Friday, April 13, 2012

What Does It Take to be Happy?

The formula for happiness is really quite simple:
  1. Someone to love
  2. Something to do
  3. Something to look forward to
  4. Smile!
One of my Twitter friends tweeted this formula for happiness that really made me sit down and think. Could something so huge really be that simple?

Someone to Love

Well, I certainly love my kids. I don't see them very often, but I love them very much. Ditto for my brother and sister and their families. We are all so spread out that it is hard to get together, but the Internet helps.

Since I retired and moved to Mexico I have developed more close friendships than I've ever had at one time in my life. That seems quite easy to do when so many of us are living in one area and in similar situations.

My most important 'someone to love' is my boyfriend. When I got divorced in 1992, I didn't think I was going to go there again. I was happy and independent. Then I met this guy with whom I have almost nothing in common. But it turns out that what we each have to give is exactly what the other one needs. More proof that opposites attract, I guess.

Terry and I have been a couple for six years. His family has become my family, too. His father, his brother's family, his cousins, and even his best friends from many years ago are my family and friends, too.

Something to Do

The Japanese call this iki gai, a reason to get out of bed in the morning. People who live exceptionally long lives say this is part of the reason for their longevity. They have things to do and people who are relying on them.

Sometimes this can be hard after retirement. If your whole life revolved around getting up every morning and going to work, it can seem like you suddenly have nothing to do. I see so many who spend their mornings watching TV and their afternoons in a bar. Sure, you look forward to relaxing after so many years of working, but it doesn't take long to become bored to death.

I've never had this problem because I have so many creative things in my head just waiting for their turn that I will never get to all of them in my lifetime no matter how long I live. Right now, my writing is what I can't wait to get to each day. I know we are all different and some people have never thought of themselves as creative. That's fine; there are many other possibilities out there.

Even if you don't realize it, there are things you know and can share with others that can make a big difference in their lives. Volunteer to tutor English as a second language. Help out in a school or at a hospital. Build a home with Habit for Humanity. There are so many people and organizations out there that really need your help. The possibilities are endless.

Something to Look Forward to

I have a bucket list of places I want to visit while I am still young enough to enjoy traveling. I love planning a trip each year, and when that trip is done, I'm ready to start planning the next one.

If you haven't retired yet, you are probably looking forward to the day when you can actually do it. You should also be thinking about how you will use all that wonderful free time you will have. I spent a lot of time daydreaming about moving to Mexico and all the great things I would do.

You might not be ready for the expat life, but maybe you want to move someplace with a warmer climate. I don't miss snow at all! Sure, it's beautiful to look at, but I can do that in photos without the cold, shoveling the driveway, or the dangerous driving.

I'm looking forward to spending the rest of my life with Terry - even growing old together. Supporting each other in our individual interests and talking care of each other when the need arises. One time he pointed out a sweet old couple who must have been in their 80s and said, "That's us in 20 years." Since we weren't even dating yet, I thought he was crazy, but I'll never forget that day. IAnd it has certainly become something that I look forward to.


Sometimes, just the act of smiling is enough to change your mood and make you feel good.

I have to say that I have often recently been almost overwhelmed by how happy I am. It's not like there is any one thing that I can put my finger on. And I certainly have moments of anger or frustration, but they never last long. There isn't a day that goes by that I forget how lucky I am to be living the life I lead.

I guess that's why that Tweet grabbed my attention and held on. So what do you think? Does this formula work for you?


  1. I am still working but I like it! My life is better then ever. Thom and I have the house to ourselves. My son and famialy are 3blocks away.all are healthy and doing well,it makes it easy to smile.I enjoy the small things,like the way my tea cup warms my hand. The large things also ,like being in the room to wittness the brith of a grandchild.Happiness is all around.cmac

  2. I think you and Thom must have had a challenging beginning to your relationship and I am so glad that everything has come together so well. Sounds like you've got all you need for happiness.