Peter thought that he had achieved a fair degree of success in his career as he approached retirement. He had climbed the corporate ladder and had a good job, attractive partner, nice house and car and only one divorce. He did however suffer from anxiety attacks and wasn’t really happy. Something was missing but he didn’t know just what it was.
Peter is a product of our society. He thought that he needed to focus on himself “look after number one – no one else will”; he believed that buying nice things would make him happy and a good job and salary means a successful life. There’s nothing unusual about any of Peter’s beliefs – the only problem is that they are not the answer to finding a happy life.
The unfortunate reality is that trying to find lasting happiness by accumulating money, power and love doesn’t work very well.
Depression, anxiety and other mental conditions affect an increasingly large proportion of the population. Australia now has the unenviable title as the second highest consumer of anti- depressant drugs in the world (Iceland is first). Currently 1 in 10 Australians are on anti-depressants and that suggests that we should be looking at our lifestyles and rethinking how we can get more happiness into our lives.
Retirement gives Peter the opportunity to think about his past and future life and what changes he needs to make if he is to find lasting happiness. Fortunately the answers aren’t that complicated. We just need to understand that lasting happiness isn’t dependent on external factors – it comes from within us. It’s about our attitude and the way we view the world. We stand a far better chance of finding happiness ourselves if we put more effort into making other people happy. Contributing to the wellbeing of others in his community will keep Peter socially engaged and feeling better about himself and the world.
If this advice sounds a bit airy-fairy, I can offer a list of 10 practical steps that you can take to get more happiness into your life. In our book “A Holistic Guide to a Happy Retirement” we have included an article by Prof. Tim Sharp titled “Happiness – How you can experience more”. Prof. Sharp believes that happiness is a skill that most people can learn and if you follow his 10 suggestions covering lifestyle and attitude issues, you should find more happiness in your life. You can order the book on this web site.