Every year, thousands of people retire, leaving the work, looking forward to a well-deserved life of leisure after decades of hard work. Envisioning their retirement as a time of endless relaxation and pleasure, many retirees soon find themselves bored and unfulfilled with their newfound life.
This is referred to as the "myth of retirement." We believe that if we work really hard, at the end of work we have rest or pleasure that's going to sustain us forever. However, as 70 million retiring baby boomers are finding, rest, relaxation, and pleasure alone do not equal happiness.
"Happiness is not something that happens. It is not the result of good fortune or random chance." Happiness, in fact, is a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated and defended privately by each person, "said author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book Flow.
In our pleasure-addicted society, we're biologically driven to seek pleasure. If we're not happy, we think we need to bring more pleasure with more stuff. However, as discussed by Csikszentmihalyi, happiness is more than just pleasure that satisfies the senses, such as food, music, or sex. Instead, it is participating in meaningful activities that provide lasting happiness.
"Contrary to what we usually believe … the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times-although such experiences can also be enjoyable. limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile, "wrote Csikszentmihalyi.
A painter involved with creating a painting; a runner, beating his personal record; a child, building a model are examples of experiences where people transcend their selves through an activity. This explained in "flow," defined by Csikszentmihalyi as "the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it. "
In the quest for happiness, people need to take part in activities that are intellectually stimulating, use their talents and skills, and have meaning. Most retirees have yet to discover their passions. Those who have formed their sense of identity through work, such as higher level executables often have a more difficult time retiring than those at the bottom of the corporate ladder because they typically spend more hours working on their careers than spending time with their families, hobbies , community involvement, and social circles. The adjustment to retirement is often more challenging for the higher level executives who believed they would find a hobby when they retired.