003: Choosing Happiness with John Leland

For almost 20 years, three-time author John Leland has been writing about the many different sides of retirement for The New York Times.

Right now, more people are living past the age of 85 than any other time in history – and John set out to write a year-long series about them. He wanted to tell stories of people who fell in love in nursing homes, those who never remarried after losing their spouse or partner, people who were still together in old age, living with disabilities, facing illness, and more.

John expected this to be a series about loss. What ultimately came out of this series, however, is a book entitled Happiness is a Choice You Make: Lessons From a Year Among the Oldest Old. Today, he joins the podcast from the heart of the Times newsroom to share takeaways, stories, and lessons that I found invaluable as a husband, a financial advisor, and a human being.

In this Podcast Interview, You’ll Learn:

  • The concerns many families have around aging and death – and how to find happiness when facing depressing statistics.
  • Why things that feel like the end of the world aren’t the end of the world – and it’s how we face them that matters.
  • What makes older people so good at adjusting to circumstances – and the lessons John learned about happiness from people who faced a constant stream of challenges.
  • The power and profound effects of expressing gratitude – even if you’re just writing down one thing you’re grateful for every day.
  • How older people can stay creative and active – and keep their connections meaningful and valuable.
  • Why we become so unhappy when we fixate on things outside of our control  – and why so many people living in less than ideal circumstances are still very happy.
  • What you can do as a financial advisor to keep your clients healthy, busy, and happy in their retirement – no matter what comes their way.

Inspiring Quote

“We have to realize that happiness is something that’s within us and we’re able to choose it.” – John Leland

“You probably have clients who have all the money in the world and they’re miserable, and other clients who are struggling to get by and they’re really enjoying their lives. So, it’s not about those circumstances. It’s about our reaction to the circumstances.” – John Leland

Interview Resources


Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old

Listen to the John Leland Interview


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