Happiness in Retirement — Quick Fixes for Staying Happy

On most days I am a happy person.  But sometimes joints hurt, morning coffee tastes a bit off,  the sky outside is cloudy, and there are pesky tasks to complete.

It’s easy to sink into a dismal mood.

The promised land of retirement happiness feels elusive.

On such days it’s worthwhile to do a quick re-set unless you want to lose precious time.

It feels wrong to let a whole day pass while in the doldrums especially as I’m already racing toward the ‘best before’ date. Losing a day in a funk is a waste.

Quick Fixes that work

Make a conscious choice to be happy regardless of circumstances.  Most situations have a bright side so I try to find the silver lining.  Realistic expectations help but there are hidden possibilities in most situations.

One of my cottage neighbours suddenly lost his wife this summer.  She died of a stroke.  As I watched him walk on the beach I knew something was wrong just by seeing how his gait had changed.  Each step took effort. He stooped as he walked. Last week I spoke with him as he rested on a beach bench. He told me how much his life had changed after his wife’s death.  He also told me that he learned that the solace of nature helped him keep his perspective on most days. In moments of his deepest grief he found comfort from the lake.

In his situation, ‘happiness’ may not be an appropriate expectation, but his inner energy is more balanced and more positive when near the water. He found a silver lining.

Decide to ‘live for today’.  The past is the past — it’s over so there’s no point dwelling on what happened yesterday or years ago.

I’ve made mistakes but I can get rid of the old grudges and stop longing for what I can’t change — and so can you.

As well as letting go of the past, it’s best not to focus on the future. If you’re not happy today, you won’t be happier when you lose weight, or receive an inheritance or take a trip.  Thinking of what could happen in the future — to us or to loved ones — is understandable but largely uncontrollable.

As I grow older, I wonder about how I might cope with potential loss of health or how I might cope if something were to befall my husband’s health.  My logical mind tells me this as futile as thinking about the future behaviour of the stock market — so I give myself a shake and focus on the good things of today.  It is my privilege to live in a safe country where most people obey the laws and where I enjoy countless freedoms.

The present is all we have. Reminding myself to enjoy today and live it fully — on my terms is one of the best of my ‘quick fixes’.

A friendly disposition helps with doldrums. I wear a smile — even a fake smile — as a sign of happiness.

Think of the Dalai Lama and his constant smile — his countenance is my inspiration for a friendly open disposition.

You never know, you might fool yourself with a smile!

Set worries aside.  Most worries are rooted in things we can’t control.  Decide whether you are worrying about an ‘uncontrollable’ or a ‘controllable’.

Make an action plan for the controllable worries and set the others aside. And don’t get mired in guilt or self-judgement about  missed opportunities. Worrying will neither prevent nor control terrible things from happening.

Stay involved with activities of significance. Many daily activities are mundane but activities that renew and refresh give a new perspective.  Happy people are passionate about service to others, volunteering in their communities,

Reach out to others. When we reach out and help someone or give a kind word as we listen to another’s concern, the by-product is an increase in our own happiness.

Finally, practise gratitude.  Often I do a quick fix in the morning by listing blessings taken for granted in the past hour — hot water for a morning shower, the welcoming purr of a cat, the fresh morning paper at the door, warm slippers, my husband’s smile — it’s easy to forget small blessings that help make a happy day.

A sense of long-term well-being comes from a journey of discovery of who we really are.  Practicing quick fixes to stay happy pays off with a positive mindset that changes the approach to each day and increases retirement happiness.


We can flourish and achieve a deeper level of happiness by understanding our inner energy.  Positive energy can come from within when we open our hearts. Joy falls into my heart when I open it to others and to the world.

We have a short life.  Days pass quickly.  Let’s not waste precious time in the doldrums.

6 Replies to “Happiness in Retirement — Quick Fixes for Staying Happy”

  1. I loved your phrase, “racing toward the best before date”. I agree that losing a day now seems SIGNIFICANT in its impact!
    Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. I’ve just celebrated another birthday — my 68th! The years are flying past and there is so much to accomplish before that ‘best before date’ hits. Working to achieve happiness every day is one way to be sure not to fritter away the precious time we have earned in retirement.
      Be well,

  2. This is a beautiful post Jeanette – insightful and real. Your tips should be required reading for anyone contemplating the leap into a life of “post work.” As a fellow Torontonian, you sound like someone I would have enjoyed knowing. Cheers!

    1. Hello Pat,
      I’m glad to know that you liked the post. I often worry that so much focus of retirement planning is geared toward getting finances in order. So often, people don’t receive much guidance on how to achieve happiness once their finances in hand. I see that you are also a blogger — perhaps we will meet at a blogging event!
      Be well,

  3. This is a nice post. I think that, just for today, I won’t worry about the uncontrollable things in my future.

    1. Hello Linda, Sometimes those ‘uncontrollables’ get the best of us! I’ve found that identifying what is uncontrollable and what I can control is a good start when worries start to overtake my thinking. Our son played a lot of soccer and the advice from one of his coaches keeps coming back to me. The coach used to tell players ‘you can’t control the ref; you can’t control the field conditions; and you can’t control the weather — so get on with the play’. His advice rings true for all of us!
      Be well,

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