If you’re struggling to enjoy your retirement then you might want to consider picking up a part time job or volunteering down at your local op shop, as new research has revealed that the key to a happy retirement is living with a sense of purpose.
The findings, which were published in author Michael Longhurst’s new book Enjoying Retirement, show that retirees who spend time doing “purposeful activities” throughout the week admitted to being far happier than those who fill their time with purely recreational activities.
Speaking to the Herald Sun, Longhurst said: “Some people felt trapped in the workforce when they really wanted to be out playing golf or fishing. But what we found was that those recreational activities didn’t make all that much difference to the way people thought about themselves in retirement. Whereas, purposeful activities did.”
However the study – which questioned more than 2,000 retirees and defines happiness as being free of stress, anxiety and depression – also showed that simply carrying out purposeful activities wasn’t enough to make a beneficial impact. Positive results were only seen when retirees committed to a minimum of five hours a week.
Longhurst added: “We found that when people had five hours or more of purposeful activity (such as volunteering or part-time work) a week, they were the ones who were less stressed and depressed.”
The findings also revealed that grandchildren can have both a positive and, perhaps surprisingly, a negative impact on the happiness of retirees, with Longhurst pointing out that not all grandparents want to be tied down with childcare commitments.
He said: “What a lot of retirees were saying was, ‘We want to get in our caravan and we want to go away, but we’re tied to these people who expect us to be on-call, unpaid babysitters’. Some were even displaying signs of stress.
“These people felt that they weren’t appreciated, that they were expected to do this, and there were some very angry people.”
The book, which is described as a “handbook”, also addressed the issues that arise when couples are forced to spend more time with each as a result of retirement, saying that a breakdown in communication can lead to problems, and unhappiness, for some pairs.
3) Start a “side hustle”. Even if you officially “retired” and promised yourself a life of leisure, you can always start a little at-home business or commercial hobby. My mum runs an eBay store selling old books. A friend of my dad’s made wooden cars and sold them through the community.