Knowing where you stand and how you view issues is directly related to your happiness and … viewpoints evolve over the years. When I was a young pup, say in my 40s, I believed that anyone over the age of 65 should retire and get out of the way. It was easy to discount the hard-earned wisdom and experience brought by aging. I observed my parents and others as the grew older. They started to move more slowly and walked with the ‘old person shuffle’ as it became a bit more difficult to balance and stabilize. Not as spry as they used to be that is for sure. I wrongly surmised that if the body was declining, the brain must be getting worn out too.

By the time I got to age 80, and was mastering my own distinctive form of the ‘old person shuffle,’ I was beginning to wonder if parts of my brain would soon need crutches. The President of the United States Is running for another four-year term. The news is full of insinuations about his ability to do the job because he is 81. From my perspective, at the age of 85, four years older than our president, I fully understand that an aging person’s brain may still be intact, and in fact, be packed with many years of experience and insights which are exactly what he needs to do the most difficult job in the world. He may not have seen it all in the many years of his political life, but he has seen a lot. Now that’s perspective!

Are you happy? Mo Gawdat, the author of Scary/Smart, one of the most important books I have read, points out that the Declaration of Independence lists “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as the reasons a government should exist. The current administration is trying to honor these mandates.

You do your best to provide food, clothing, shelter, education, and most importantly, love to your family. Does our government provide these inalienable rights to all citizens? Do you benefit from government actions that serve the people? If not, are you working to make sure it does? When others succeed, happiness spreads to all. Now that’s a good perspective.

Yuval Noah Harari is perhaps the world’s leading philosopher. He is a historian, professor, and most of all, a great teacher. Harari explains that human history is determined by the stories we tell. Religions are based on these stories. Our daily lives and interactions are based on stories that teach us the difference between good and evil. We use stories to teach our children not to lie, not to steal, not to hurt others, and not to accept any form of false testimony. The rule of law is based on these stories and enforced by the courts.

That’s one outlook. The opposite viewpoint is that those who lie, cheat, steal, and hurt people create new stories that are designed to give them control over others. If they just repeat their stories enough times, some people will begin to think they are true.

Which side are you on? The two perspectives are always in conflict. In every age the battle goes on and Americans are being called upon to take sides now. How will your choice affect your happiness?