Some folks transition seamlessly into a happy retirement and get right to the business of enjoying their new lives. But other people have a tougher time entering the retirement years. Some of these folks may wonder whether they are really cut out for retirement at all. Here are some traits happy retirees share.
A social network. A Greenwich study found that having friends was far more important to retirement bliss than having kids. Those who have strong social networks are 30 percent happier with their lives than those without a strong network of friends. Having kids or grandkids had no impact on a retiree’s level of contentment.
They are not addicted to television. After you retire you will have lots of time to fill. If you want to be happy in retirement, don’t fill that time with endless hours of television. Heavy TV viewers report lower satisfaction with their lives, according to a 2005 study published by the Institute for Empirical Research in Economics in Zurich. The same results were found again in 2008 by researchers at the University of Maryland. In that study, a direct negative correlation was found between the amount of TV watching and happiness levels: unhappy people watched more TV and happy people watched less.
Intellectual curiosity. Adults over 70 who choose brain-stimulating hobbies over TV watching are two and a half times less likely to suffer the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, according to Richard Stim and Ralph Warner’s book Retire Happy: What You Can Do Now to Guarantee a Great Retirement. Not only will shunning TV make you happier, it will make you healthier. Good health will in turn make you happier — a not-so-vicious cycle.
They aren’t addicted to achievement. The more you are defined by your job, the harder it will be to adjust to life without it. According to Robert Delamontagne’s book The Retiring Mind: How to Make the Psychological Transition to Retirement, achievement addicts have the most difficulty transitioning to retirement.
Enough money. Of course you’ll need enough money to support your chosen lifestyle in retirement. But beyond that, more money will not make you happier. The Watson Wyatt survey found that the absolute amount of money you have for retirement is less important than how your retirement income compares to your income before retirement. If you have enough to continue your pre-retirement lifestyle, you have enough.