have to wait for the Spring to arrive or a wedding or a trip!

So, how can we look forward to the next forty years of inner tranquillity, optimism, cheerfulness, happiness? We can choose how we are perceiving and thinking about any situation or experience in any given moment. We can slow down our minds for a few moments observe our thought pattern responses and those thoughts that do not have a celebration of life quality we can ‘delete’ and change.

Have you heard of neurogenisis, the growth and formation of new nerve, or brain cells? Research in current neuroscience indicates, contrary to 100 years of dogma, that our human brain is capable of generating new brain cells throughout our life cycle.

Another of my teachers, Dr Ernest Rossi states: “The psychological precedes the physical. The mind drives the body, which drives the genome.”

There are three activities or behaviours which are key to connecting psychological experiences that optimize gene expression, neurogenesis, and healing.

These three activities or behaviours are what we need to incorporate into our every day life so that we can keep on growing our brain (neurogenisis).

Novelty

Experience something novel and new in your every day life. I did not get ‘novelty’ at first, until Dr Rossi called it “The new and fascinating” One thing that I do is to really see and be fascinated by the light and colours constantly shifting and moving on the rocks and stones in our garden.

Environmental Enrichment

Enrich your environment; you’ll know how to do this. I do this with perhaps a fabulous photograph or flowers, a fascinating piece of driftwood. Have some simple natural things around you and give them your attention so you will feel enriched, or have amazing works of art or science (I believe my husband would love to have his motor bike in our living room, which would really enrich the environment for him!)

Physical Exercise

You don’t need to be an athlete! The wondrous Dr Milton Erickson, who is considered to be the grand father of Psychotherapy and Hypnotherapy, was wheel chair bound in his later years due to a recurrence of polio. Dr Erickson exercised by preparing the families vegetables every evening.

These three things need only take minutes in your day, but, like me you might find you spend twenty minutes on each every day, as you will so enjoy this time, and the amazing benefits of growing new brain cells!

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