While traveling recently, I was introduced to someone from Brazil. When I told him I was a Life Coach with a specialty in Retirement, he was intrigued. The conversation went something like this:
He: Interesting. I recently watched a documentary about retirement in the U.S. If you don’t mind, I have a question.
Me: Sure, go ahead and ask.
He: Well, one thing really surprised me. Is it true when a person retires in the U.S., they are assigned a LEGAL GUARDIAN?
A Legal Guardian at Retirement? No!
Needless to say, I was surprised. Perhaps the film dealt with financial planning or offered other suggestions for protecting one’s assets during retirement. Somehow, he had come away with a very strange conclusion.
Note: Many people in the U.S. take legal steps to assign Power of Attorney to a family member or trusted friend as part of their Estate Planning. This gives that person the legal authority to care for the personal and property interests of someone who has become physically or mentally impaired.
A legal guardian is similar in nature, but the guardian is assigned through an extensive court proceeding rather than through the wishes of the individual. Obviously, neither is an automatic factor of retirement.
Guard Against the Dark Side
What I did not share with him - and what I really don’t like to linger on here because our focus in these pages is the power of positivity – is the fact that after retiring some people do experience the dark side of retirement. Simply put, the dark side of retirement has to do with feeling lost, useless, depressed, and simply without validation. Sitting in the house all day with little to do is very boring and lonely; the spiraling down can even lead to exploring the liquor cabinet.
For some, the lack of purpose that comes with retirement is very hard and finding the positive can be difficult and they can no longer handle their own affairs. If you or anyone you know is experiencing depression or having trouble shifting a negative mindset, I encourage reaching out to a good therapist or consulting with your primary care physician. There is help!
Focus on the Bright Side
Happily, what most people can look forward to is the bright side of retirement!
And, indeed, there is a bright side – time to do the things you really enjoy, opportunities for creative and exciting adventures, satisfaction of embracing the new and nurturing the tried and true. It involves PLANNING, and there are a few simple things you can do now to make YOUR future look bright.
Step One: PHYSICAL
Start now to build an exercise routine. This does not require a gym membership or a Lulu Lemon outfit. If you are new at it, start with 10 minutes and watch yourself build up to 30.
Step Two: MENTAL
Set your mind to being more positive every day. Make things happen. What are you are really good at and enjoy doing? Spend a little time starting up again. (Photography? Learning a language? Volunteer?)
Step Three: SOCIAL
Make sure your friends and social connections are not all associated with your work. You’ll have new friends thanks to step two! And…, get rid of negativity. If relationships are hard to break, try to interact less often.
Step Four: SPIRITUAL
This is not an edict for religion. Instead find time to bring significance to your daily routine. How can you contribute? How can you feel satisfied? Oh yes, and perform a random act of kindness every day.
That’s it. I’ve tried to make it short and sweet. Whether you are following these suggestions yourself or if you are a Power of Attorney or a Legal Guardian trying to help the person in your care, working through these four steps is bound to lead to positive and impactful benefits in the years ahead.
I have been feeling great joy in offering this campaign again to all of us. Now that spring has finally arrived and we are allowing ourselves more freedom to mix and mingle again, I believe that having a positive attitude is one of the most important steps to finding peace and fulfillment.
When I remind myself of these five steps to making happy a habit, I gain personal strength and the resilience to deal with ‘stuff’ that life sends my way. That half-full glass allows me to be more creative and to realize that if I’m blocked in one direction, there are many ways to reach my personal goals. For example, this is a blog I wrote when in lockdown from Covid.
I believe that having a positive attitude is one of the most important steps to finding peace and fulfillment.
Now is a good time to take a few minutes to look over those journal entries and notice what you wrote for the ‘best thing that happened in the last 24 hours.’ Those are events that I hope you can make happen again. In fact, next time you may even put them on the ‘grateful’ list.
I’m pretty sure that exercise has become part of your daily routine, and I’ll even bet that your thoughts offered a brief ‘thank you’ after you took the 5-7 minutes a day to give them a rest. And that daily random act of kindness? It probably has become more of a reflex than something you have to think about.
I hope you have made happy a habit. Please share with me any stories about the challenge that you have, and please remember the words of Wayne Dyer: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
Here is a little quiz to remind you of our time together. Try it - I’ll bet you’ll know the answers!
(HINT) the answers are in the 5 steps to MAKE HAPPY A HABIT.
Wishing you happily ever after,
2020 was undeniably hard. Like, really really unimaginably difficult and sad and trying for so many people. A lot of folks have just been hanging on and getting through. Practicing happy habits has understandably not been at the top or even the middle of the priority list. But finally there is a little light at the end of the tunnel. Self-care can start to be something that you prioritize in 2021. And now, more than ever, self-care and finding your way to happiness is important for your health and well-being and for those around you.
There is real science behind the emotions of happiness and love. Dr. Barbara Frederickson, Psychologist and Neuroscience Professor at UNC, Chapel Hill said, “The ways that we feel happiness and well-being are actually showing up in the cells of our immune system and supporting our health.”
I did a 30-day Make Happy a Habit challenge back in 2016 and now I'm ready for a refresher 2021-style!
