The people and activities in your life have a profound impact on how happy you are with your life. But many of us don’t consciously choose those things. We sort of go with the flow of whatever shows up in our lives.

Sometimes great people come into our lives and sometimes we find ourselves around people that drag us down rather than lift us up and inspire us. Take a good, clear look at the people you are spending time with. Research tells us that the old adage “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” understates reality. Many things — even your happiness — is significantly influenced by your entire social network. So, choose your friends carefully.

How to Choose a Purposeful Life

How are you choosing the things you will fill your days up doing? A purposeful way to design your life is to consciously build your Happiness Portfolio®. And it needs to include more than your bucket list. Just like you and your financial advisor choose the investments you want in your financial portfolio, you need to deliberately choose the activities you want to have in all areas of your Happiness Portfolio® — your primary relationship, friends and family, professional (if you still want to work in some way), giving back, health and aging, leisure, self-development, and spirituality.

Some of these areas will be more important to you than others. The point is you need to think about what you really want to have in your life and figure out how to make that happen. We know that the happiest people are those who engage in a balanced and diversified range of things that bring them satisfaction, stimulation, and joy.

Live your life on purpose not pot-luck.


Marianne Oehser is an inspiring speaker, educator, author, retirement coach, and consultant. She is a seasoned expert who focuses on assisting people to build happy, fulfilling lives in the “post-career” phase of their lives through her workshops, seminars, public speaking, and individual coaching. She also helps singles and couples build and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships – after all, having a solid relationship is central to creating a happy, fulfilling life.

Her recently released book, Your Happiness Portfolio® for Retirement; It’s Not About the Money is about how to flourish in retirement.

Marianne has retired twice after spending over 40 years in the corporate world. She holds a Masters of Management from Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management in Chicago. She received her coaching training and certifications from Retirement Options and Relationship Coaching Institute. She is a Distinguished Toastmaster.