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|Title: Thrive in Retirement: Simple Secrets for Being Happy for the Rest of Your Life|
By: Eric Thurman
Number of Pages: 192
Vendor: WaterBrook Press
Publication Date: 2019
|Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)|
Weight: 9 ounces
Stock No: WW291829
1. What in your life caused you to explore what it means to thrive following retirement?
When I turned 65, all was going smoothly. My wife and I had been together for over 40 years. I was leading a program for troubled children that I found enormously meaningful, and the organization had asked for my 10-year plan. I imagined that I could delay thinking about retirement for years.
Little did I know that a year later, my wife would die from cancer and my career would come to an abrupt end. I realized soon after that I had a choice: either give up on life or find a whole new way of living.
2. What are you seeing among other retirees that made you feel there was a need for this advice?
I meet too many older adults who are seriously dissatisfied. They have bought into the popular myth that retirement should be just one long, endless vacation. However, rather than being entertained and satisfied, they find themselves disappointed, directionless, bored, and often lonely.
3. Is retirement all about financial planning and 401Ks? Where do you think we get it wrong?
Finances certainly matter. However, we all know of famously wealthy people who are severely unhappy. After all, there’s more to life than money. Finances are only one of the five key areas of life. All five parts of life need to be strong and healthy for a person to be truly happy.
4. What do you think are the key components to living with vitality at any age?
What everyone needs to be fully happy is to be robust in each of the three P’s: Purpose, Pleasure, and Peace.
These principles of happiness are, indeed, the same at all ages. What changes as you grow older is how you apply those principles. A young man may find basketball with friends a great source of recreation. Decades later, his idea for outdoor recreation with friends may shift to fishing. The principle of recreation being good for you remains the same. The way you act it out changes depending on your stage of life.
5. You teach that purpose plays an important role in this phase of life. What have you discovered about your purpose? How has it changed you?
Purpose, pleasure, and peace are the building blocks of happiness. Purpose is far and away the strongest of the three. In the last few weeks before she died, my wife and I recognized how it was one of the best times we’d had together. We were at peace, though it was hardly a peaceful situation. We felt the pleasure of belonging to each other and trying to make the most of our last days together. What made the difficult time good was that my wife, our adult children, and I all knew that pulling toward each other and caring for her was the most important thing we could do. It filled those final days with purpose and sits as a good memory even as we grieve losing her.
6. What is your motto for success and why is it meaningful to you?
I have a short phrase that I say to myself often: I want to be ready to die tomorrow, yet also able to thrive if I live to age 100.
Ready to die tomorrow means that I am not leaving a mess of my personal affairs for my loved ones to sort out after I die. It also means that I am trying to mend or settle broken relationships rather than leaving them to fester.
The chances of living to age 100 are actually quite good. In fact, centenarians are the fastest-growing population group. Realizing that I could have decades still ahead of me motivates me to learn new ways to be happy and have meaning in my life.
There’s a profound Psalm that speaks exactly to this point: “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12 ESV)
One way that I pursue God’s wisdom for my life is to think about the number of my days. That allows me to be ready to die tomorrow, and at the same time prepared to live well and abundantly until age 100 if God permits me that many years.
7. What role does your faith play in thriving at this stage of your life?
What shapes my thinking about aging and other subjects is that I am a Christ-follower and a student of the Bible. Here’s an example of a passage that I only recently realized speaks to aging: “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)
Is there anything in that verse that even hints that there could be a time limit on God’s design of what he “prepared in advance for me to do”? We shouldn’t buy into the popular notion that when you retire, you stop work and other responsibilities in favor of relaxing and playing all the time. Our lives do not have a “best by” date. God has not said that his plans are only usable if they are accomplished by the age of 65.
One of the best parts of being a servant of Jesus is that he continues to have meaningful ways to use me. I’m staying engaged with God’s work and loving it.
Christians more than anyone need to be suspicious of the popular notion that retirement is meant to be self-centered, payback time. That kind of living doesn’t satisfy for long. It certainly isn’t wise. Listen to what the Bible says: “A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time.” (Ecclesiastes 7:4 NLT)
8. What does research tell us about the benefits of belonging to a faith community?
Major universities, including MIT and Harvard, are conducting studies that show significant benefits that derive from certain faith practices.
While collecting data for Thrive in Retirement, I interviewed Dr. Tyler J. VanderWeele at Harvard. He combs through what may be the most extensive collection of data so far on aging. What he found was that when someone not only has personal faith, but also participates in church at least once a week, there are significant, measurable effects.
People with active faith, for instance, who also have common health struggles like heart disease or breast cancer, show a 25% higher survival rate after a few years. Other notable benefits among believers who participate regularly in church include less depression, lower suicide rates, less divorce, increased ability to have friends, and a greater sense of meaning and satisfaction in life. In summary, Harvard’s statistics show that people of faith have a reduced risk of dying over a fifteen-year period.
9. Why is retirement a difficult transition for many people?
Most people underestimate how big the changes will be during their retirement years. With the expectation that you will live 20 to 30 years after you stop working, know that you will experience many changes during that time. Think back to a similar length of time earlier in your life. Take the 20 years you lived between ages 30 and 50 for instance. Were there many changes during that span? In the same way, expect a host of new experiences during your next 20 or 30 years.
10. Is there a right or wrong way to retire?
There are many ways you can improve your retirement years and also plenty of wrong turns you can take. Here’s an example of a wrong turn that may surprise you: taking early retirement can be deadly!
In a 30-year study of all Shell Oil Company employees who worked there between 1973 and 2003, it was discovered that people who retired at age 55 were 89% more likely to die within a decade than those who retired at 65.
Thrive in Retirement cites dozens of additional studies about what affects both longevity and quality of life.
11. Is there something that makes retirement a bigger issue today than in the past?
In the 1800s, most people died in their 40s. Thus, we are living decades longer than our ancestors. How to spend one’s later years wasn’t much of a question two or three generations ago, because people didn’t live long and those who did often weren’t in good health. These days, longevity is much higher and our extra years are generally healthy and active. The challenge is to use your extra years well and enjoy them.
12. How can you tell that current habits around retirement aren’t working?
Multiple indicators show that a large percentage of older adults are finding retirement not to be the panacea of a carefree life they dreamed of having.
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