In a recent Sixty and Me article I addressed three things about retirement that can take us by surprise. The next topic worth examining, as you consider your life during retirement, is a simple question that’s loaded with possibility: What are you yearning for?

Let’s dive into a helpful discussion in this second part of a three-part series about living a happy retired life. I hope you’ll get some food for thought for living your happy life at 60 and beyond, retired or not.

What Makes You Happy?

Life is ever evolving and oftentimes moves at lightning speed, compared to the pace previous generations experienced. Similarly, the things that make us happy can change with different seasons of life.

 
 

Baby Boomers are tackling these changes while re-defining retirement. Above all, we’re taking a close look at what will make us happy during that life stage.

But our quest begins with a lot of self-examination. Before we take big steps forward, these three concepts deserve a little reflection.

Meaningful Lives Are Happy Lives

Back in our days of 9-to-5, we had reasons to get up in the morning. People depended on us. Most of the time that felt good. We may have also played meaningful roles while raising a family, taking care of loved ones, managing a household. We may have been the engines that kept our home lives running.

We don’t want to ride off into the sunset just because we retired from a job or our children grew up.

Most 21st century retirees still want to contribute something to the world after they leave their careers. They don’t want to play endless rounds of golf or live all their days on a cruise ship, despite the allure of leisure time activities.

Leisure activities are wonderful opportunities to bring more joy into our lives, but they alone are not enough for true happiness.

We still want people to care what we have to say, what we think. We may want to contribute to something greater than ourselves. We want to identify what we still have to offer the world.

We yearn for a life that has meaning.

Connections Bring Fulfillment

As much as we may relish our alone time, eventually most of us need to venture into the outside world. We need to engage.

Engagement is about connection. Connection keeps feelings of isolation at bay. Our hearts become fuller, our lives richer and our intellects sharper in the presence of other people who lift us up.

In our work lives, or when we were raising children, our connections often defaulted to those in the same orbit as we were… other moms, co-workers, clients. As we age, we develop a new idea of ‘community’ and a renewed need to feel connected and engaged.

As retirees, we have the gift of creating connections in ways that we haven’t tried before and engage with others in new conversations. As a result, we can cultivate more meaningful relationships.

There’s a high correlation between being happy and feeling connected to others in the spirit of community.

Challenges Can Be Exhilarating

When we retired we didn’t give up doing things that stretch us. We just gave up doing something we probably did very well. A happy retired life often means we take on different challenges. When we embrace something new, however small, we can feel more alive.

It’s taken us years to develop our talents, to hone our skills, to identify our gifts. During our retired lives, we’re not shying away from challenging ourselves. We’re embracing the chance to take a chance!

Learning to paint, starting a small business, taking a class in a subject that’s always fascinated us. There are hundreds of adventures we yearn to take; numerous pursuits we find stimulating. They can open channels to possibilities we never knew existed. Or that we only used to dream about.

Meaning, engagement and challenge are concepts at the heart of what most of us are yearning for. They go beyond the daily pleasures of retired life and lead us to what will truly make us happy as we blaze our trails through this next phase of lifelong growth.

What are you doing to remain engaged and challenged and to bring meaning to your life at 60 and beyond? Please join the conversation below!

Marcia SmalleyMarcia Smalley is a certified life coach, writer and teacher. She delights in inspiring mid-life women to step confidently into their next act and loves helping them design a joyous, expanded life. Marcia firmly believes that you are not too old, and it’s not too late, to create the life you love. Please visit her website here.

Let's Have a Conversation!