While we’re still working, the idea of sitting around and just relaxing may sound very appealing, and it is — for a while. However, if it becomes a major part of our life in retirement, we’re heading for trouble. Just watching lots of TV and avoiding any activities that require much physical or mental effort is a sure path to boredom and unhappiness.
Once we retire, most people find a life of passive leisure, just enjoying the freedom from work and responsibility, is not the answer to a happy retirement. It is only by organising our lives so we are physically, mentally and creatively challenged can most people find happiness and satisfaction in their retirement years. To be truly alive and enjoying this world, we need to be stimulated and handling challenges is generally a stimulating activity.
Probably for the first time for most of us, retirement gives us the time and the opportunity to do many of the things that we have put off for years. Don’t waste it. Don’t let excuses like ‘I’m too old’ or ‘I don’t have the energy’ rob you of the satisfaction of achieving something you have wanted to do for years. The more interesting, new, challenging activities we take on, the happier and more alive we will be. As well as making us feel better, these challenges are generally good exercises for our brains. Unused brains, like unused bodies, will deteriorate and that’s bad news when you’re over 50.
Fortunately exercises and activities that are good for our bodies are generally also good for our brains. Activities like walking, playing sports, learning new dance steps, swimming and surfing benefit both our brains and our bodies. There are also a range of mental exercises we can do to give our brains a good workout.
If we are actively participating in life we will be interacting with other people, meeting new friends, and probably making a useful contribution to the community. Such activities help us to avoid becoming isolated as we grow older and isolation can lead us down the path to depression and failing health. Think about it! We all have a limited time left on this earth and it’s our choice as to how we use it.
If you would like to get some expert’s views on how to manage some of these challenges and opportunities , our book How to stay Healthy, Active & Sharp can be a useful source of information. It’s available at www.retirementbooks.com.au.