Surprisingly, the coronavirus pandemic was a strong impetus for some people to retire early. This trend results from a pendulum that swings from record-breaking stock values to a radical shift in mindset to focus on personal happiness. For those 2.5 million Americans who retired in the past 15 months and for individuals who are simply contemplating retiring soon, here are the top 10 considerations for living a wealthy life where health and happiness are the new currency.
Acknowledge What’s Important
If we learned anything over the past year and a half, life is precious, and every day is a gift. This heightened perspective on what we deem essential to our overall happiness is a common factor among retirees. Mindfulness that keeps individuals focused on maximizing the present is a strong foundation when it comes to retiring.
Learn To Relax
We live in a society dictated by technology moving at warp speeds. Now is the time to slow down and even go completely off the grid. Ease into your new life by taking things one day at a time. Little steps like not setting the alarm clock, taking that long-overdue road trip, or flipping the pages of an actual book are reasonable ways to rewire your brain and slow your pace.
Embrace Your Friends and Family
While it may seem cliché, money does not buy happiness. The true secret to wealth is in your heart, not in your wallet. So, hug yourself and all of those you love as the time you spend together is what matters the most. Walking and talking are far better than Facetime. Family dinners or even babysitting the grandchildren is now a gift and not a chore. For those who struggled to maintain relationships because of deadlines and duties, retiring is a time to rekindle friendships and perhaps start fresh with a family member you always wanted to know better. All of these things cost nothing other than quality time.
Take That Trip
Remember the song “This Land is Your Land?” Bring those lyrics to life! No need to break the bank, but perhaps the drive from California to the New York Island is a great way to explore this beautiful country while learning more about yourself. If cross-country driving is not your thing, then perhaps day-tripping is more your speed. The journey needs not to be an expense but rather an opportunity to see what truly makes you happy. Take the time to make these explorations without a destination or deadline.
Find Your Faith
Music shares a lot of truths, as we explored above, so let’s look at the lyrics of the late George Michael, “you got to have faith, faith, faith!” Faith is not necessarily a religion but rather a belief in a power greater than yourself. It is here that many retirees find their true happiness. But where to begin? How about reading the works of our greatest philosophers? Or stand in awe at Mother Nature’s tears of joy versus running from the rain. Whatever your path, faith is fulfilling.
Give Your Time, Not Your Money
Volunteer! Yes, now you have the time to give, so try spending it on an effort that benefits others. Participate in a charity or donate your time to a community event. The act of giving is perhaps the truest testament of humanity and an excellent way to fill your soul without touching your savings.
Get up and get out! Ongoing studies show that a sedentary life leads to poor health. To truly enjoy your retirement, you must be healthy. This fact gets back to the essence of this article – wealth, health, and happiness. You don’t need to run a marathon but if that’s your goal, then get it! Or start with a walk and work your way up that proverbial or physical mountain you wish to overcome. Health comes in many ways but getting physical is a great place to start.
Find Your Happy Place
We all know this phrase, but have we lived it? Now you can. And take your time. As the saying goes, “try and try again.” Finding your happy place may not be located at the water’s edge or atop the mountain you imagined as your place of nirvana. Explore. Have you ever gone fly fishing or learned how to fly a plane? Well, fly now as the only way to find your happiness is to look in as many places as possible.
Stress Less, Smile More
Stressing less is an important life lesson. The only thing we can control is the way we think. This philosophy brings great peace. By stressing less and smiling more, we become exceptionally infectious, in the best of ways. So carpe diem as today is always a good day to have a good day.
Splurge on Yourself
That’s right, spend your money! You worked hard for it, and you cannot take it with you, so enjoy the fruits of your labor. Retiring does not mean living in financial fear. If you are reading this article, you likely have invested your finances wisely so you can retire comfortably. So do just that, spend responsibly and enjoy your newly found freedoms.
Retiring is a lifelong goal – which is why lifelong investments are so critical. Rushing into your retirement can be a costly mistake, not only for your wallet but for your happiness as well. Take the time to understand the most important question when planning your retirement, and make decisions for your future that will work to make you happier. Spend your retirement years living your dreams with wealth, health, and true happiness.
This post first appeared on Forbes.