Our previous posting here references US News’ recent article by Sydney Lagier: 7 Secrets to a Happy Retirement. In that posting, we reviewed Sydney’s first 2 secrets: good health and having a significant other in your life. Let’s look at three more of these secrets.
A Social Network. The US News article mentions research showing that those of us with “strong social networks are 30 percent happier with their lives than those without… “. It also turns out that those with strong social networks are less likely to die over a given period. (This is from a recent NY Times article, “A New Risk Factor: Your Social Life.”) We are now learning that having weak social ties can be as harmful as being an alcoholic, being a smoker, not exercising and being obese. Now, if you are After Fifty and lack in the social department – what should you do? If you are physically able, get up and get out and start shaking some hands. Think about activities that you like and then seek out the like-minded. You’ll have something to talk about right off the bat. And you’ll enhance the quality of your life AND your health in the process. Meanwhile, if you know any elderly who live alone, arrange for them to visit the Senior Center in their town a couple of times a week. Their lives may depend on it, too.
Not Addicted to Television. Yes, that’s right. You can be happy – in fact, you’re more likely to be happy, without the tube. No one is saying to that you need to throw it out – but you need to achieve balance. As you approach retirement, think carefully about how you will spend the precious hours you have. Figuring that out in advance will help prevent you from slipping into some bad habits. Watching too much television numbs your brain – that is something none of us need.
Intellectual Curiosity. “Adults over 70 who choose brain-stimulating hobbies over TV watching are two and a half times less likely to suffer the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.” How do you stimulate that brain of yours? Many/most colleges and universities offer significantly reduced tuition rates for seniors. So, take advantage of it. Learn a new language. Discover how our political process really works. Take some mini- courses in your community. Learn how to fillet a fish, handle a chainsaw, crochet, rebuild an engine, use the iPhone or the iPad. Anything. Just get those brain cells moving around. One of the benefits may just be that you’ll spend much less time watching TV and more time flexing your neurons. And that will not only make you healthier, it will make you happier, as well!
Our next posting will take a look at the final two “secrets” to a happy retirement: not being addicted to achievement; and having enough money.