Who doesn’t want to be happier? We all seek it, yet how do you find it?
The secret to lasting happiness in retirement comes from within. It’s not about money, rather it’s living in the moment and being grateful for all you do have. This includes making a difference for the people you love and care about.
It seems the harder you try, the more elusive it becomes. In fact, genuinely happy people don’t even appear to make an effort, it comes naturally. The key is not chasing after it. The irony is it’s a by-product of doing our best to live a good life.
What is Happiness in Retirement?
Everyone experiences it, but what is it, really?
Is it that momentary feeling of joy washing over you or a longer-term sense of wellbeing and contentment? Based on this definition, it’s both.
You might be wondering what would change after you retire? Now that you have a whole lot more free time, everything should be better. But will you be any happier?
The point being if you understand what makes you happy, you’ll have a better chance of achieving it.
You have the choice of either taking an upbeat view or expecting the worst. Happiness in Retirement is a Choice, not a Given expands upon achieving a more positive outlook. In this crazy world, this is one of the few things we have some control over.
External events can throw us off course. For example, the turmoil of the past year has affected everyone to some degree. A recent poll by NORG reveals 23% of Americans are “not too happy”.
This is 10% jump since 2018 is highly indicative of how 2020 has impacted us. The best we can do is accept what is and focus on moving forward.
Money Doesn't Buy Happiness
What a crock, of course it does! At least for a while…
Who isn’t happy after buying something they really wanted? You save like mad for it until the day you can afford it. Or maybe you whip out your credit card and will worry about it later.
Perhaps it’s an amazing vacation or a new vehicle. The only problem is, after a while, those blissful feelings fade away. The holiday becomes a distant memory. That new car scent has long since dissipated.
The American Dream
The American dream is to live the good life. Have a big house, new cars, dream vacations, and send the kids to the best schools. Who wouldn’t be happy with all that?
For some of these folks, it’s about status and appearing successful. They might be living paycheck to paycheck and consigned themselves to the “gerbil wheel of consumerism”.
Once you’re on it, it’s seems impossible to get off. It’s like a drug. They’re hooked on a lifestyle with diminishing satisfaction. Then comes the day of reckoning after retiring.
Retirement Paradox: Freedom vs. Income
The freedom of time after retiring is of little value without sufficient income to support your lifestyle. Not many of us would be happy surviving in poverty. Many retirees are forced to take an unsatisfying job just to make ends meet.
Baby Boomer Facts reveals over half of Americans have minimal or no savings. They’re completely unprepared and simply can’t afford to retire.
With the economic downturn, older workers are getting laid off in droves. According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, 40.2% of older Americans are completely dependent on Social Security.
Further to this, only 6.8% receive income from a defined benefit pension, defined contribution plan, and Social Security. These aren’t the care-free lifestyles we all envisioned for our golden years.
These are borderline poverty cases with increasing numbers being forced to find ways to supplement their income. While money doesn’t buy happiness, acute scarcity can result in misery.
We’re all social creatures and people matter. Always have and always will. Happily married couples thrive. Friends either improve life or create drama. The quality of our relationships has a direct impact on whether we’re happy or not so much.
Usually, our fondest memories involve someone else. This is also a double-edged sword. Dysfunctional relationships and conflict filled families can be very destructive to our well-being.
A harsh word or selfish action can cut deeply and may never be forgiven. Marital discourse often revolves around unresolved issues from the past.
Trust is eroded after heated re-occurring arguments. After a while, they may lose track of what they’re even fighting about. Many couples have grown distant over the years.
They’re not on the same page and ripe for dissatisfaction. The 7 Most Common Marriage Problems After Retirement captures this sad state of affairs.
The absence of regularly keeping in touch can, also, strain relationships. The past year has been challenging with the all the public health concerns. Goodbye 2020, It’s Time to Rebuild Our Social Connections discusses how to reconnect.
Social isolation is nasty stuff, individuals wither away. Loneliness can lead to feelings of loss, anxiety, and even depression. According to the CDC, 15-20% of Americans over the age of 65 experienced depression.
And, that was before our world turned upside down!
Importance of Healthy Relationships
The old saying is it’s better to give than receive. Nothing could be truer when it comes to family and friends.
According to Harvard Health, the quality of our relationships has a major impact with how happy we are and by extension, our health.
What makes this research unique is the time span and size of study group. They tracked 724 men over an eight-decade period. Conclusively, the study revealed the importance of quality relationships to live longer, happier, and healthier lives.
All too often we get caught up in our problems instead of caring about the people that matter. The Most Important Ingredient for Happiness in Retirement goes into more detail on the importance of good and supportive connections.
Without a doubt, maintaining positive healthy relationships is key to retirement happiness.
Happiness Prevention Team
Who knew there’d be a prevention team?
Well, maybe not an entire team per se, but all those things that drag us down. While they don’t actually prevent us from feeling happy, they can make it more difficult.
Closing Thoughts on Retirement Happiness
Each of us can probably rattle off dozens of things that make us unhappy. The reverse isn’t as easy, especially when you think in terms of lasting happiness.
The reason is because most of us don’t really know what we need or want. It’s filled with intangibles. We tend to think of it as a joy-filled fleeting moment.
When we discuss it in terms of retirement, it’s more about finding satisfaction and contentment in the years to come. Knowing you have a good life with gratitude for all you have.
Realizing the importance of quality relationships and striving to always do and be your best.
Good points. I think happiness is a choice, to a large degree. And being able to roll with the ups and downs with life is also important, because stuffing emotions and pretending to be happy is counter productive. I have had to work hard to allow negative emotions, then let them go. 🙂
Thank you, Bethany! Excellent thoughts.
And yes happiness is a choice we each make. Adventures in a floating house sounds like it helps you with the “ups and downs of life” LOL. I think we all struggle with letting negative emotions not rule us. All we can do is what you suggested, work it through and let it go.