A lot of people ask me how I spend my days, and I struggle to answer. When I say I wake up late, spend time outdoors, surf the web, and spend time with friends, they think I’m being deliberately vague. I’ve decided to just mark up a calendar so they can see how I spend my time.
Can you think of a better way to describe the week?
The thing I’ve learned in retirement is that many of the greatest joys in life come from extremely common experiences. It’s why they are common.
I was on a safari a few years ago and we saw a group of cheetah sitting in the grass enjoying the sunset. And I thought to myself that the happiest fucking cheetah in the Serengeti probably didn’t live a vastly different life than a normal cheetah. It wants to eat, and hang out with its Cheetah buddies (though only a bit because they are typically solitary creatures), and sleep, and not move when it’s hot out. The cheetah doesn’t want to trek across the globe to the icy climes of Iceland to “see something new”. The cheetah doesn’t need constant shots of adrenaline by jumping out of planes and diving in the ocean to “really live life.” The cheetah can live a perfectly happy life with the things it has in the Serengeti.
That doesn’t mean as a human I don’t enjoy occasional travel. But it’s not necessary for a fulfilling and happy life for me. And working 40 hours a week on a full-time “project” isn’t necessary for a fulfilling and happy life.
On the other hand, friends and family time, relaxation, play, and engagement with some sort of project where I can feel like I’m building skills and have something to show for it are important to a fulfilling and happy life. And that week in the calendar is chock full of these things.
I will admit that I enjoy these things about a thousand times more than I did when they were available to me while I was working. So really, the most useful thing I can share with you is that mindset and relieving stress has done more for skyrocketing my happiness than trying to find something that is so stimulating and awesome that I hope it can spread its awesome waves throughout my life and drown out the misery of my other stresses.
In other words, subtracting stress and time pressure has done way more for my happiness than adding any specific activity or experience ever could. It is the low hanging fruit.
A friend was telling me yesterday that he made a list of his dreams and a list of things that made him happy, and he set them side by side. His dreams involved achievements (promotion at work, house paid off, etc.). But his list of things that made him happy was all about things he had right now. And those past achievements? They weren’t on the list providing ongoing happiness.
From my experience so far, the things in this calendar are the foundation of a happy and fulfilling life. I believe that engaging work – whether hobby, part-time, full-time, or not formalized – is absolutely necessary to be happy in the long term. However, the bedrock foundation is not about just an engaging project or “passion.” Things like socialization, time in nature, and play take up equal if not more time in the foundation of a dream life for me.
Anyway, this was a long way of telling you I need to go and walk my dog now. Necessary for my personal fulfillment and all. Be back soon.