By Amy Trent The (Lynchburg) News & Advance
For more than an hour Tuesday morning, caregivers and health care professionals laughed and nodded in agreement as Kathleen Passanisi shared the power of happiness with the roughly 400 attendees of Lynchburg College’s 2015 Conference on Aging.
The theme for this year’s event, an annual conference hosted each June by the Beard Center on Aging, was “Aging well in mind, body and spirit.” Specialists from across the state converged to discuss finances, health, relationships, ethics, nutrition, conflict resolution, Medicaid, elder abuse and much more.
Passanisi, a humorist and medical professional, started the day as the morning’s keynote speaker.
“You can’t be too happy,” Passanisi said, explaining happy people live longer, sleep better, and are more optimistic and compassionate.
Happiness, Passanisi said, is very much a choice. Although 50 percent of happiness is determined by genetics and 10 percent by circumstances, another 40 percent is determined by how we choose to think and behave, she said.
That 40 percent is the part she focuses on, and she starts by telling people it is critical for individuals to take responsibility for their happiness. As a means to obtain happiness, Passanisi asked her audience to find balance in their lives based on their values and beliefs, deciding what they can do without and using their “heart song” as a compass. According to Passanisi, balance “is a state of mind, not a state of affairs,” a feeling rather than something that can be measured.
“You have to live with intention if you want a healthy balanced life and want to age well,” Passanisi said, asking attendees to imagine what kind of older person they want to be.
She then recommends individuals use their values, beliefs and heart songs to guide them as they try to achieve emotional, social, vocational and spiritual health.
Breathing correctly, sleeping, meditating and practicing gratitude are some of the methods she recommends for achieving balance and happiness.
Outside the lecture hall, surrounded by the dozens of vendors in Schewel Hall’s lobby, Ken Vance, housing services coordinator for the Central Virginia Alliance for Community Living, was marveling at the timing of Tuesday’s talk.
His job can be stressful, he said, describing an unfortunate incident with a contractor who was helping one of his clients just a day before.
“Conferences like this help us get refocused so that we can continue serving the community,” Vance said. He planned to attend a session on aggressive behavior specifically to help him with what he faces at work.
“It’s things like this that help us stay focused and prepare us for whatever we may encounter,” he said.
Janice Stephens, an LPN at the Williams Home, an assisted living facility for women not far from Centra’s Virginia Baptist Hospital, had praise for not only Passanisi, but for the event itself.
“Its so well organized, it’s set up so nicely,” Stephens said as she and a co-worker sifted through the pamphlets and fliers being offered by various agencies.
Passing out information upstairs about the Adult Care Center after the day’s first keynote address, ACC Director Shanda Rowe still was smiling.
“I agree with everything she was saying,” Rowe said. “You have to make your own happiness, and happy people live lives that are much more full.”
“Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born.”Nikola Tesla
Happiness," by Raymond Carver
From "All of Us" (Knoff).
So early it's still almost dark out.
I'm near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.
When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.
They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren't saying anything, these boys.
I think if they could, they would take
each other's arm.
It's early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together.
They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.
Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition, even love,
doesn't enter into this.
Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.
GOOD WORDS TO HAVE
Adulate: To flatter or admire excessively or slavishly.. When the Romans used the Latin verb adulari to mean "to fawn on," they equated it with the behavior of a dog toward its master. The actual root of the word may even be connected to an earlier Indo-European word for "tail" In English, we first used the noun adulation, meaning "exhibition of excessive fondness" (similar in meaning but not etymologically related to adoration), then the adjective adulatory (an adulatory speech, for example, is an excessively flattering one), before we came up with the verb in the 18th century.
William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida
“TROILUS: This she? no, this is Diomed’s Cressida:
If beauty have a soul, this is not she;
If souls guide vows, if vows be sanctimonies,
If sanctimony be the gods’ delight,
If there be rule in unity itself,
This is not she. O madness of discourse,
That cause sets up with and against itself!
Bi-fold authority! where reason can revolt
Without perdition, and loss assume all reason
Without revolt: this is, and is not, Cressid.
Within my soul there doth conduce a fight
Of this strange nature that a thing inseparate
Divides more wider than the sky and earth,
And yet the spacious breadth of this division
Admits no orifex for a point as subtle
As Ariachne’s broken woof to enter.
Instance, O instance! strong as Pluto’s gates;
Cressid is mine, tied with the bonds of heaven:
Instance, O instance! strong as heaven itself;
The bonds of heaven are slipp’d, dissolved, and loosed;
And with another knot, five-finger-tied,
The fractions of her faith, orts of her love,
The fragments, scraps, the bits and greasy relics
Of her o'er-eaten faith, are bound to Diomed.”
“The bright and cheery possibilities of life only reveal themselves after that truly cleansing catastrophe which is correctly called social ruin, and the most hopeful situation in life is when things are going so badly for us that they can’t possibly go worse.” Thomas Mann, Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man
“You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere, and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost. What I am looking for is not out there, it is in me.” Helen Keller
“Don’t feel stupid if you don’t like what everyone else pretends to love.” Emma Watson
“It seems to me that we all look at Nature too much, and live with her too little. I discern great sanity in the Greek attitude. They never chattered about sunsets, or discussed whether the shadows on the grass were really mauve or not. But they saw that the sea was for the swimmer, and the sand for the feet of the runner. They loved the trees for the shadow that they cast, and the forest for its silence at noon.” Oscar Wilde
“Forgetfulness is a form of freedom.” Kahlil Gibran