Monday, 1 December 2008

Happy retirement roadmap

A most valuable expanding resource is the great deal of evidence that is emerging from the world of Positive Psychology as to the elements of a ‘happy’ life. The chief proponents are offering us new insights into what sages, philosophers, gurus and grandparents have always told us, that happiness does not come from wealth or possessions, but from how we live our life. In his latest book Professor Ed Diener introduces the concept of ‘psychological wealth’. He defines happiness as ‘a subjective well-being’, an individual sense that one’s life is ‘good’. He goes on to establish that this sense of well-being, this ‘happy’ life, is not an end-state, not a destination we arrive and remain at, not a ‘place’, but rather a process of living with some key components in balance in our life. If we can live like this we are ‘psychologically wealthy’ and distinctly richer and happier than someone who is simply ‘financially wealthy’. Single component wealth does not result in a ‘happy’ life
So what are the components of ‘psychological wealth’ and the resulting happiness? Ed Diener’s extensive research suggests these are our positive attitudes towards life and the world around us, the quality of our relationships with family and friends, our health, our involvement in work that we find meaningful and aligned with our values, our spiritual development that commits us to causes that are greater than ourselves, our adequate material resources, a focus on the happiness of ‘now’ (‘smelling the roses’, seeing the positives now rather than aiming at some future happiness). Diener calls this happy state ‘having a balanced portfolio’ and he reminds us that ‘happiness takes work’.
The possibility of combining this awareness with the natural wisdom that comes with ageing gives the 50+'s a great platform for building happy, holistic, portfolio retirements.

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