Fifth, Ronald Reagan was an optimist. In the chapter on optimism in my book, I note that there are two types of optimism: 1) believing the future is bright; and 2) seeing the bright side of any situation (the proverbial ability to turn lemons into lemonade). Ronald Reagan was an optimist in both meanings of the word.
Sixth, he had a great marriage. Few marriages are as happy as the Reagans'. He and Nancy were best friends, partners in a higher cause, and lovers. As one eulogy put it, all it took for Ronald Reagan to feel lonely was for Nancy to leave the room.
There is a troubling conclusion to be drawn from this description of Ronald Reagan's happiness: A generation of Americans has been raised with none of these vital attributes of happiness. Instead, Americans are being raised in secular schools and in secular society where God and religion are increasingly marginalized.
Likewise, too few young Americans are raised with a strong American identity. Like religious identity, national identity is either ignored or viewed with contempt.
As a result, many have no greater sense of purpose than getting good grades, getting into a good college, becoming famous and being successful. And thanks to the secular immersion they undergo, they do not believe there is any transcendent meaning to life. That is one reason so many young people are jaded as compared to their religious peers.
As for optimism, young Americans are raised to worry incessantly about their future -- for example, that they will die of secondhand smoke, corporate pollution, global warming, AIDS, or some other threat to their health.
Finally, marriage is rarely encouraged. Girls, for example, are told that a career is more important to their happiness than marriage to a good man. So, they are less likely to meet their version of a Ronald Reagan. By the time they realize that a career does little to provide the happiness that a good marriage provides, they are less likely to meet the right man. Meanwhile, seeing that girls are no more interested than they are in marriage, young men are only too happy to get as much sex without commitment as they can.
This nation was deeply influenced by Ronald Reagan's ideas. We need to be as influenced by his happiness.