As senior citizens pursue a satisfying retirement, one truth inevitably becomes apparent. Filling the day with many activities is not the best focus of our efforts. We soon learn that the quantity of our activities is less important than the quality of what we do. What is the purpose of a frenetic-paced collection of random accomplishments if at the end of the day I feel no real satisfaction and have no sense of a day well spent?
Too often we hustle through the day with our mind a million miles away, missing the opportunity to live in this current moment and appreciate all that it has to offer. We hurry to a lunch date, eat our food without paying attention to what we are putting into our mouth, impatiently honk at the slower car in front of us, miss the beauty of a sunny day, and generally overlook the quality of life. Our mind is focused elsewhere on the quantity of our to-dos. We need to realize it is in our power to enhance our quality of life. Here’s how to reclaim our lives and stop missing the simple pleasures:
1. Awaken your senses. Notice the details in the world around you. As you shower in the morning, close your eyes and pay particular attention to the scents that your soaps and shampoos offer. Get up a little early to catch the sunrise. If you are not a morning person, schedule your day so you are situated for the sunset. Sit down, listen, and appreciate music without other distractions. Senses tend to dull if they go ignored or unused.
2. Pay attention to the eating experience. Meals are not just a way to fill our bellies. They are experiences to enjoy. Take your time and make each meal special, substituting TV with conversation. This is your chance to savor a myriad of tastes, ponder the wonderful combinations of spices and tempting textures, and experience eating as an event, not a distraction. Try to take your time and enjoy.
3. Indulge without feeling guilty. We may have obsessions that we attempt to control. When we give in we often punish ourselves mercilessly. While too much of a good thing can be bad, indulge yourself once in a while. Make the indulgence a conscious effort and agree not to feel guilty. Focus on the pleasure and do not fear the consequences.
4. Dress up for no particular reason. Many people dress for comfort these days, which is, of course, our option. But don’t you feel a little better about yourself when you put on nice pants, add a special scarf to your ensemble, or spend a little more time than usual fixing your hair just so? When you look good, you feel good. And should you unexpectedly run into someone during the course of the day your first impression will be a positive.
5. Eliminate clutter. Clean out a closet, rearrange the garage, straighten up the kitchen, and put things into order. We have far too many things, and managing them distracts us from living.
6. Try something for the first time. In retirement you have time to do things that you have wanted to all your life. You can choose any activity that suits your personal tastes. What are you waiting for?
Dave Bernard is not yet retired but has begun his due diligence to plan for a satisfying retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.