Life has its inevitable ups and downs, and the challenges we experience might not always seem fair. But there’s no need let your happiness depend upon life’s uncontrollable circumstances.

“What you want and what you get are not always one and the same,” says Amy Shea, author of the new book “Defending Happiness and Other Acts of Bravery,” a collection of short stories about her life’s journey with adversity. “The key is to find what makes you happy and defend it.”

In her book, Shea details how tough circumstances have not deterred her from living life on her own terms.

For example, she ultimately came to view her battle with breast cancer as a gift of opportunity.  “What is possible to do in one’s life changes remarkably when one fears death more than embarrassment,” she says.

Shea has experienced poverty, divorce, cancer and the daily woes of aging, parenting and being parented, but believes that come what may, she is prepared to defend her right to be happy.

She offers these insights for those seeking happiness as they age:

• Your emotions do not need to be an automatic reaction to what happens to you. By believing that, you abdicate choice. It is not life that is happy or not. It’s you.

• Don’t forget to simply sit from time to time and do some inner wandering. Original thought happens a lot more easily this way than while texting on the treadmill.

• Life is neither fair nor kind — but it is full of beauty and humor, and open to direction.

• When it comes to picking your battles, energy is like eye cream: expensive. So use just what you need and put it right where you want it.

• Aging won’t be smooth and firm and flawless, but it is not the enemy. In fact, there are certain things about youth you won’t miss at all.

• All of us have individual wiring that can get buried from time to time under habits we’ve formed. Be deeply committed toward the wiring that makes you happy.

• View life as a dynamic creative disturbance and don’t forget to show up — it’s worth whatever trouble it takes.

More insights can be found in Shea’s new book and online at

Whether you’re experiencing adversity or simply going through the daily annoyances — you can empower yourself by going after, and protecting your happiness.



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