What makes you happy?

brother and sister on a rock by the sea
Laguna Beach picture of my kids from around 2001.

My husband asked me to sit and watch a webinar with him yesterday. It was CE credits for him, but he thought I’d find the subject interesting. Begrudgingly, I sat with him. Surprisingly, there were a few tidbits that I found helpful.

The topic was about what makes people happy in retirement. Number one was not being stressed about money. At a certain point, when you aren’t worrying about outliving your money, more money doesn’t improve happiness. Good health is another key item.

I was surprised that friendships were near the top of the list. When people leave the workplace, they often give up their daily social interactions. I thought about this because it’s something I’m dealing with now. Since the pandemic and moving to Arizona, I don’t have the day-to-day interactions with people that I had before. Of course, I lived in California for three decades in the same house, so I had it wired. I had the swim team, women’s club, my kids’ school parents, etc. I stayed in touch with people I worked with years before and we still got together. I knew the postman, the grocery clerk and countless other people.

Moving to a new state and neighborhood, we were lucky to discover friends from Palm Springs who moved a mile away from our new home. It’s refreshing to get a last minute call and be invited over for football or dinner. And we reciprocate.

My husband had one of his closest friends two miles down the road. They were friends from their 20s and we got together every week or two since we moved. But my husband’s friend died suddenly in November from an illnesses that was not COVID. Watching the webinar, my husband muttered a few words about missing his friend.

I haven’t thought much about needing friends or a social life. I’m pretty content to sit at home and watch the birds. Sit outside and read. I didn’t really view myself as a people person. This webinar made me think about the years ahead.

It’s hard to make new friends when you’re older, not in a work environment and in a new state. The webinar convinced me to join book club, which I’ve never done before. I had gotten an invitation earlier that day. It was a sign that yes, I’d better give it a try.

Here is what I found really fascinating about the webinar: most people facing retirement think living close to their children will make them happy. In reality it doesn’t bump the needle like friendships do. It’s not even close.

What do you think will make you happy in retirement? Why do you think living close to your children doesn’t make retirees as happy as social friends?

15 thoughts on “What makes you happy?

  1. Kids need to have their own lives. So do parents. And they each need to decide what their future holds. Just because you’re near your kids doesn’t mean you’ll see them a lot. Bad assumption.

  2. I’ve hung onto my childhood friends, college friends and my later age friends. They are all far away but we do get to meet once in a while and talk on phone. It is important to have friends because kids have their own busy lives.

  3. I think I will need my hobbies in retirement. I can’t see myself getting bored or lonely when I can write and craft and hike. If my husband is gone before me, I might get a dog. I’d love if my kids come to visit, but the less they need me, the better I must have done preparing them for life, so I want them to come because they want to. Introvert prospective, for sure. 😄

    • I totally understand. That’s how i feel too. It’s so nice to visit my kids and then they go out of their way to spend time with me. If we lived close by it would be different.

  4. Very interesting. I love being by my kids (2 of them live with use) but while we are friends, it’s always a different relationship. You are always a parent and they do have their own lives, which means I did a good job as a parent. I realize that I let go a lot of my friendships when I got married and it is hard for me to get close to people so now I am feeling that. I think I have more online friends than I do real life ones.

  5. I thought about the friendship component a lot before retiring. I have moved in and out of friendships over the years, never really having a best friend or even core group of friends for a long time. I think of most interactions as focused on work associates and I knew I would miss that part of leaving the job. It’s all still very new, and right now I don’t feel deprived or especially needing to actively search out others. That’s not to say I plan to sit alone either! The children being close by is another thing entirely now that I have the one out of state. I’m pretty darn okay with them living their lives and not be a fixture in their households. I love them beyond words, but I need my space!

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