Being happy is an important part of living a satisfying retirement. Life is too short to be spent grumpy and out-of-sorts. If you have figured out what brightens your days and makes you smile you have taken important steps toward an enriching retirement lifestyle.
The fascinating thing about this subject is the list of happiness-producers is always unique to you. If you try to copy someone else's path to joy you will be disappointed. These triggers must be figured out by you. It is also quite true that things that make you the happiest aren't usually big things. Sure, winning a lottery will probably put a smile on your face (until you see the tax bill). Getting a major promotion at work or the birth of a grandchild is usually considered a good thing.
But, what about the small stuff that can brighten any day? What are the little things that, when they happen, make you feel pleasure and contentment? Are you missing moments of happiness because you are thinking too big? Shrink your focus. Discover some happiness triggers that you can make happen whenever you choose. From my life here a few examples to get you started:
Hot cocoa and a fire. Since I live in a place that is hot a good part of the year, when things turn cold my wife and I get excited by the simple pleasure of a log crackling away in the fireplace and a cup of hot cocoa while we snuggle on the sofa to watch a favorite movie or read quietly side-by-side. We are happy and content when the wind blows cold air from the North and the whipped cream in the cocoa sticks to our lips.
Sunshine on the patio. For almost 330 days a year, Phoenix enjoys sunny days. You might think the simple joy of sitting on the back patio in the sunshine would have worn thin by now. Not by a long shot. I can spend a fabulous few hours just watching the birds at the feeder, listening to the two fountains in the yard, and watching the shadows move across the floor. Cloudy days make me sad. I live where I do because sunshine makes me happy.
A giggling child. My grandkids have the greatest laugh. It is physically impossible to listen to one or both start to giggle and not smile and laugh right along with them. Their obvious joy is instantly transferred to me.
A puppy. Is there a puppy alive that can't charm a smile out of even the grumpiest old man? Is there any way to not be happy around something that so blindly loves you and wants your love and attention? Yes, there is extra responsibility and those occasional messes to clean up. But, overall, aren't puppies happy-producers?
A mystery book you can't put down. Reading is one of the great pleasures in life. A well-written novel can take you anywhere whenever you want a getaway. I love mysteries for their ability to weave a complex set of clues through a few hundred pages, finally tying it all together at the end. I rarely figure it out early, but the challenge is there.
Fixing a problem with a computer. Though not an expert by any means, I do enjoy helping friends when something has gone wrong with their computer. After performing the necessary cleanup of software conflicts or deleting unneeded programs, I love seeing the smile of their faces when everything works the way it should. It takes very little of my time, but makes someone else's life just a bit easier and it makes me happy to help.
A thoughtful comment on this blog. Someone taking the time to leave a comment makes me happy. It shows I have written something that caused another person to take a few minutes to read and react. Seeing there is a new comment on one of these posts makes me smile.
I could have added bigger things to my list like a paid-off mortgage or tickets to Maui. Certainly a clean physical exam makes me happy. Those happy triggers are obvious. The point here is to focus on the small stuff, the everyday parts of your life. If you can put just a few of your own happy points in your day, your life will feel blessed, content and delighted. And, that is a satisfying retirement.
OK, your turn. What small stuff makes you happy? What have I not mentioned that I may be able to make part of my day? Please share.
How do you measure success?
Go fly a kite