On Being Happy

Ask yourself: "How do I want to feel during my retirement?" How about being happy?

Robert Conyne

2021-03-17 2 min read

What do you hope for in your retirement?  More precisely, how do you hope to feel?

This question may not roam too far away from asking the same question about life itself:  "How do we most of all hope to feel as we move through our days?"

Positive Psychology, an evolving branch of the discipline, posits that the answer to this question revolves around Authentic Happiness (see  www.authentichappiness.org).  This is not just a giddy kind of feeling good, although who doesn't want a good dose of that?  Rather, authentic happiness results from a combination of positive emotion + engagement + meaning.  Relatedly, Timothy Egan, in the NY Times (3/6/21, p. A-22) highlighted Rules for Happiness suggested by the esteemed philosopher from over three centuries ago, Immanuel Kant.   According to Kant, to be happy, we need:

                                                                                                        "Something to do

                                                                                                           Someone to love

                                                                                                           Something to hope for."

Sometimes the best advice comes from across the ages. 

To link positive psychology with the vision of Kant, the following rough approximations can be drawn:

     Positive emotion ("Someone to love")

     Engagement ("Something to do")

     Meaning ("Something to hope for").

Authentic happiness comes within our reach when we possess enough money to support retirement and are able to enjoy good health and access to health care--what I would term "the essential basics" undergirding retirement.  Then, importantly, we can build on the financial-health foundation to erect happiness supports.  We develop and maintain positive relationships and love, we connect and become active with people and the world, and we derive meaning and hope from all that we do and are.

Retirement really is not about disconnecting, subsisting, or splurging.  It really is about finding a way to be genuinely happy.  

Discovering your own way toward authentic happiness is perhaps your major retirement task.