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Publisher's Summary

This program includes original recordings of interviews from the New York Times series

Based on the popular New York Times series, life-changing wisdom from an unexpected source: America's oldest old

In 2015, the award-winning New York Times journalist John Leland set out to meet some of the city's oldest inhabitants for a series on America's fastest-growing age group: those over 85. Leland was at a crossroads in his own life. His marriage had fallen apart, and, at 55, he was alone for the first time. He was also caring for his elderly mother, whose main desire was to die. He understood aging, like many of us do, as nothing more than the relentless deterioration of body, mind, and quality of life. He wondered: Is there a threshold at which life is no longer worth living?

But the six elders Leland interviewed took him in a different direction. Beyond illuminating what it's like to be old, physically and materially, they provided a life-changing education in resilience and joy. They had lived long enough to master the art of living, and they shared their wisdom generously. Leland did not anticipate all that he would learn, nor did he anticipate the popularity of the series: Its following grew to nearly half a million online views for the finale, plus print readers.

Happiness Is a Choice You Make, based on the series, is a rare, intimate glimpse into the end of life and the insight that can enhance the years preceding. What he finds is deeply heartening: Even as our faculties decline, we still wield extraordinary influence over the quality of our lives. Happiness is a choice we make.

Learn how to live from those who have mastered the art

©2018 John Leland (P)2018 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"[Narrator Robert Petkoff] is a steady performer whose measured pacing allows each subject's story to unfold naturally against the background of Leland's personal inquiry. A particular highlight comes at the very end, when listeners get a chance to hear the actual voices of some of the men and women who have shared the lessons of their lives." - AudioFile Magazine

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Substantive and inspiring

A journalist spends a year with six elders, and from that gains new perspectives on his aging mom, his own life, and his own future. And he shares all of it in this book.

The six elders vary quite a bit in their circumstances. But from strongest to most fragile elder there is no sugar coating here of the hardships and the realities. At the same time each elder had a fairly positive perspective on their long lives, their current circumstances and even their future years.

Aging is not for the faint of heart and we would all do well do make plans as best we can...foster loving relationships, work on your health, acquire a safe environment, improve your finances, find joy everywhere you can. And then accept that most of what will happen as you age will be beyond your control.

That’s one thing this book makes clear...don’t fixate on all you may no longer be able to do...find joy no matter your circumstances or limitations, all the elders in this book do.

At the end of the book four of the elders give super brief remarks. Which is quite lovely as by that point you feel like they are all neighbors and friends.

The narration was well done.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Don't judge this book by its cover! So much more.

I would not have picked up this book, if I had only seen the title. But, I heard about it in an article that referred to its life lessons and insight from people who had lived a long and FULL life. There is so much wisdom and perspective in this book! I love autobiographies because men and women summarize their wins, failures, and insight from an entire life lived on this earth. There are common threads that connect the wisdom of the ages, from Ben Franklin to Buddhists to Rosa Parks to George Washington to Seinfeld to your wise grandma. I have enjoyed seeking out those lessons. In this book, you will find many of those insights. ... and the very end of the audio book allows you to hear the actual voices of the elderly subjects of the book. What a treat, from beginning to end.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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life is what you perceive it to be.

what a great book for anyone caring for a parent or thinking about their own life and legacy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great lessons

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Mixed. I think author needed all the chapters to make his points. However, maybe I am impatient but it seemed to go on a bit re: obvious points.

Which character – as performed by Robert Petkoff – was your favorite?

Jonas

Did Happiness Is a Choice You Make inspire you to do anything?

I completely agree with author that the very old have a lot to offer in terms of experience and as an example of how the human experience changes over time. I think it is very worth your time to try to glean from the very old some lessons and approaches to your own life.

Any additional comments?

End of book was most useful (i.e. i think ch 13?). Mainly the summary chapter prior to the Follow up chapters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing Book!!!

Love this book-especially on audio. Really well written!! Highly recommend this book to all ages and walks of life!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • 10-08-18

Very inspiring and soulful.

I learnt the meaning of living in old age is to continue to live the best that life continues to offer.

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moving accounts of life, perspectives to cherish

loved every minute I spent listening to this book. thank you to the author and elders for sharing

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really pointless.

here several people over the age of 85 are interviewed. there stores are pretty standard stuff. in my opinion the author fails to justify the title.

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An upbeat view of extreme old age

Leland gives us a great gift - a glimpse into the mind of the very old. Too often we ignore the wisdom that comes with living to extreme old age. The wisdom that is shared is amazing. We are given valuable insights for people of all ages from modern day ancients ones.

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How encouraging this was.

I didn't know if I would like this book but at 72 I was curious to know what my elders thought about. I was literally stunned when I listened to them. Such a varied collection of both men and women but also one thing kept their lives going....purpose. I had heard that was important (at any age) but particularly as we age. For what do we continue to live? Beyond family, as individuals, we must find that certain something that lightens our hearts and still creates wonder in this world. I was greatly impressed by each and every story.

John Leland is a wonderful writer. He spoke so sweetly about the things he was learning from the oldest old! True. No matter what our age, we can still learn more.

Robert Petkoff did an amazing job of narrating. Taking both male and female voices was convincing and done perfectly.

I am going to be sharing this book with others I know who I believe will also carry away from it a little brighter light and much love for all the people involved. I certainly did!

Highly recommend!