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Seven Deposit Ideas for Your Happiness 401K Account

And how thin is my 401K? tee hee

Arthur Brooks writes, “Imagine yourself 10 years from now. Will you be happier or less happy than you are today? I ask my graduate students—average age, late 20s—this question every year. The majority think they will be happier. But when I ask about their prediction for 50 years from now, it seems a lot less rosy. Being in their late 70s doesn’t sound so great to most of them.”

“They are shocked when I show them the data on what happens to most people: Happiness tends to decline throughout young adulthood and middle age, bottoming out at about age 50. After that, it heads back up again into one’s mid-60s. Then something strange happens. Older people split into two groups as they get old: those getting much happier, and those getting much unhappier.”

Right around this same time of life, many people realize the importance of having made good financial decisions in their earlier decades. Those who planned ahead and saved up are more likely to be able to support themselves in comfort; many of those who didn’t, can’t. Something similar happens with happiness, as I show in my new book, From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life.

And here is his main idea: Each of us has something like a “Happiness 401(k)” that we invest in when we are young, and that we get to enjoy when we are old.

Brooks quotes some researchers who suggest ideas about what to do to maximize your Happiness 401K:

1. Don’t smoke—or if you already smoke, quit now. You might not succeed on your first try, but the earlier you start the quitting process, the more smoke-free years you can invest in your happiness account.

I don’t smoke.

2. Watch your drinking. Alcohol abuse is strongly correlated with smoking in the Harvard study, but plenty of other research shows that even by itself, it is one of the most powerful predictors of winding up sad-sick. If you have any indication of problem drinking in your life, get help now. If you have drinking problems in your family, do not take your chances: Keep that switch turned off. Although forgoing alcohol can be difficult, you’ll never be sorry you made this decision.

I don’t drink either.

3. Maintain a healthy body weight. Eat a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and moderate serving sizes, but avoid yo-yo diets or intense restrictions that you can’t maintain over the long run.

OOPS! Well, thats getting better! (See my pages on exercise and sports physiology, which is part of why i started this wordpress site.

4. Prioritize movement in your life by scheduling time for it every day and sticking to it. Arguably the single best, time-tested way to do this is by walking daily.

My goal is to work out 120 minutes each day, 90 minutes on a treadmill is part of that.
(I need a cardiac stress test first – already setting that up).

5. Practice your coping mechanisms now. The earlier you can find healthy ways to deal with life’s inevitable distresses, the more prepared you’ll be if ill luck strikes in your 80s. This means working consciously—perhaps with assistance from spiritual practices or even therapy—to avoid excessive rumination, unhealthy emotional reactions, or avoidance behavior.

WOWIIE KAZOWIE! This strikes home. OK, thats a whole blog page (coming soon).

6. Keep learning. More education leads to a more active mind in old age, and that means a longer, happier life. That doesn’t mean that you need to go to Harvard; you simply need to engage in lifelong, purposive learning. For example, that can mean reading serious nonfiction as part of a routine to learn more about new subjects.

Please don’t laugh. Last year I acquired 450 audible books. I listen every single day. I also have 100 Great Courses now. I buy lots of books at Half Price Book Store.

7. Do the work to cultivate stable, long-term relationships now. For most people, this includes a steady marriage, but other relationships with family, friends, and partners can fit in this category as well. The point is to find people with whom you can grow, whom you can count on, no matter what comes your way.

I am afraid in many regards I am sliding downhill on this one as of late. I join professional associations and tend toward volunteer work. But church has been a problem. Family is ummm … dysfunctional? There’s not enough cuss words in the english language to cover that topic, and I refuse to waste any more time dealing with it. I tell them … go and be happy. If they are not happy then that is not my problem. So I am kind of letting go of all that. Replacing it with? I don’t know what. I need to join something. Get a cause. I think the Happiness 401K Stock Market might have crashed on this one. But everybody should pay attention to this aspect. Unless you want to live on a desert island. OK, here comes a blog page on CONNECTEDNESS.

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