I'll be starting my 2021 challenge on March 1. Follow along with my progress and hopefully you'll find some inspiration from my journey for your own. I'd love for you to join me ... Share your progress … Post some pictures of what you are grateful for and what makes you happy. I want to know how your random acts of kindness and writing about your positive experiences made you feel. Tell me about your time in meditation. And be sure to tell me when you start feeling like HAPPY is becoming a habit.
I'll be posting all month long at:
Hope you join me!
"Most folks are about as happy
There is real science behind the emotions of happiness and love. Dr. Barbara Frederickson, Psychologist and Neuroscience Professor at UNC, Chapel Hill said, “The ways that we feel happiness and well-being are actually showing up in the cells of our immune system and supporting our health.” What a great testimonial! Why wouldn’t we want to Make Happy a Habit?
You don’t have to wear a smiley-face hat or tell funny jokes. Simply doing the following five activities daily can rewire your brain towards happiness. (I include my order to just give you some idea of fitting it into your day. You can organize it however it is convenient for you).
I like to do this – out loud – in the morning when I get up. I encourage those around me to join in. It’s a good family tradition.
2. WRITE ABOUT A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE FROM THE PAST 24 HOURS
I do this in the evening. I keep a notebook on my nightstand. This simple activity has the amazing power of changing your entire mindset. You will comb through the day, tossing aside the negative and focusing on the positive. Guaranteed to make you smile.
3. EXERCISE (AT LEAST 20 MIN)
I am a morning person, so I make time before breakfast to get in my exercise. Whether it is a brisk walk, time at the gym or climbing stairs, give yourself 20 minutes and increase your activity. I’m including four short videos of easy five-minute exercises on my website. Do all four in a day and you’ll have your 20 minutes!
4. MEDITATE (5-7 MIN)
I find that meditating mid-afternoon works for me. No need to think mantras or posing cross-legged on the carpet. The simplest meditation can be sitting quietly listening to soothing music (no words) – and focusing on either the music, your breathing or a body scan from head-to-toe. If you want some guidance, I like the free app HEADSPACE, which you can use with your earphones while sitting at your desk. Meditation calms and centers, helping you focus and better handle whatever comes your way.
5. PERFORM ONE RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS
All day every day is a good time for a random act of kindness. Performing a selfless act that helps, compliments or encourages someone has an amazing effect on all involved. You’ll enjoy every minute. To help get you started, I’ll post a list of suggestions on my website.
Encourage everyone around you to get involved
Post some pictures of what you are grateful for and what makes you happy. I want to know how your random acts of kindness and writing about your positive experiences made you feel. Tell me about your time in meditation. And be sure to tell me when you start feeling like HAPPY is becoming a habit.
Good luck! And get your camera ready – you’ll be finding yourself smiling a lot more.
SHARE YOUR PROGRESS BY:
- Instagram – FOLLOW @MAKEHAPPYAHABIT for inspiration and share your own pictures of what makes you happy
- Facebook – LIKE /MAKEHAPPYAHABIT and post an update about how the challenge is changing your outlook
- Twitter – FOLLOW @ACCOMPLISHCOACH and tweet your own progress
- Pinterest – FOLLOW /ACCOMPLISHCOACH and start a Happiness board
Don’t forget to include #makehappyahabit in your posts
If you’ve been hesitating to start your 30 days, let me remind you that as a parent, you are a role model. Whenever you are with your kids, they are watching and often copying everything you do.
So… set an example, and start practicing every day to Make Happy A Habit. You’ll really enjoy it when you find yourself surrounded by people who are more positive, more optimistic and a lot more resilient.
Do this in the morning when everyone wakes up, over breakfast, or when you take the kids to school. It puts all involved in a good mindset to face the day.
WRITE DOWN ONE GOOD THING THAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE LAST 24 HOURS
This is especially good to do before going to sleep. It helps to have them think positive thoughts as they say good night.
It is important to WRITE down the thoughts. Have the younger kids tell you about it so you can help them write simple words and even draw a picture. For the older ones, they can write just one sentence or and entire paragraph.
You can best plan how this fits into your family’s day. Many kids will have a time on the playground or during PE at school. If at home, whoever is in charge should make exercise happen. If it’s raining, dance or do cheers in the family room.
For you parents who are ‘too busy’ at work, you can divide it up into two 10-minute sessions. Walk up and down the stairs or jog around the parking lot at lunchtime. Be sure to tell the kids when you get home.
MEDITATE AT LEAST 5 MINUTES A DAY
Here is your ticket to relaxation and focus. Turn off your electronics, and turn on some wordless music. Focus on your breathing or the music. Or simply do a body scan.
For very young kids you can merely sit in silence. Many experts recommend one minute of silence per year of age (up to 8) for kids. Just make time for quiet time.
PERFORM A RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS
Simply be kind. Encourage the kids to help a neighbor, hold a door for someone, or even share their cookies. This kindness is especially satisfying because being considerate towards others inspires them to be kind to someone else.
See – not too hard! Get your family involved, be a role model, and Make Happy a Habit!
Loretta Saff, M.A., CPC, CPRC
As an active writer, both nationally and internationally, Loretta Saff's humor columns, blog, and lifestyle articles reflect an insight in dealing with situations that helps people get to their core issues and encourage confidence, trust and support.
Make Happy A Habit
Resources For A Modern Retirement