by the Rev. Peter Stimpson

QUESTION: I heard that you are retiring. I am too, but all of a sudden, I’m dreading it. What am I going to do with myself? Do you have any ideas as to how I can have a happy retirement?

ANSWER: As I retire at the end of June, I have put a fair amount of time thinking about just what you asked. Here are some of my thoughts.

1. Have a Positive Attitude: Major life changes are challenging, but your attitude will play a big part in whether you will look at each day as an enjoyable challenge or a daily drudgery. After all, the accent on growing old should be “growing.”

2. Make a Plan: Do not wait until you are retired to figure out what you are going to do. Is there something you always wanted to do that work prevented you from doing?

3. Volunteer: Helping others will give you a sense of purpose by fulfilling a genuine need.

4. Exercise Your Body: Those in poor health are nearly 50 percent less likely to be happy. You do not have to be Hercules. Take a walk, join a gym, play golf or tennis, or swim.

5. Exercise Your Mind: Activities that stimulate your mind protect it from Alzheimer’s. Take a college course, learn a new language or how to play an instrument, visit historical sites or museums, or join a book club.

6. Make New Friends: OK, so you do not see your friends from work, especially if you move. So, make new friends. How? Through those activities above, and remember that old saying — you have to be a friend to make a friend.

7. Enjoy Your Spouse: Married couples are more likely than singles to be happy, and if both you and your spouse are retired, the degree of happiness goes up all the more. After all, retirement is a shared experience.

8. Have Enough Money: Of course, you have to have enough money to live, so the combination of pension, social security, and investments/savings can take away a lot of worries. If you do not have enough, consider working part-time.

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