“I’m actually scared of retiring”
About 10 or so years ago, Paul was fast approaching retirement. He was a schoolteacher in Redhill, Surrey (England). “Apart from missing the other teachers, I actually will miss the students more”, he said.
Today, he is long since retired, and his retirement could not have gone better. But …
“It took me a couple of years actually to adjust, and then re-adjust. I certainly was deflated in the first several months. The feeling of having nowhere to go, nothing to do and no-one to talk to, was a real downtime for me.”
Once I realised that today I could do what I WANTED, and tomorrow as well, and the next day, then my self-confidence rose.”
I asked Paul what he meant by “self-confidence”.
“I had been “in charge”, for many years as a schoolteacher. When I closed the classroom door, I ran the show. And I had learned as a young teacher that if I didn’t have confidence in myself, then the students would pick up on that quickly and probably take advantage.”
“So when you retired, you lost the confidence in yourself..?” I asked.
“Absolutely. I did indeed”, he said. “For a while I couldn’t figure out why I was depressed. The number of people who had said how lucky I was that I was retiring and that I could now do whatever I wanted to do, began to annoy me. I needed the company.”
“So what changed you..?”
“I woke up”, he said. “Simple as that.”
“I had enough money. My health was fine. I had nothing tangible to complain about. Yet, I was missing something,” he said. “I wasn’t HAPPY.”
“I just could not bring myself to use the word. I had the feeling that if I did say I was happy, then some terrible event would hit me. Superstition perhaps. Yet, it was a real feeling deep inside of me. But then I slowly began to “rebuild my life”.
“Did you feel that you were being silly about it…?” I asked.
“A little bit maybe,” he said, “but it soon became clear that if I didn’t take charge of my life, then no-one was going to do it for me.”
“I decided to do everyday things that made me happy.
Simultaneously, I decided not to do everyday things that made me unhappy.
“That was really a very naïve and simple way to look at things. I kept saying to myself that surely retirement life couldn’t be that straightforward. But it was that easy. As I made the changes in my life, my “Happiness Level”, slowly climbed.”
Paul is no visionary. He is no guru about life in retirement. He’s not a philosopher.
But this simple explanation of change has made an enormous difference to him. He now approaches each day as a challenge. Some days he may do nothing. But he sees that day as a day when HE decided to do nothing and he accomplished his goal. Tomorrow will be another day.
So, the decision to change is an uncomplicated choice that you have within your own control.
Ask yourself this question:-
“Do I CHOOSE to be Happy, or do I CHOOSE to be UnHappy…?”
Next week we’ll begin to explore some of the positive ways you can change your life and find deep, sustainable HAPPINESS in a variety of everyday things in your life right now.
We hope you will join us.
“May you have Happiness all your Life”.
The Olderhood Team.