Stan's World - The Art of HappinessSubmitted by S. F. Ehrlich Associates, Inc. on July 6th, 2018
June 30, 2018
Are you a pre-retiree who dreams of retiring so you can wake up every morning with a big smile on your face? Do you envision endless days of joy, with time spent fishing, hiking, eating, socializing, or gardening? Is your vision of retirement an image of pure bliss?
The title of an article in The Wall Street Journal1 suggests otherwise: An ignored skill in aging: having fun.” An ignored skill? “Experts abound in elderly grief, illness, finance, and ethics but few focus on ways to enjoy plentiful leisure time.”
The article points out that retirees have 7½ hours of leisure time a day, but also watch an average of 48 hours a week of television. (Coincidentally, 48 hours of television watching a week is also approximately 7 hours per day.)
We know that older adults are happier than middle-aged and younger adults. They also worry less and have less stress and anger. But are they having fun? (I guess the answer is yes for those who enjoy watching television.)
Notes the Journal, older adults “spent the past 40 years showing up for work every day, paying off mortgages, getting kids through school and taking care of aging parents. Having fun and being spontaneous – a key element of fun and play – gets lost. It’s considered nonproductive, which makes some people feel guilty.”
I ask virtually everyone I meet the same question after they tell me they’re about to retire: What are you doing to do? Too often, the answer I hear is what they’re not going to do (i.e., work). While I know a lot of people who keep very busy in retirement, I’ve often wondered whether busy equates with happiness. In fact, might the burden of filling a calendar with appointments be stressful in and of itself?
The benefits of having fun, often affiliated with some aspect of socialization with others, are well documented. “Laughter, levity, enjoyment, diversion – can act as antidotes to stress, depression, and anxiety.” Further, “social connections are linked to better cognitive health in later life and a lower likelihood of developing dementia.”
As a parent, when our kids complained they had nothing to do, I told them to go find some friends and play. Perhaps, it’s time for our kids to tell us the same thing.