Purposeful Living

February 19, 2019

“You do what you can for as long as you can, and when you finally can’t, you do the next best thing. You back up but you don’t give up…I know too many people who have erected barriers, real brick walls, just because they have gray hair, and prematurely cut off themselves from lifelong enjoyments by thinking, ‘I’m too old to do this or that-that’s for younger people.’ Living to a ripe old age is not an end in itself; the trick is to enjoy the years remaining. And unlike flying, learning how to take pleasure from living can’t be taught. Unfortunately, many people do not consider fun an important item on their daily agenda. For me, that was always high priority in whatever I was doing…

…I’m definitely not a rocking-chair type. I can’t sit around, watch television, get fat, and fade out. And there’s so much more I want to do; I’ve never lost my curiosity about things that interest me…I haven’t yet done everything, but by the time I’m finished, I won’t have missed much. If I auger in tomorrow, it won’t be with a frown on my face. I’ve had a ball.” – Chuck Yeager

To withdraw, to go away, to retreat: These are the literal definitions of the word retire. But do they accurately describe modern retirement? Is it an accurate word today for what life looks like as we hit our mid-60s, 70s, and 80s? While these years bring many changes, for a growing number of people, this time of life is about anything but withdrawal or retreat. It’s about starting a new chapter in the story of their lives. And for many, it’s about finding a new purpose.

Here’s an example:

Too much?

How about this?

The point is, is that it’s all about you and what you want to do or accomplish.

Retirement is mostly about change but it doesn’t necessarily look much different than what precedes it. Just as a productive workday depends on how we prepare ourselves for it; productive, meaningful and purposeful living depends on what we put into it. A thriving retirement can, and should, be an amazing time of connection, engagement, expansion and widened possibilities.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”  – Eleanor Roosevelt.

According to a study published in 2014 in Psychological Science. Researchers from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, and the University of Rochester in New York, tracked the physical and mental health of more than 7,000 American adults ages 20 to 75 for 14 years, and found that those who felt they had a purpose or direction in life outlived those who did not.

Please take a couple minutes to watch this short TIME Magazine video on the positive effects of purposeful living.

time.com › Health › Mental Health/Psychology 

One of the best ways to experience purposeful living is to connect with others, and giving is one of the most meaningful ways to connect.  Of course, the principle of giving has been a pillar of virtually every religion and philosophical enterprise for millennia, but recently there has been a deluge of scientific studies validating this ancient wisdom about the power of giving to transform the giver as much as or more than the recipient. And retirement can be one of the richest opportunities to give. Our mental, emotional and spiritual resources are certainly not depleted just because we are no longer in the workforce. These resources do, however, need to be regularly replenished so they can continue to grow. And the way to make those resources grow the most is to constantly give some of them away.  To truly experience purposeful living is to realize that ‘retirement’ can be a time of expansion, engagement and adventure.  Continuous Care Retirement Communities offer residents the opportunity to experience all of these.

Another important factor in living purposefully is to find your mission.  Having a mission greater than oneself brings focus and purpose. Have you always wanted to serve others but simply couldn’t find the time?  What are you passionate about?  Which community-based organizations need help on committees and boards?  Volunteering is an amazing way to help others while replenishing the mind, body and spirit.

If you spend any time around a quality, active adult, independent living community, you would see that the farthest thing from most of the resident’s minds is retirement. What you will notice are people coming and going, socializing with friends, volunteering, laughing, talking about current events; in short, living and living with purpose.  What you won’t see are people worrying about having to replace the water heater or the roof on their home.

That’s because independent living at a Continuous Care Retirement Community (CCRC) allows you to continue living a purposeful life while removing many of the day-to-day burdens.   Yard work is taken care of. All those pesky little problems like toilets not flushing or sinks leaking are issues that require nothing more than picking up the phone and calling maintenance.  You won’t even have to pay property taxes anymore. Plus, having the knowledge that you will be taken care of in the event of an unforeseen illness or financial catastrophe, can take a huge weight off of your shoulders and allow you to live a happier and, in many cases, longer life.

So what is your purpose? What makes you want to get out of bed and get moving each morning?  Although this article focuses on our aging community, the idea of purposeful living applies to anyone at any age. For some, they work full-time and when they get home for the day, they may choose to spend time volunteering at a local dog shelter or Meals on Wheels.  Others may get fulfillment by spending time with elderly relatives or assisting a neighbor. It may feel like a necessity at the time you are doing it, but as you reflect on the day when you lay down at night, it feels good to know you gave back and took part in something you care about. Even if it’s just an hour, it’s an hour that was just for yourself doing something of your choice.  If you get lost in the shuffle of a busy day, that one hour of time for yourself can change your mood dramatically.

Learn more about independent living at Normandie Ridge in York or RiverWoods in Lewisburg

If you look online you will find countless books, articles and videos that can help you live a purposeful life.  And for our retired or soon to be retired friends, now that you know a little more about purposeful living can be, maybe you can let go of some of the stress and anxiety that comes with ending one chapter of your life and starting another.  After all, we spend most of our working lives longing for the day we can sleep in, have a second (or third) cup of coffee, hop on a motorcycle and cruise the countryside or even, jump out of a perfectly good plane.  Why not enjoy every one of the 1,440 minutes you have each day?