8 Happy Ways to Spend 80 Years

8 Happy Ways to Spend 80 Years

In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count.  It’s the life in your years.
-Abraham Lincoln

Eighty years is currently the average life span in the West.  Here’s how to make them happy and fulfilling:

1.  Travel often.

Do yourself this favor before it’s too late.  Without thinking too much about it, pack a pillow and a blanket at least once a year and go see a part of the world you’ve never seen before.  You will not regret it.

Traveling has less to do with seeing things, as it does with experiencing them.  It has less to do with discovering something, as it does with discovering yourself.  In your travels you won’t find all the answers, you will find lots of questions you would otherwise have never thought to ask.

The thing about traveling to new places is that you run into your insecurities and fears around every twist and turn.  You run into all the good things and bad things about yourself on a daily basis, and are provided the opportunity to grow far beyond your years.

2.  Work on something every day that moves you.

When you strike that fine balance between the challenge of an activity and your skill at performing it, when the rhythm of your work feels in sync with your purpose, when you know that what you’re doing makes a difference, you become absorbed in the task at hand to the point where time ceases to exist.  This is what true passion and happiness feels like.

So is there anything you do on a regular basis that makes you forget what time it is?

That forgetting, or optimal experience of pure absorption, is what the psychologist Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi calls “flow.”  He describes the phenomenon as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake.  The ego falls away.  Time flies.  Every action, movement and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz.  Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

On your average day, flow experiences are those flashes of intense living when you’re engrossed in a meaningful task that makes you feel more alive.  These optimal experiences can happen when you’re engaged in work, paid or unpaid, that move you.  Work like this is something you should be pursuing on a daily basis.  Read Flow.

3.  Spend time with friends who improve you.

You can go through life and make new friends every year – every month practically – but there is no substitute for the few who truly improve you.

These aren’t the people who are simply nice to you; they’re the ones who help you uncover the things that are holding you back.  In subtle ways, they bring ideas to your attention that change your life.  These friends don’t just sit beside you unknowingly; they shake your world up, reveal your obstacles and weaknesses, and remain beside you because they care.

Friends like this are the most important people you will ever meet because they tear down the invisible walls you have built in your mind.  In other words, they come into your life and reveal new, valuable layers of yourself that you would never have discovered without them.

4.  Accept the risks that feel right.

Security is mostly an illusion.  There are no sure things in this world.  The nature of the world is constantly evolving.  Reserving yourself with numerous safety measures is usually no safer in the long-run than indulging in constant exposure.

It is far more fulfilling to dare yourself to the mighty experiences life has to offer – enjoying great successes and enduring occasional failures – than to hide forever in safety, only to leave the majority of your life unlived.

5.  Work hard and conquer great challenges.

The road to greatness is far from smooth.  You can be absolutely certain that when you feel you are growing weak from struggle, you are in fact growing stronger than you ever have been before.

The more difficulties you encounter and overcome on your lifelong journey, internal or peripheral, the more significant and inspiring your life story will be.  Read The Front Nine.

6.  Make the very best of every situation.

One of the great secrets of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom is doing the best you can with what is done to you.  It’s all about how you choose to respond to the sometimes unpredictable deliveries life ships.  This simple choice makes a world of difference.

You are honestly free now and always, no matter what circumstances surround you.  If you find your circumstances tolerable, by all means tolerate them; if you find them too confining, break through them – stretch yourself.  Ultimately you are free because you alone are responsible for your thoughts and how you use them to empower your growth.

7.  Provide great value to the world.

The best way to get ahead in this world is not to compete with others, but to serve them.  If you want to score a raise at work, be of service to your boss.  If you want to build a profitable business, be of service to your potential customers.  Provide unmistakable value.

Value is what makes relationships, businesses, and personal endeavors thrive.  When your strategy is to grab all you can as quickly as you can, you will grab far less than you are capable of holding.  It is foolish to think that you can fool the world in any way.  Success and happiness come when you choose to work for the world diligently.

At any age, in any situation, for every possible life path, there is value you can provide.  Look closely and you will see opportunities everywhere.  Read The $100 Startup.

8.  Spread your light.

As the Buddha once said, “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.  Happiness never decreases by being shared.”  Spread your light through love and kindness to the people around you, and let the ‘giving spirit’ you initiate spread like a virus, infinitely touching the lives of people you may never meet, across boundaries you may never cross, in ways you may never have thought possible.

That is the power of your love and kindness, and it’s your ticket to making the world a happier place.

Photo by: Angela Sevin


  1. Jess says

    Loved this post – as I do many of yours. I really find them motivational and they help keep me focused on being the best version of myself.

    On a side note, I just turned 77 yesterday – three years to go. 😉 And honestly, I think you hit the nail on the head with every point in this post.


  2. says

    I try my best to do number three often. Unfortunately the person who improves me the most is 700 miles away and is too busy adjusting with a new life. I’ve finally got something to show for number two though, so I’m very proud of that so far.

  3. Matty says

    I absolutely love #4 and #5. I truly hope that I will not end up being older and wishing I had been more courageous to live my life to the fullest potential when I had the best opportunities – which I know are now.

    I must take heed. I must live like I have never lived before and forge ahead. This is a great post, I’m even going to print it and pin it to my bulletin board. :)

  4. says

    Impressively insightful and deep post. As I read each idea outlined here, every single one of them continue to be as poignant as the ones I began to read so many months ago when I first found your blog.

