Be Happy In Retirement

We all have our own images of retirement, some positive (traveling, time to read, no schedule, art lessons, no boss, less stress, golf – not me) and some negative (less income, getting Middle Aged Coupleolder, limitations, not knowing what to do). A recent study examined the lives of 2813 retirees and compared them to 1372 same aged people who were still working. The researchers wanted to see what activities helped retirement and what hurt.

Retirees did well when they did volunteer work, provided help to others, went to sports events, and were active socially. Nothing shocking. The commonality of these ideas are that people did better when they remained active and engaged with the world. I’m sure that their physical and emotional health played a huge role in their happiness, but that wasn’t addressed in the study.

Here are a few odd facts that aren’t surprising, but are interesting…

  1. If people were depressed before they retired, they stayed depressed. Retirement did not cure depression. Message: get treatment for your depression; don’t expect circumstances to fix you.
  2. If people had heavy care-taking responsibilities, they had a hard time and some got depressed.

What helped their depression? Religion, political action, and community organization.

Source: Kristina Potocnik and Sabine Sonnentag in Journal of Occupational and Organizational psych. V. 86 # 4, dec., 2013.

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