Old Dog New Tricks - by Gary Stamper
Updated: Apr 26, 2019
Congratulations, you're retired! The question now is, what’s going to bring you purpose and meaning - and joy - from here on out?
Congratulations! You’ve retired from whatever you’ve been doing in your professional life. It may have been a single career, a journey through a particular industry, or, like me, a continuous birth and rebirth process of many professional lives. No matter how you pursued your professional life, if you were blessed, that journey filled you with purpose and meaning.
The question now is, what’s going to bring you purpose and meaning - and joy - from here on out? After all, there’s only so much rest, relaxation, and recreation a person can take before they start to feel unfulfilled and restless, driving everyone around them nuts! Awful? Now imagine what your retirement will be (is?) like if you can't retire?
I know a lot about this. With only social security, I'm going to work, one way or another. At the ripe old age of 73 years young, I'm fortunate to be healthy enough to continue working. I also know that the phrases "Welcome to WalMart" or "Would you like fries with that" are never going to be part of my vocabulary. I enjoy being busy, and I've learned how to turn my many passions - including art and music - into multiple streams of income to supplement my somewhat meager SS checks. And, I know what I'm passionate about.
Like this...My counseling and Integral Life Coach services. Today I'm speaking directly to men, about how to re-purpose their lives after retirement, but everything I'll be doing will apply equally to women as well. Man's Search For Meaning Like Freud a citizen of Vienna and a practicing psychotherapist, Dr. Viktor Frankl also became a university professor and prolific author. His most widely read work is Man's Search For Meaning, a keenly observed account of his experiences in the Nazi death camps during World War II. As he saw in the camps, those who found meaning even in the most horrendous circumstances were far more resilient to suffering than those who did not. "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing," Frankl wrote in Man's Search for Meaning, "the last of the human freedoms — to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. Frankl believed that the very pursuit of happiness is what thwarts happiness, but once you have a reason to be happy – i.e. a meaning – happiness comes automatically.
"Happiness is about looking inward. It’s about satisfying your needs and wants. Happiness without meaning results in a shallow, self-absorbed life. When things go well, when your needs and desires are satisfied, you’re happy. When things get difficult, watch out."
"Meaning is different. It’s focused outwards, on others. It’s about taking care of others and contributing to your community or society as a whole. When we see our purpose as larger than ourselves, we no longer need to pursue happiness. It comes naturally, even in the face of temporary setbacks and discomforts.".”
Why is that important and how does it apply to you? I'm glad you asked!
The Ugly Statistics
Experts point out that men are more susceptible to depression in retirement, in part because their identity is more closely tied to their careers compared to women. In their careers, men developed strong routines and many of their friendships come from work and when they retire, their social networks disappear as does their meaning, their sense of accomplishment, their purpose, According to the Institute of Economic Affairs, retirement increases the probability of suffering from Clinical depression by about 40%. Men live an average of seven years fewer than women, suffer far more from ulcers and stress-related disease than women, and are more likely than women to die from the fifteen leading causes of death. Over 80% of all suicides are committed by men. Statistics from the U.S. -based Center for Disease Control and Prevention show the highest increase in suicide is in men 50 and over, and over the age of 85, men are fourteen times as likely to commit suicide as women!
How to help yourself
I initially imagined that helping other "retirees" could be done in an online cohort of a couple of a dozen like-minded seekers for a smaller individual cost to each but quickly realized that I had that backward: That I would need to focus my attention onto individuals using my counseling experiences as what I'm calling an "Integral Life Coach," working one-on-one with men around "repurposing their lives." As a pastoral counselor and a men's and couples workshop facilitator with ten years under my belt working with people in groups and as individuals around their issues, I've seen that the biggest obstacle getting ion the way of happiness is almost always a lack of Purpose. It's what the masculine is all about. For the last 15 years, my passion and my purpose has been, and is, helping others rediscover their purpose. I'm not going to tell you how I'm going to do that for you in this writing. That's part of a larger one-on-one conversation between you and me as I learn who you are and what you need to successfully transition to your new life, your new or re-discovered joy, your purpose, to uncover and expose your new passion about your life. Whadd'ya think? Is this something you'd be interested in? With approximately 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day, there should be quite a few of you willing to explore this path with other seekers...and I can't help all of them. But I can help you! Gary