The wise person, as he grows older, must turn to the perfecting of his creative and appreciative abilities, which mellow and improve with age. He must take inventory of his personality, realizing that whatever it is now, so it will tend to be in later years, multiplied many times.
[If you want to grow older happily] Ask yourself these nine determinative questions:
- Am I self-centered, or do I take other people’s needs and desires into account as well as my own?
- Am I intolerant of other people, and other opinions that differ from mine, or am I prepared to concede that others, as well as myself, have a right to their own habits and beliefs; in short, can I live and let live?
- Am I constantly irritated by large or small annoyances, or do I take things as they come with a minimum of friction?
- Do I maintain an unrelenting, high-speed, high-pressure pace, or have I learned the inestimable value of setting aside some time each day for complete mental and physical relaxation?
- Do I have real resources within myself, or am I forever trying to escape my own thoughts and feelings, depending on others to entertain and amuse me?
- Am I growing a crop of hatreds and resentments to sour and embitter my life, or do love and affection dominate my relationships with others?
- Does an appeal for help make me close my mind and pocketbook, or am I generous with my time and money when the cause is good?
- Do worry and guilt gnaw at my peace of mind, or am I content to do my best to solve each problem as it comes, forgetting past failures, and, in the spirit of St. Paul, to say calmly, “…having done all…stand.”
- Lastly, do I merely pay lip service to the principles of my faith, or are they a practical, dynamic part of my daily, even hourly life?
Excerpt from: The Art of Real Happiness (1950), Norman Vincent Peale, D.D., and Smiley Blanton, M.D.