When planning for retirement, it’s easy to focus only on money. We assume that, once we finally quit work, we’ll be happy, especially if we have a high-stress job. It’s not always that simple, however. Some people find retirement to be a mental challenge. So, what differentiates happy retirees from those that struggle? Here are 5 traits of happy retirees, all of which cost nothing.
1. They Minimize Their Stress Over Money
When we think in terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, financial security is a basic need that comes before any psychological needs or self-fulfillment. Knowing there are no guarantees about the future, happy retirees have done their best to understand their income and plan their spending accordingly. Building a cash emergency fund and allocating their investments properly are part of their financial preparations for retirement.
However, happy retirees understand and accept that things do not always go as planned. If there’s a recession or bear market, they know they can adjust and make things work. Rather than constantly stressing over what could go wrong, they instead do the best they can to prepare and go about living their lives.
2. They Connect Regularly With Family & Friends
It’s no surprise that there’s a positive correlation between human connection and happiness. Community has been a necessity for humans reaching back through our entire existence.
However, retirement can become a challenging time to stay connected. Many people leave behind strong social connections at work after they retire. Even if your coworkers may not be your closest friends and confidantes, we all gain some social connection through work.
People who find happiness in retirement build new social routines during this time of life change. They intentionally create regular activities where social connections are featured. Building this new post-retirement social routine is key toward boosting happiness by creating and maintaining social bonds.
3. They Place Importance On Their Health
Not only can eating right and exercising increase your lifespan, it also vastly improves your happiness. Studies have shown that staying fit and healthy can improve the overall quality of life for retirees. In addition, regular exercise and eating right helps reduce risks associated with obesity, including hypertension, diabetes, and stroke.
Not surprisingly, a healthy diet and exercise have psychological benefits as well. Exercise is great for getting better sleep – something that becomes more difficult as you age (or so I hear). Exercise and diet also contribute to better cognitive function, reduce depression, lower stress, and potentially slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
4. They Cultivate A Positive Attitude
Believe it or not, maintaining a positive attitude can help you live a longer, happier life. Cultivating a positive, optimistic attitude helps happy retirees experience less stress, become more resilient, and increase the likelihood that they will pursue health and fitness activities.
By maintaining an optimistic mindset, happy retirees create a positive feedback loop with the people around them. Conversely, people who maintain a pessimistic attitude tend to have shorter lifespans, higher rates of depression, higher stress, less effective immune systems, and higher instances of heart disease.
5. They’re Engaged In At Least One Challenging Passion
Finally – and perhaps most importantly – happy retirees are engaged in at least one activity that has personal meaning or importance. While some find this meaning by volunteering in their community, a challenging passion doesn’t have to be focused on making the world a better place. A hobby as simple as woodworking, painting, perfecting a golf swing, or learning the piano will do.
In my experience, those retirees who found enjoyment in an engaging endeavor of some sort tended to be happier, healthier, and maintained their mental acuity over the years. I believe our minds are built to crave novel challenges. Without it, retirement can become a struggle for meaning.
If you need help planning for a happy retirement, then click here to set up a quick, complimentary introduction call to see if Prana Wealth is a good fit. We do still have the capacity to take on new clients.
As a fee-only financial advisor in Atlanta, we can (and do) work virtually with clients all across the U.S. and we’re here to help you when you’re ready.