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Life Events :  Retirement

Nolo.com

From the Nolo.com Retirement Center

Successful retirees share their thoughts about living a joyful life after retirement.

Why do some retirees cope with life so much better than others? Part of the answer is fairly obvious: things like getting lots of exercise, keeping busy and creating strong friendships and family bonds.

But something else also seems to be at work. Since I can't quite describe it, I simply call it "love of life." Over and above--and sometimes even instead of--good living habits, it really does seem to set zestful older people apart from so many other retirees who have lost their joie de vivre.

I put the question to some successful retirees: Why do some older people have the knack of living life fully, even though, by conventional measures, they have plenty of reason to feel depressed, bored and lonely? Here are some of the thoughtful answers I received.

Honor Your Eccentricity

Throughout our lives, most of us strive to fit in. Whether we are in fifth grade, high school or at work, we want to be accepted by the people around us. Somewhat surprisingly, many of the most successful retirees I interviewed claimed to have often failed miserably at this and cheerfully described themselves as "odd," "wacky" or "a little nuts."

One friend, Afton Crooks, explained it like this: "I am the first to admit that I have always been a little odd. You can't help but observe how you fit--or, in my case, often don't fit--into the world. I gained a sense of humility, or reduced expectations, about life that many conventionally popular people never achieve. Thus I was better adapted to being old in America, a country where everyone over 60 is fundamentally considered to be weird."

Develop and Respect Toughness


Many happy retirees believe that they have lived harder lives than many of their contemporaries. Like my friend Gretchen, who calls herself a "tough old bird," they believe that coping with tough problems earlier in life makes them better equipped to cope with old age.


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