The Secret to Happiness

Key takeaways

  • People naturally want to live a happy life. No one wants to focus on the inevitable unexpected negatives that come up on occasion.
  • A New York journalist set out to discover the secret to happiness by following six citizens, aged 85 and older, for an entire year.
  • Essentially, he found that thinking like an older person is the key that unlocks the three-fold secret to happiness.
  • In brief, the secret to happiness comes when you understand your days are finite, practice selective forgetting (about pain and loss), and learn that happiness is a choice.

The Three Stooges, the Tom & Jerry cartoon, and the comedian Red Skelton. Why do I mention these three? Well, growing up, they made me really happy when I watched them. I’m dating myself, but that’s ok. I don’t know if those shows had the secret to happiness hidden within them, but I truly enjoyed them.

What is the secret to happiness?

In 2018, a journalist followed six people aged 85 and up for an entire year. His mission? To discover the secret to happiness. He came up with three primary markers, or life lessons, about the people he followed. You can incorporate these happiness lessons in your own life by allowing yourself to think like an older person:

  1. Your days are finite. Have gratitude for each day that you wake up. Focus on what is, not what isn’t. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
  2. Practice selective forgetting. Sometimes, when I’ve spoken to people and discussed things I knew about them from earlier in their lives, I find they’ve selectively forgotten certain things that were painful. The journalist also found that this selective forgetting happens around the areas of pain and loss. Quite frankly, that’s an important thing—the ability to selectively forget things from your past that aren’t helpful to your spirit and don’t reflect your true self.
  3. Happiness is a choice. It certainly is, but it’s not a choice you make once. It’s a continual act of choosing throughout the course of your life, and in the midst of all the mishaps. Of course, you must deal with any negative things that come up, but the key is to do it and then don’t dwell on it. Choose to move forward in happiness.

Like I’ve said many times before, you can’t buy happiness. But, you can certainly put yourself into a mindset of happiness by incorporating these three lessons in your daily life. Then, if you happen to also have some money, that’s just the icing on top. Until next time, enjoy.




Gary Klaben serves as a Financial Advisor, and visionary for Coyle Financial Counsel. He has over 30 years of experience and is the author of Changing the Conversation, Wealth of Everything and co-author of The Business BattlefieldWhether advising his clients, mentoring his team, or coaching entrepreneurs, he is always simplifying complexity and motivating others to take the next action that’s right for them.

Learn more about The Coyle Process, approach designed to get your arms around the big picture, so you can make informed financial decisions. Ask Gary about The Coyle Process and schedule a complimentary consultation and start living the Good Life Managed Well™.
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All information is from sources deemed reliable, but no warranty is made to its accuracy or completeness.   This material is being provided for informational or educational purposes only, and does not take into account the investment objectives or financial situation of any client or prospective client.  The information is not intended as investment advice, and is not a recommendation to buy, sell, or invest in any particular investment or market segment.  Those seeking information regarding their particular investment needs should contact a financial professional.  Coyle, our employees, or our clients, may or may not be invested in any individual securities or market segments discussed in this material.  The opinions expressed were current as of the date of posting but are subject to change without notice due to market, political, or economic conditions. All investments involve risk, including loss of principal.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

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