    Thank you, Marc and Angel for helping to open up my heart and mind in such meaningful and positive ways. Stunning.

  5. says

    Loved this post and could find myself nodding along to every single point you make. But #5 resonates most with me today. It’s uncanny how much personal growth happens during our most challenging times.

  6. says

    Beautiful post! I love your point about value. It’s importance is so often overlooked.

    Value is both the gift we receive from the world and the gift we give to it. Afterall, value can only be exchanged for value.

    As such, the more value we can provide in life, the more value we receive in kind. Value is not some limited commodity. There’s no zero-sum game at play here.

    Value begets value.


  7. says

    Awesome list, but I think I need to work on finding friends who do improve me, I don’t have enough of those!

    ‘Make the very best of every situation.’ – I think I’d add ‘live in the moment’ to that, don’t ever miss anything! Thank you once again for such an inspiring list :)

  8. Maura says

    I just recently found your website and I find it very inspring!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to write and share these posts.

  9. Sky S. says

    Truly inspiring and my favorite is all of them :)
    ..But the one i most need to work on is #1 ..i don’t travel much yet I’m single and have tons of time (and saved money to a certain extent) on my hands to go places.. Laziness catches me right as I’m about to head out every time :(

  10. says

    I loved this post – one of my favourites!
    I wasn’t sure about the first one as some people don’t like to travel/can’t afford to – but through the explanation realised how important and valuable it can be! And even travelling to new villages, town, new parts of your own country can be exciting :)

  11. Barbara Kondrath says

    Wow! I love reading your life thoughts each day. I recently lost my husband suddenly and it’s been so very hard to return to any happiness I experienced before. I only wish I had savored it even more. Thanks again for your posts.

  12. Lindsay says

    I know you get numerous amounts of comments and you probably won’t even read this, but I just wanted to thank you for the inspiration you provide through each of your thoughtful, meaningful, and genuine posts. I truly have been inspired and my life has been altered through being a subscriber to your blog. Not only have you helped me to add value and happiness to my life, you have helped me to share those values with others as well.

    Don’t stop creating such beauty with your words – it is rare to read such true, heartfelt positivity, but it is vastly necessary in a world which does not always see the good over the bad. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your contribution to mine, and so many others, well being.

  13. says

    @Jess: Happy birthday!

    @Vincent: Remember that it’s not how often you are around someone special that counts the most; it’s the quality of the time you spend together when you get an opportunity. And perhaps with the right choices, more opportunities could be created.

    @Bina: You got it. Personal challenges drive personal growth.

    @Trevor: As always, an insightful addition to the conversation. Thank you.

    @Nick Goodall: Indeed, being present in each moment is vitally important to making it count.

    @Susanna: Travel has taught me so many priceless life lessons. I strongly believe travel is an essential tool for personal growth.

    @Lindsay: We read every comment, and we truly appreciate receiving them. Thank you.

    @All: To everyone else who commented, thank you as always. We appreciate you taking a moment to leave us a little note. It makes us smile.

  14. Sam says

    Love this post – wonderful and inspirational. My only slight disagreement would be about always being free… The darkest time of my life was when my children were tiny and I was a full time parent – my son (then aged 4) was horribly angry, aggressive and also very jealous of his baby sister. He hit both the baby and I on a constant daily basis and I felt utterly trapped and miserable. Thankfully we all emerged eventually; at the time I desperately wanted to run away to regain my freedom – there is definitely no freedom for full time parents of young children.
    With love and best wishes to you both xx

  15. says

    I love this. I’m just about to post the quote by Abraham Lincoln to my Facebook wall.

    I made sure I worked hard and conquered challenges last year. This year I’d like to spend more time with people who improve me. That starts tonight as I’m meeting a friend who I haven’t seen for a while. Can’t wait.

    Thanks again for this post, I always love to read them.

  16. says

    A fantastic post as usual. The Abraham Lincoln quote is my favorite. His example of a life well-lived made an impact in each area you articulate.

    It’s also important to find love to support each of these areas.

    Sharing makes the experience give again and again.

    Thank you for your love and light.

  17. says

    #1 definitely reminded me that I have to start traveling more. There was a period of time when I traveled once a month, and then I got tired of it (not the actual locations, but more the driving to and from the airport, as well as the loading of the planes, delays, etc).

    And for the “flow”, I can definitely relate. I absolutely LOVE what I do and each day literally flies by where I have no idea where the hours went by I enjoy every bit of it, the good and bad.

    Keep up the writing :)

  18. says

    Believe me, I’m in love with MarAndAngel. I always recommend this blog to my friends. I am proud subscriber of this blog as well.

    I’ve jotted 4 points of these eight that I need the most (to implement in my life later). Thanks so much for the wisdom!

  19. says

    I whole-heartedly agree with number one — travel as often as you can. It’s so easy to get stuck in a routine. Travel sometimes puts you outside your comfort zone and can completely change your frame of reference.

  20. says

    One of my friends shared this post with me. I completely agree! I work in the field of creative, conscious aging and enjoy supporting people in being happy and deeply content in the later years. You have certainly captured important elements of finding joy throughout life and especially into old age.

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