SAGELY BOOK CLUB: HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE YOU MAKE BY JOHN LELAND
Starting a book club arose with the intention of expanding our perspective on aging. We serve communities that serve elders. Understanding elders, their situation, as well as their physical and emotional well-being is essential to us. This month, Happiness is a Choice You Make by John Leland, is the book we selected.
INTRODUCTION TO HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE YOU MAKE.
The author follows several elders in their daily lives and gives a unique perspective on their individual ways of approaching the end of life. Diving in their life stories, we share a glimpse of how they, all in their own way, face this reality.
THE NEW PERSPECTIVE
Two main points of view stand out as we advance in these life stories. One is feeling that prolonging aging isn’t worth it when your abilities and expectations are limited to small, insignificant pleasures compared to a life of achievements and abilities. How do we accept and find peace in decline? One of Ezekiel Emanuel’s essay puts forward a deliberate choice to not prolong his life past 75. Aging then seems like an ever-increasing burden.
Another point of view introduces the concept of gerotranscendence*, arguing that aging brings an appreciation to every little aspect of life, even those that may be considered somewhat paltry. For example, viewing another sunset or the visit of a grandchild. The concept is that aging can also bring an extraordinary ability to find the value of life in every aspect.
Gerotranscendent individuals age most peacefully, give thanks for another day and focus on the extraordinary value of life. It is truly inspiring to witness the effect of gerotranscendence and how positive those are who can achieve it.
What is fantastic about reading these books is it allows us to enrich our empathy toward elders. In doing so we increase our own abilities to reach gerotranscendence by projecting ourselves to our end of life and start enjoying each day more, knowing the next is never promised.
*Gerotranscendence is a natural and individual process towards maturity and wisdom, normally accompanied by more life satisfaction. It may be described as a transformation characterized by new ways of understanding life, activity, and oneself.
I think people do change. For example, “he was such a brat when he was a kid, but then he grew up and wow!”. At the same time, people develop traits. Nevertheless, I do think there’s a bend with time. I think about my own mom, who was “strict,” but now she tells me all the adult stories in her life and her regrets about being a tough mom. She does have some gerotranscendence. Did any of you think about old people in your lives? I very much liked the concept of gerotranscendence and have seen it in many, but not all, seniors. I really like this blog post about gerotranscendence:
Happiness is a Choice You Make by John Leland was an excellent pick for Sagely’s book club this month.
At Sagely, with our Alaka’i Program, we aspire to transform and empower older adults in their own life/care journey.
Our healthcare model is still highly disease-focused and struggles to realize people’s unique story and their “persona.”
Our conversations provided us with better insights into how we can inspire to capture the human heart where (older adults) are, to help with gerotranscendence and resilience to live well.
Ping, John, Fred, Ruth, Helen and Howie, and Jonas help us better examine how we can reach toward realizing well-being for all.
I am also intrigued by the gerotranscendence .How elders become more accepting of their current life situation and enjoy what’s in front of them. Also how they are able to look back at their hardships throughout their lives and understand how they are a part of their own story. Surprisingly, they wouldn’t change because it is a part of the fabric woven into their lives.
I really enjoyed following each elder throughout the book. The author, in a great way, allows us to truly feel their pain and peace depending on how well they approach their end of life. We get attached to some, thinking we can be friends with them. We might not feel as close to some of them, but observing their suffering makes us really face our own limitation and appreciation of little things. It is a great read and surely helps me gain more empathy and understanding toward elders and end of life.