All week I’ve been talking Aging with Joy. As the years creep up, some of you succumb to the belief that life is going downhill. NOT! Today is always the first day of the rest of your life, not another step to a depressing place.

You can be happy and fulfilled at any age. A new book, 80: Our Most Famous 80 Year Olds Reveal Why They Never Felt So Young (Sourcebooks, 2007) by Gerald Gardner and Jim Bellows has input from eighty of America’s most inspirational people who have reached the age of eighty or more and reflect on their journeys to “the big 8-0.” Those of you who fear “the big 4-0” take heart. These eighty young, older seniors say the passions that they continue to pursue keep them truly young. They honed their enjoyment of life and never let it go!

In 80: Our Most Famous 80 Year Olds Reveal Why They Never Felt So Young these people who are 80+ tell their stories. Reading them will entertain and enlighten you to what you could have in store in your senior years, IF you choose to continue to enjoy life. Legendary household names from Ben Bradlee to Dominick Dunne; Jane Russell to Lena Horne; Liz Smith to Peter Marshall—share candidly and enthusiastically about how they’ve maintained a satisfying quality of life. They also talk about lessons from their pasts that contribute to their attitudes and activities today.

You can learn from these happy unsenior-like seniors! And be inspired to create your own foundation for a happy life at any age.

The common theme among them is the importance of work. “Never retire”, they all advise. While many have changed their paths, their passion and the commitment lead them to satisfying alternatives. Some examples are:

Helen Gurley Brown, who continues to launch international editions of Cosmo. When I first began writing, I did my first interview with this amazing woman. She was gracious and kind, traits that probably help her stay in the game today.

Nanette Fabray, who’s a legend in TV, film and Broadway, now works tirelessly for the disabled, testifying in Congress and lobbying. Helping others is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Studies show that people who are the happiest believe in giving back.

Carl Reiner who astounds Hollywood with his continued energy. Think Oceans 11, 12 and 13. This 80+ legend holds his own among Brad Pitt and Clooney.

Senator Robert Byrd still does what he’s done for decades, with a fearless and relentless ability! Age hasn’t slowed down his efforts in the senate. There’s no mandatory age to retire, unless you give it to yourself!

Betty Garrett still performs, teaches and runs her own theater. Passion driven keeps you life-driven instead of waiting for the end to come and being miserable!

Norman Lear, legendary writer and producer of some of the most popular sitcoms in the history of TV now travels to campuses with a copy of the Declaration of Independence to inspire young people to vote. Colleges! I’ve heard folks in their 40’s dismiss college students as an audience to speak to. They block themselves from opportunities! Lear makes new ones.

Hugh Hefner—do I need to elaborate on this man who lives with some of the hottest chicks out there? He does his TV show and lives life to the fullest. I recently heard him say that his sex life is still kicking on high. Hmmm… That should motivate some of you to not give up on yourself as the years increase in your age.

Yesterday I quoted George Bernard Shaw saying, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” All the people in this book have decided to not stop playing. I heard one of the authors say that he expected to have a hard time interviewing this illustrious group but no, they were all happy to tell their stories. Graciousness is another quality that can help you live happier for a longer time.

Check out 80: Our Most Famous 80 Year Olds Reveal Why They Never Felt So Young if you want a good motivation for guiding your life to a healthier and happier journey as you get older.

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