Searching For Happiness

The majority of surveys indicate that about 65% of seniors and retirees are happy or satisfied in this phase of life – which means that approximately a third are not.

The search for happiness is what many spend their entire lives looking for, only to find that it has eluded them. This can lead to depression or switching off from leading a fulfilling life. The problem with happiness is that it is a one-sided illusion. When we get married we hear, “live happily ever after”. That may have been true in the fantasy world of Hollywood in the 50’s. The reality is quite different.

Approximately, 50% of marriages end in divorce and in the remainder approximately half are unhappy or “just getting along”. So we see people approaching retirement thinking, “Gee, I thought it was going to be different by now”.

It’s not just the relationship situation. Some have health issues in their later years which makes them miserable and for others it is a lack of money. Today 77% of those over 65 receive some form of government pension.

If we think during our lives that if we have money, a great family, good marriage, etc., that it will make us happy. However, all of these come with their down sides. What family hasn’t had conflict  in one form or another. Searching for happiness is a bit like trying to find a one-sided magnetic. A magnet has both a positive and negative pole and no matter how many times you saw it in half, it will have the same positive and negative.

Life is both positive and negative, support and challenge, pain and pleasure, and the secret is to integrate and appreciate both sides. So what can one do practically to deal with their perceived unhappiness?

Here is a strategy, particularly for retirees.

1. Identify what is making you unhappy. Whatever that is, write down at least 10 benefits of that issue on a piece of paper. For example, if your husband left you for a younger woman when you were in your fifties, write down 10 benefits – don’t stop until you can think of all 10 and put them down on paper. Keep going further if need be,  until you start to feel that the event is not pushing your buttons to the same degree.

2. Find a mentor. Everyone needs a mentor. As we get older we may think, “I don’t need some youngster to tell me what to do”! Mentorship is about giving guidance in any area of life. A priest or rabbi could be a mentor. A financial advisor guiding seniors with their investments could be a mentor. Even a retiree embarking on a new career needs a mentor to assist in fulfilling goals. Find someone that you readily connect with and who doesn’t charge too much, then do it.

3. Studies have shown that physical activity at any age enhances a state of wellbeing. If you feel unhappy or down, the stimulation and chemicals released in the body will change your mental state. 

4. Find a renewed purpose. Studies have also shown that those with a purpose feel more inspired and have a greater chance of living longer. Get involved; create a new business; develop a hobby or volunteer – you will be greatly rewarded.

Live life to the fullest!

Retirement – A Chance To Be Daring

Retirement – A Chance To Be Daring
You wouldn’t think that the words retirement and daring could be used in the same sentence. It may be counterintuitive, but you have the freedom and opportunity to be daring, especially as you don’t have to worry about whether you are going to cause strife with friends or work colleagues.
We basically have 3 phases to our lives:

This is where we do our schooling and college training so that we can have the opportunities and preparation for the next phase of our lives.

In this phase we have children, succeed in our jobs, and hopefully have some asset accumulation.
Traditionally, this has been when we usually slow down and for  some unfortunately, it is a period in which they wait for the end. This paradigm is starting to change.
I want to address the retirement phase because not only do you not have to slow down; you can just change the form of what you have been doing. You can have tremendous freedom because you no longer have dependent children nor a specific job to tie you down. So you are free to pick and choose how you want to live your life.
In late 2011 we decided to do something different, what some others considered daring. We decided that we would sell up everything; our house, car and even some furnishings, and travel over the following year without a definitive plan of where we would live. The only thing that we did know was that we would probably be coming back to Perth because of our children and grandchildren. The comments that we typically received were; “You guys are crazy.” “How can you just sell up and go?” “What about your family?” We did think after a while that this was something that people just didn’t do. We were wrong. If you think you are doing something that no one else has done, don’t worry, there is always someone who is doing it and perhaps to a greater degree.
Several weeks ago while we were in America, we came across an article in USA Today about a retired couple who sold everything up; house, cars, furnishings, to permanently travel. Lynne and Tim Martin, 73 and 68 from California have created a “home-free” lifestyle whereby they rent apartments in various countries and even back in the states, so that they can see their family occasionally. They do this all on $70,000 a year, not a fortune, but they can have a comfortable lifestyle by budgeting for the different places that they stay.
You see, Lynne and Tim have decided that for them, seeing the world, sharing time together, having new and exciting experiences is highest in value. While some may consider them crazy, they have a sense of liberation living their life as they do. 
I really see retirement as an opportunity to push the boundaries, to experience things you did not have the time or perhaps money to do in your earlier years. Even if you don’t have the money, retirement is the time to be free to just think of new horizons. So go for it and don’t worry about what others think. As a colleague of mine once said, “Better to piss somebody else off than to piss off yourself”.

3 Tips To Prevent Homecoming Blues

Our travels may be active, such as hiking, skiing, cycling or other outdoor activities or they may be passive, such as cruising or bus tours. Each has it’s issues for seniors. Active travel may leave us aching and tired, and passive travel may result in indigestion and an increase in our girth.

When we return home, we may feel grumpy and a bit depressed. This may result from feeling exhausted from our travels plus feeling overwhelmed by the household bills and chores awaiting us. Often we face the onslaught of family and for some of us, a return to work, and our holiday seems lost in the daily routine.

Three tips to keep your holiday fun alive are;

1. Keep a blog or diary while you are travelling and on your return home you can create a scrapbook, either digitally or hard copy. Another idea is to turn your blog and photos into a coffee table book. There are several websites which can help you create this for a moderate cost.

2. Using your blog or diary, reflect on the best and worst of your trip. Review what was easy and maybe where you over-taxed yourselves. Decide what you would like to see and do again, and what you are not fussed about repeating.

3. Start creating your next adventure.

a. Dream what you would love to do and keep photos of the places you would love to visit in a dream book
b. Plan for your next adventure
c. Cost your plan and start saving
d. Prepare yourself physically and mentally. This may include learning a few words in a different language or increasing your level of fitness.

As one of my elderly patients told me, I just have to close my eyes and I can remember all the wonderful places I have seen, together with the sounds and smells which are still fresh in my mind.

Travel provides three important ingredients for healthy ageing- physical activity, mental stimulation and connection with other people.

Keep travelling- it is good for you!