Column: Want more joy?

Ellen Wood

I've changed the title of my column!

For 11 years I've had a monthly column in the Taos News called Tips to Grow Younger, based on the program of daily body/mind/spirit practices I've developed that reversed my early symptoms of Alzheimer's, stopped my gnarled fingers from hurting and helped shift my perspective about aging.

In recent years, though, I've been writing about all sorts of things in my column and I hear from people of all ages, so I decided to change the title to Tips to Live Happy.

I know, I know. Life these days seems like it's one damn thing after another, but there's an awful lot of good happening, too. People are helping people and, despite the pandemic and their own economic hardships, they're feeling all right. Others have a job, good health and good relationships, but are down in the dumps. Why the difference? I believe I can offer some perspective on that. Nothing earth-shakingly new - just reminders of techniques we've allowed ourselves to forget.

Of course, I have no initials after my name to lend authority to my words, but I'm almost 84 years old, and although I've been extremely blessed, I've lived through frightening years of poverty, survived breast cancer, experienced memory loss and suffered bouts of clinical depression (and will never take myself off my antidepressant again).

I've also had the blues and found myself looking at life through dark-colored glasses until I remembered to use mind/spirit practices to shift my outlook.

In this column I plan to continue sharing with you how I've botched things up, and the ways I've found to bring myself back onto a more joyful track. This month I want to tell you about my arthritic fingers and what happened several weeks ago when I went to Santa Fe with my daughter.

On the way home we stopped at the fruit stand in Velarde and I did something I haven't done in quite a few years: I bought a cherry pie - a big, scrumptious-looking, just-baked cherry pie. My mouth was watering all the way home, and I really wanted to eat it all myself, but I gave my daughter two pieces and another piece to a friend. Not exactly begrudgingly, but close.

Over the next two days, I ate the whole rest of the pie by myself. Tasted heavenly but boy, did my fingers hurt! It just didn't occur to me that three quarters of a pie would be loaded with sugar. I have been substituting Stevia for sugar so many years that I totally forgot why I stopped sugar in the first place: to avoid painful fingers!

As I reflect on that pie, I realize I ate it because it made me happy - sugar makes us happy. But there are other kinds of sweetness in life, so let's find another way to get that same feeling.

Ellen Wood of Questa is the award-winning author of the series of books, "The Secret Method for Growing Younger," available at Her website is Contact Ellen at

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