What makes a good retirement?


By Neil Offen

Well, having money helps, of course. Research has shown that it’s much better than not having money. Seventy-eight percent of retired people with money say they wish they had 78 percent more money.

But money isn’t everything, although it’s a big help when you’re buying stuff. To have a successful, fulfilling retirement, you can’t just lie in bed all day counting your money, no matter how attractive that is and how good a mattress you have. Sometimes you’ll have to get up and go to the bathroom.

Here then is how to really succeed at retirement:

Learn a new skill. You could take up masonry or get involved in witchcraft. You could learn to speak French or how to sneer like the French. Personally, I have recently been practicing introductory intracranial neurosurgery. It’s more interesting than masonry, more fun than speaking French, and has kept my mind extremely sharp, except when by mistake I take the anesthesia myself.

Give back to your community. Over the years, your community has given you a lot. Now’s the time to return the favor. So, get out there and clean some streets even if you do blow the leaves onto your neighbor’s lawn. Frisk some dangerous-looking individuals who are just lurking around the area. Direct traffic on the nearest four-lane highway, particularly at night when motorists don’t see as well and could use the help. When you’re the one driving, instead of pulling over when you hear an ambulance siren behind you, plow straight ahead, leading the ambulance to where it is going. They may thank you later, or have you arrested.

Continue to challenge yourself. Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you must shrink from mental or physical challenges. See if you can change your TV channels without using the remote or answer the phone when you don’t recognize the number.

Be physically active. Make sure you get enough exercise every day, even if that means opening and closing the refrigerator door hundreds of times. Don’t worry when body parts start to fall off. Some of those parts are really not that important. For instance, did you know the pinkie toe does pretty much nothing for you? 

Do something you’ve never done before. It’s probably too late to become a backup singer for Taylor Swift or write your first bildungsroman (German for 875 pages). But how about drinking red wine with fish? What about buying bonds when stocks go up? Or how about dyeing your hair purple? Or dyeing your fish purple?

Get a pet. Study after study has shown that in retirement getting a pet—a dog, a cat, a Komodo dragon—can lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol and enable you to have conversations with a sentient being in which no one will interrupt when you explain your theory of what’s wrong with baseball today and why the new pitch clock won’t fix it. Pets also provide a source of unconditional love, unless it’s a cat, which doesn’t give a crap.

Be engaged. Being engaged becomes even more important in retirement. Just don’t tell your spouse about it.

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