“When you’ve worked all your life, and you’ve worked hard, long hours, then all of a sudden there’s nothing, it leads to a blank mind and you’ve got to find something to do otherwise you’ll go stir-crazy. You can’t get up in the morning, watch television, then go to bed at night – that’s more or less waiting for God isn’t it? So you’ve got to start looking at projects.”
— Cultural Engagement Project Participant, Gateshead, UK
About 4 years ago, I changed the way I talk to clients about retirement. I used to ask them what they wanted their retirement to look like. And then I came to the realization that it doesn't matter a jot what their retirement LOOKS like. It can LOOK happy, successful, prosperous - and all those other good things that we want our retirement to be... but if it doesn't FEEL good, then none of the rest matters!
So, with that in mind, I invite you to take a look at the coming week, and all the things you have planned for it and ask yourself these questions:
How do you FEEL about the stuff that you've got on your calendar?
How do you FEEL about the people you'll be spending your time with?
And, since I love a good thought-provoker, try these too:
What's lighting you up today?
What are you really looking forward to doing this week?
And, finally, if your answers to the above have left you feeling a little less than enthusiastic...
What's the next step?
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough,
I genuinely believe that I'm one of the most satisfied and happy people I know. And that's not because I'm richer, or more beautiful, or have more stuff or more friends or more talents than everyone else that I know. Far from it.
It's because I make a practice of gratitude. Every day. In fact, I've been doing it for so long that it's become second nature - and it's made a massive difference in my life.
Now, I'm not a religious person but the following quote from Meister Eckhart has always appealed to me:
If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.
So, that's what I do. I like to walk every day and, every day, whilst I'm walking along, I say, "Thank you, thank you, thank you", to myself, over and over again. Sometimes I say it out loud. Sometimes I sing it to myself, fitting the words into the song that's currently occupying space in my brain. Sometimes I whisper it to myself as I walk along. Sometimes I just say it in my head.
However I do it, something magical happens and, before long, I start to see and think of more and more things to be grateful for: the squirrels chasing each other around a tree, the swans and their cygnets swimming along the canal, the Bank Holiday weekend coming up, all the information that I have such easy access to, the two buddies that I get to meet up with for our regular early morning cup of coffee... before long I've lost count of the items on my list. And, in the face of so many things to be grateful for, how could I fail to be happy, and satisfied and even more grateful?
Try it. And if just walking along saying 'Thank you' doesn't float your boat, check out:
A Practical Guide to Gratitude (so you can see and think differently) (from Unstuck.com)
Why gratitude makes life better + 40 ways to get started (also from Unstuck.com).
Find something that works for you and stick with it. I promise - it'll change your life!
My apologies for having two depression-related posts so close together - I'm not suggesting you're all depressed! It's just that it's Depression Awareness Week here in the UK. And, if you live in the UK and are struggling with depression, Depression Alliance has just launched Friends in Need, which provides 'a free and easy way to connect, either online or by meeting in groups and taking part in local activities, all of which help stop the feelings of loneliness and isolation'.