Health, Life

Words Of Wisdom – A 97 Year Old’s Rules For Living A Happy Life

the key to leading a happy life tips from 97 year old

Sometimes the answer is right in front of you. We search far and wide for answers to deep questions, when all we really have to do is look around. There’s evidence of happiness in lots of places. If I try and think of one person I know who has always been happy, who has lived a genuinely content life, I look at my 97-year-old grandma.

Now I must get one thing straight. She’s had a pretty privileged life. Things have come quite easy to her. BUT – that doesn’t mean she hasn’t got wisdom to share. In fact, she’s probably one of the toughest most badass women I know. Basically, you wouldn’t mess with Joyce Ison.

I haven’t visited her in her care home enough lately. I’ve been too wrapped up in my own problems and creating my own stresses. I keep making excuses and saying I don’t have time to visit her when I definitely do. Plus, I’ve had an idea for an article whizzing round in my head for a while now, so I thought it was about time I paid her a visit.

It seems as though our generation has lost its way a bit. And I can’t tell whether it’s because things are genuinely a lot harder for us, or we’ve just got our attitude and approach to life all wrong. Somewhere along the way, we lost our vision. What better person to ask about how to be happy in life than someone who has been on this planet for nearly an entire century?

Today I went to my grandma’s care home, took her outside to sit in the garden in the sunshine and asked her a BIG question. ‘Grandma, you’ve lived a great life – what is it you think people need to do in order to be happy?’

Here are the things she said.


Keep yourself busy

Yes, really. Because if you sit on your arse all day pondering what a happy life looks like, you’ll probably get bored and lazy. Grandma was always involved in things, especially competitive activities. She played golf, tennis and bowls amongst other things.

It’s good to keep your body and mind active. And if you’re busy, you’ve got less time to worry about stuff and fret about things you don’t have in your life. Plan things for your free time, make plans with friends and stay active.

Do what you want to do

What is it that you like in life? Grandma said she doesn’t know what everyone else likes, only what she enjoys doing. But everyone should find things they like – and do them. Simples right? We’ve only got one life, so we may as well fill it with stuff that gives us ‘all the feels’. What things do you enjoy doing so much they put a huge smile on your face, make you feel good about yourself or help you grow as a person? This goes for both work and play.

Be sociable and friendly

This one baffles me a little as Joyce is very chatty and friendly, but she’s not exactly a social butterfly in her care home. She doesn’t think anyone else is intelligent enough to have a conversation with. #harsh However, she has a point (and she obvs had plenty of friends throughout her life).

There’s a lot of research that suggests being sociable can help you to live longer. Plus, ya know, we are humans and all, so we should probs interact with other beings. Being lonely is no fun, and it can cause all sorts of problems to both your physical and mental wellbeing. According to,

Loneliness can wreck the body like a physical stress.

Don’t fall out with too many people

Now this one I found very interesting. I would never have thought she would have come out with this one. But now I think about it, I guess it’s pretty important. You’re not going to be happy if you constantly fall out with people. It creates so much drama and unnecessary stress. In most cases, it’s so much easier just to rise above it.

Sometimes falling out with someone, although uber satisfying at the time, has more of a detrimental impact on you than the person you had a go at. I guess what she means here is as you get older you realise it’s not worth falling out with people and you never know what’s around the corner. So it’s always best to try where possible to stay on good terms (even if inside you’re visualising punching someone).

Treat your parents well

It seems old Joyce had a great affection for her parents. Perhaps what drove this suggestion is a memory of hers. She said she was mad at her mum and went to a wedding dress fitting with her aunt instead, and she regrets doing this to this day.

Let’s be honest, no parents are perfect, and we all get *a little* agitated with them sometimes, but they’re all we have. You can’t get new ones once they leave this earth. Having lost my dad, I know this all too well. If you’ve still got your mum and dad in your life, or even just one parent, make them most of them. They won’t be around forever.

Find someone who you are happy with that makes you laugh

She had some hilarious stories to tell about this one. In her words, ‘sometimes you don’t fall in love you just carry on and then they grow on you.’ LOL. Poor Ronnie. My grandad died when I was six years old. But from what I’ve heard he was a proper friendly, funny bloke. His sense of humour must have eventually charmed hard-to-please Joyce. She said her mum wanted her to marry a soldier not an officer and she seemed to be said she didn’t get her approval when it came to marrying him. In her opinion, you have to find someone you are happy with that makes you laugh.

*Sidenote* She told me a story about how she was having an argument with her husband and he tried to climb up the wall to get in the window and she was so mad she kept pushing him back down. Later, a neighbour knocked on the front door and she thought it was her hubby so she attacked the poor neighbour with a pair of wellies. What a woman.

Life isn’t worth worrying about

As someone who struggles with anxiety, this one is probably the most poignant. It makes my heart ache because I still worry about everything, and I want to change my thought process so badly.

I didn’t worry about very much. I didn’t have anything to worry about. Life isn’t worth worrying about. You’ve got to keep yourself happy.

I felt like yelling out – how can you not worry about anything? Hooowwww? I don’t think there’s some secret technique, I think it’s just her as a person. She chooses not to give a crap about anything. As I mentioned earlier, I think her life has been pretty sweet. We’ve got completely different stresses these days, but that doesn’t mean we should let them ruin our entire lives now does it???

Find the little things that make you happy

Ya know, like sitting on a park bench and watching the world go by. Or walking to the shop to buy your favourite chocolate bar. Or spending time stroking or playing with a pet. NOTICE THE LITTLE things before they pass you by.

We spend so long focused on the big things that we’re rarely in the moment seeing what’s in front of us. Hence why mindfulness is such a big thing these days. Grandma’s example was when they couldn’t have much or splurge on stuff, she just enjoyed cycling from Preston to Blackpool.

That’s all we could do but we enjoyed it.

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