"Some people think that retirement will be uninterrupted bliss with loads of free time to do whatever you want. Finally, you don’t have to do what bosses, customers or clients want you to. Retirement has this potential, but, unfortunately, many retirees experience seemingly insurmountable challenges and terrible disappointment fraught with loneliness, boredom and sadness.
They find themselves downright miserable, even depressed. Retirement, like divorce, job changes and major moves, is a life changing event that many find extremely stressful. Not having to go to the office, shop or business anymore requires major adjustment and can engender feelings of uselessness and a lack of purpose.
Help for retirees experiencing these challenges is available, and it’s free. There is a new service established by psychology graduates of Princeton University. They make providers with retirement experience and expertise available by telephone to be compassionate listeners who can quickly restore perspective and significantly boost a retiree’s happiness and health.
This is not psychotherapy. It is human interaction with an unpaid peer who enjoys helping people and who is really good at it. The purpose of the telephone conversations, which can be five minutes or an hour, is to provide a compassionate listener, one who can impart the strength and confidence required to help you meet the challenges that retirement presents, turn the corner and experience the real happiness that is within your grasp."
For several years I was a lay minister in the Stephen Ministry program. A large part of that work involved compassionate, reflective listening with folks who were struggling with some serious life problems. My work in prison ministry also was based on careful listening and caring. I know the positive power of one person really listening to another.
What I find enticing is the program's reliance on the proven power of listening. Also, my new work with United Way to foster volunteer opportunities for retirees seems to dovetail nicely with this project. I can see both feeding into each other.
Very early in the development, some phone calls have already been completed. From the project's web site, here are a few testimonials:
"(I had a) very good call which helped me begin to realize something I have been doing, and how I might rectify it. I felt much better after the call. Wonderful person! It was uplifting to see that I could speak with someone I did not know and who was not a therapist but was able to help me get out of down mood. The call also helped me to realize what I can do to lessen some of the negative feelings I get from not doing important things by just doing them so that they do not accumulate into further negative 'piles'."Participant (January, 2016)"This has been literally the best positive thing I have experienced in a while! Whoever thought of this project would become my personal hero! Thank you for the patience, it was a 50 minute call, where I rumbled and rumbled, but what I got from it... It's just indescribable. I am feeling a lot more motivated and sure in myself, I can't stop smiling and I feel generally A LOT better. Seriously, just thank you. You have empowered me to dig deeper and to believe more in myself. As I appreciated hearing these nice things from someone who doesn't know me, I hope this will matter to you: you really made a difference. You gave me a lot to think about and to be proud of, so with tears in my eyes - thank you...Thank you again, it has been a wonderful experience and really inspiring too!"Participant (January, 2016)
The program wants to take that power of listening and sharing to make someone's life a little brighter and more hopeful. One of the organizers and I have had several conversations about this exciting project and how I might become involved.
One thing I can do is to publish this post and ask for your feedback on the idea. Serious research indicates this peer-to-peer approach is on solid ground, but how will it translate into real world situations? So, I am asking you to leave a comment about the idea of a free telephone service to connect a willing listener with a retire who is struggling. Do you think the concept makes sense? Do you believe folks will call and talk with someone they don't know but who promises to be a good listener and springboard?
Your feedback will become an important part of this effort. Those behind the program are in the design and structure phase, so your thoughts will be vital in helping them fine tune things. As they move forward with attempts to find sources of funding and the best way to connect folks, Satisfying Journey could become an important source of publicity and feedback.
If you'd like to take a look at the projects web site, click on this link:
I am quite interested in your thoughts.