What’s your picture of the ideal retirement: lying on the beach every day, traveling the world, non-stop shopping, or golfing 6 days a week? Studies show that many people who pursue nothing but constant leisure and entertainment during their golden years eventually sink into depression. That’s because lasting happiness can only come from continually striving to improve our lives and the lives of other people. In the words of King Solomon, “The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep” (Ecclesiastes 5:12).
Many people who are wealthy enough to retire choose not to because they love what they do. They understand that working yields not only financial rewards, but also significant psychological, emotional, intellectual, social, physical, and spiritual benefits. Those who continue to work toward some worthy cause as long as their physical and mental faculties allow are much more likely to be truly happy throughout retirement.
What do I mean by “work?” Of course I am not suggesting that everyone needs to maintain a rigorous full-time career to reap the benefits of labor. Many kinds of work that do not pay are just as stimulating.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines work as “activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something; sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result.” The benefits of working stem from the effort required to overcome an obstacle. The more difficult the work is, the more rewarding the outcome.
After working hard for many years, there is nothing wrong with slowing down a bit to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Just be sure to continue doing something productive throughout your life, even if you don’t earn money for it, because your happiness will always depend on the extent to which you strive to make the world a better place. Retirement is the ideal time to catch up on all that community service and charitable work you always wanted to do but couldn’t when you were a slave to your career!