So, you’ve finally retired! You’ve stepped into that wonderful, beautiful next phase of your life, right? Time to be happy! No more deadlines, no more schedules, no more pandering to the Boss! (That might be the best one ever!) Yea You, Congratulations!!
I know when I retired, I was ecstatic. My life was finally my own, I was free! Oh so many plans, do what I want when I want! Who wouldn’t possibly love that! Life was finally good, very good! But, and you know there is always a but, after a few months of traveling and sleeping late, I found I wasn’t happy. What happened? This is supposed to be an automatic occurrence! I’ve been waiting for this day for many, many years
Okay happiness, where are you? You’re supposed to be waiting for me at the door. Where are you?
Okay, let’s start at the beginning. My definition of Happiness:
Happiness is defined by you. Happiness can be something as simple as watching the sun rise or the sun set. Seeing children outside playing without a care in the world, or a long drive whatever soothes your soul and makes you smile is Happiness.
There you have it, my simple definition. Essentially, peace is how I define Happiness. So where was mine? Why did I feel so bad? So anxious, so crazy? In all my plans and preparations for retirement, I forgot one tiny little thing. I forgot to think about the changes retirement would bring to my life. I know, it’s such a tiny little thing right? No, it was not. I felt so out of sorts, unable to concentrate, I was miserable. What was wrong? I tried talking to folks about this but they all looked at me like, “What are you complaining about? You are retired, that’s the thing the rest of us can’t wait to get to.” I would think, they are right. All my needs are met, I don’t have a care in the world, why am I so miserable?
Why, because I was in the middle of one of the biggest changes in my life and didn’t realize that I needed to process that. Up until that point, I had not processed anything, I just stopped doing everything I had been doing since forever. Listen, I have worked most of my adult life. I got up every day, went to a job and came home, that was my life. It was even more difficult because I was living alone for the first time. Retirement brought complete, dramatic changes to my life and I was not prepared. Everything changed, from the way I spent my days to what time I went to bed at night. If I didn’t leave the house, I didn’t see anybody but the mail lady. I welcomed Jehovah’s Witnesses, they always wanted to come in and talk. I looked forward to their visit every week! Sad, I know. But, I continued to feel extremely anxious and restless, and very confused. So I started walking, I would take very long, long walks every single day. That helped a lot, but I knew something was wrong and I could not figure this thing out. I was sad and lonely all the time. I would shut my house down and go upstairs to my bedroom every day at 4:00pm. Who the heck puts on pajama’s at 4:00 in the afternoon? I did! My physical body was at home but my brain and my habits had not yet retired. I was used to going to meetings every day, having lunch with friends, just interacting with other people on a daily basis. Now, I’m at home watching television. By the way, what is happening on daytime TV? Every other commercial is about dieting, in between those are commercials about food! What is that?
Anyway, I was in a bad state, I was ready to go to my Dr and tell her I think I may be bi-polar! Seriously, I felt like I was on my way to becoming completely unstable. Something was wrong with me, it had to be some form mental illness right, after all, I had everything! But then a good friend said to me, “You are grieving. You had a major change to your life, you have lost something and you need time to process it and make some much major adjustments”. And like that, a bright light shined through the window. Ureeka! Viola! And some other amazing words of discovery! That was it! My head opened up, I could think again and I felt like a new person. I simply needed to process this new change in my life! Once I did that, I was fine. See, I thought you just retire and go on a forever vacation, I was going to be a teenager with cash and a car! Whew, glad that’s over!
So, is happiness automatic in retirement? Maybe, but you might need to do some pre-work to jump start your happy new life! You may need to do some transition preparation to become acclimated to the changes. Once you do, I guarantee you it will be all you ever wanted and more! We have waited too long for this time in our life to not enjoy every single second of it! My new definition of Happiness: Peace and Freedom!
It can be your definition too! If you need some help with this, stop on by Ashes To Gladness. Let me help you, because guess what? I understand!
Happy Retirement Everybody!