Learn From Your Elders

Dr. Robert Cialdini (pronounced: chahl-DEE-nee) is one of the world’s leading persuasion experts and author of one the best psychology books of all-time, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. If you’re wondering why I’m referencing a persuasion expert while discussing happiness, it’s because, according to him, you can persuade yourself into being happy.

In his new book, PRE-SUASION: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, Cialdini cites one study explaining why senior citizens — despite being weaker, unhealthier, and less energetic than their youthful counterparts — are, on average, much happier.
The answer lies in their attention management skills. 
secret to happiness man baby
Statistically speaking, that man is happier than that baby
There’s no need to sugarcoat it — senior citizens have less time to be alive than most of us. They’re very aware of this fact, which is why they choose to not waste their remaining years dwelling on negative thoughts, moods, and memories.

As Cialdini explains: “When it comes to dealing with all the negativity in their lives, seniors have decided they just don’t have time for it, literally.”
Occasionally you’ll meet a crotchety old curmudgeon with nothing but bitterness in his tired, gray heart (Hi Grandpa!), but on average, old people are happier than young people because they’re better at focusing their attention on the positive.
This raises an interesting question. As Cialdini himself asks:
“Must we wait for advanced age to bring about a happy outlook on life? According to research in the field of positive psychology, no. But we do have to alter our tactics to be more like seniors’. Luckily for us, someone has already prepared a list of ways to go about it.”
That person is Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, whom I quoted earlier. She believes the secret to happiness lies in specific daily activities. The top three on her list require nothing more than refocusing attention:
1. Count your blessings and gratitudes at the start of every day, and then give yourself concentrated time with them by writing them down.
2. Cultivate optimism by choosing beforehand to look on the bright side of situations, events, and future possibilities.
3. Negate the negative by deliberately limiting time spent dwelling on problems or on unhealthy comparisons with others.
The list seems easy, right? Believe me, it’s not.
The vast majority of you will not even attempt to incorporate one of these activities into your life, let alone all three.
If you’re already happy, then it’s no problem. But if you’re not, then it’s a major problem. Take my advice, again, not as a “medical professional,” but as your friend:
Her list works. I know because I finally tried.