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  • Writer's pictureMatt Oberholzer


Updated: May 8, 2023

It takes a lot of time and hard work to retire the way you want, so make it worth it! You’ve had your 401(k)s, IRA’s, and businesses working hard to make sure you can enjoy your time. We are here to help you realize that your money will be there for you, but you need to invest more than just money. You need to make sure you enjoy the well-deserved time out of the office. Here are seven happy habits studies have shown that can improve life satisfaction in retirement.

1. Work at Staying Healthy

What good is money if you cannot enjoy it? Most retirees say that good health is the most important ingredient for a happy retirement. Studies show that exercise and a healthy diet can reduce the risk of developing certain health conditions, increase energy levels, boost your immune system, and improve mood. It’s never too late to get moving and eat right. Research shows that even those who become physically active and adopt a healthy diet late in life dramatically lower the risk of cardiovascular illnesses and lower their peers' death rates.

2. Foster Strong Social Connections

Social isolation has been linked to higher rates of heart disease and stroke, increased risk of dementia, and greater incidence of depression and anxiety. Believe it or not, a low level of social interaction is just as unhealthy as smoking, obesity, alcohol abuse, or physical inactivity. One positive outcome from the COVID-19 pandemic is that we’ve all found ways to socialize, even from a distance. For those who live in a secluded area or have unreliable transportation, there are many easy-to-use tech tools to help ward off the feelings of social isolation.

3. Find a Clear Sense of Purpose

One area retirees find a sense of purpose is work. Nearly 3 in 4 Americans said they plan to work beyond the traditional retirement age, with the majority planning to do so because they “want to,” not because they “have to.” Work can be anything from volunteering to being on a board.

4. Never Stop Learning

Exercising your brain isn’t all that different from exercising your body. It requires consistent stimulation. That doesn’t just mean working on crossword puzzles every day (although one study found that people with dementia who did crossword puzzles delayed the onset of accelerated memory decline by 2.54 years). Choose something that is new and that you enjoy.

5. Train your Brain to be Optimistic

Believe it or not, optimism is a trait that anyone can develop. Studies have shown people can adopt a more optimistic mindset with very simple, low-cost exercises, starting with consciously reframing every situation in a positive light. Over time, you essentially can rewire your brain to think positively. Since negativity is contagious, it makes sense; the same goes for positivity. Try to surround yourself with optimistic people and maybe even consider a break from the news.

6. Practice Mindful Gratitude

As with optimism, gratitude also can be mastered with practice. One of the most effective ways to cultivate gratitude is by writing in a journal. Take a few minutes each day to write down a few things that you are grateful for; they can be as big as a professional accomplishment or as small as your morning cup of coffee. Psychological research suggests that putting feelings of gratitude to paper can provide both mental and physical benefits, such as greater self-esteem, better sleep, and improved heart health.

7. Pets

The companionship of a furry friend can be as beneficial as that of another human being. Finding your next best friend is as easy as visiting your local animal shelter. If you don’t want to or cannot take on the responsibility of owning a pet full time, becoming a foster parent is a good option. You can often foster a dog or cat from an animal rescue center from a few days or weeks to a month or more and ultimately help a pet in need find a forever home. Remember, breed does not matter. Small or large, slobbery or smelly, stubborn or mellow, they’re all good pets.

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