My dad just turned 80 years young.

As I get older I'm realizing that my dad has taught me a lot about how to be happy. Although he wasn't really "teaching" me... more like setting a great example by the way he has lived his life. Unfortunately, as is common with kids, I didn't appreciate or realize most of it until now.

My dad was very successful in his career.

Did he make millions? No. But he was a beloved teacher who has on many occasions had former students contact him. How many of your middle school teachers have you been compelled to look up and connect with? I know... not very common. Says a lot about the kind of teacher he was. And to me, THAT is success.

He managed to raise a family of six on a teacher's salary. Did we always get everything we wanted? No. But we had what we needed. And more importantly, he was there. He was home every afternoon by 4pm. He coached my brother's Little League team. And when I ran cross country in high school and the coaches required us to do two-a-days he got up every morning and ran with me, in the dark, at 5am.

On his birthday he told me he's already beaten the odds.

He said the average teacher dies seven years after retiring. Not my dad. He's still enjoying life. Exercising every day. Playing softball every week.

In fact he's fit enough to walk a 5K, which he did with our family on Thanksgiving morning. As he and I were walking the last mile together, he looked around and said he didn't see anyone else his age. I glanced around, and I didn't either. I've never thought of my dad as old. I guess maybe he is. But he sure doesn't seem it. I hope I'm still walking 5K's at 80.

He and my mom have been married for more than 50 years-a rarity these days.

He took care of her when she broke her hip. They travel the world together. Yep, he's one of the good guys.

Clearly my dad knows what's important.

Family. Being there for those you love. Making a difference in people's lives. Staying active and fit. Living life.

He got a new car for his birthday. My mom had to twist his arm to get him to buy it. He's frugal that way. But I suppose that's how he was able to always give us what we needed, and live a pretty darn good life, on a teacher's salary. He got a Honda Civic. He said he didn't need anything more than that. It was fun to see him with his new car. He was so excited. First new car he's had in years.

A great example of focusing on what's really important.

That's what my dad has been, and continues to be, for me.

Yes, I chased success and money for a few years. I didn't see the lessons in how to live a rich and fulfilling life that my dad was teaching me. But I see them now. And I just hope I can do the same for my kids.

Author's Bio: 

After spending 25 years in the marketing industry, Debbie LaChusa became so frustrated with its "be more, do more, have more" mentality that she began speaking out about it. She wrote a book entitled "Breaking the Spell: The Truth about Money, Success, and the Pursuit of Happiness" and created the Money Success Happiness blog all in an effort to help others learn how to stop chasing money, success, and happiness and instead discover the true path to a happy, healthy, wealthy life. To to learn more and read the first chapter of "Breaking the Spell" for free, visit