10 Best Reasons to Look Forward to Your Retirement Years
Like any life stage, senior years come with challenges. But getting older also comes with so many positive benefits, which gives aging people so many reasons to embrace their golden years. Here’s a list citing ten great reasons why individuals should look forward to aging with a more positive outlook.
Older People are Happier
Studies show that seniors are significantly happier compared to middle-aged individuals. According to a Gallup survey conducted in 2008 involving over 340,000 individuals in their 70s and 80s, seniors are significantly more satisfied with their lives and are less bothered by negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, and anger.
In a more recent research undertaken by Warwick University, Dr. Saverio Stranges asserted that although the physical quality of life deteriorates as people get older, their mental well-being improves. Dr. Stranges added that, “It could also be due to a lowering of expectations from life, with older people less likely to put pressure on themselves in the personal and professional spheres.”
You Become Friends with Your Children
It may be hard for most of us to think of our children as friends, when we have spent most of our parenthood providing for their needs and raising them to be independent adults. Some of them may even be rebellious against us, hating us during their teenage years. But, as they grow and have their own lives and fulfill their dreams, parents can look forward to taking on a different role as their children’s friends.
One of the perks of getting older is experiencing the joys of having children without the sleepless nights and diaper changes. This benefit is not solely for grandparents, though. According to Dr. Karl Pillemer, an internationally renowned gerontologist who has been studying how people develop and change throughout their lives, “research shows children need four to six involved, caring adults in their lives to fully develop emotionally and socially” and that “the grandparent/grandchild relationship is second in emotional importance only to the parent/child relationship.”
More Time to Stop and Smell the Roses
Old age also gives people more time to do the things they never had the chance to do before. Now that they are no longer too busy with work, seniors are able to travel, explore, and spend more time doing the things that they enjoy doing. Laura Carstensen, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Stanford University says, “As people get older, they’re more likely to stop and smell the roses. We think that has a lot to do with these improvements that we see in emotional health.”
You Become Tougher
A research conducted in California in 2012 reported that, despite their physical and mental challenges, seniors claim to feel better. Over 1,000 individuals aged 50 to 99 were asked to rank how well they were aging. On a scale of 1 to 10, the mean score was 8.2 and the result was even higher for those who were in their 90s.
Susan Turk Charles, a professor at the University of California, Irvine explains, “We know that older people are increasingly aware that the time they have left in life is growing shorter. They want to make the best of it so they avoid engaging in situations that will make them unhappy. They also had more time to learn and understand the intentions of others, which helps them to avoid these stressful situations.”
Opportunity to Pursue Your Dreams
A famous inspirational quote by Victorian novelist George Eliot says it best, “It’s never too late to be what you might have become.” Retirement offers an excellent opportunity for the elderly to pursue their dreams and passions which they may have put on hold to give way to their family’s needs. It is never too late to learn to paint, take dance lessons, write a novel, or take a trip around the world.
Best Time for a Second Honeymoon
In general, marital bliss increases every year after the first 25 years. According to a 2011 study, married seniors are happier and optimistic about their marriages than younger couples. Senior spouses exhibit more constructive emotions and affection compared to middle-aged couples, so arguments do not involve so much anger. This is the perfect time to celebrate your relationship and go to Paris for a much deserved honeymoon.
Happier Social Circles
Seniors not only enjoy happier marriages, they are also happier with their other social relationships. Compared to younger adults, they have a smaller circle of friends but these involve closer emotional bonds. In a 2010 study, researchers at the University of Michigan distributed “Dear Abby” letters to 200 participants and asked them what advice they would give. The results indicated that seniors possess superior social and empathetic abilities, with people in their 60s visualizing different points of view, thinking of several possible resolutions and suggesting ways to compromise.
Getting Wiser with Age
Wine is not the only thing that gets better with age. In a study where researchers compared a group of contemporary 74-year-olds with another group of the same age who took the same tests 16 years ago, results showed that today’s seniors performed better across the board. Furthermore, the average performance was closer to those 15 years younger than the participants.
Researcher Elizabeth M. Zelinski, Ph.D. cited this as an employment advantage, “These findings have very interesting implications for the future, especially in terms of employment. As a group, older people are more mentally able to keep working beyond retirement age today.”
Reaching Your Prime
Reaching the age when you get to see your children reach their ambitions, have their own families, and see your grandchildren – this is probably the best reason to look forward to your retirement years. Not everyone gets to grow old; many pass before their time or in the prime of their life. With old age comes the appreciation that we are privileged to be alive and able to live our lives in so many positive ways.