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A Secret to Retirement Happiness? Be a Lifelong Learner

A Secret to Retirement Happiness? Be a Lifelong Learner

July 11, 2022

Intellectual well-being can also be called lifelong learning and is a dimension that you probably do not think too much about…but maybe you should now that you are retired.

There are so many opportunities for continued learning through local colleges and universities. Lifelong learning can incorporate non-credit academic classes, travel for education, and higher-education learning. Lifelong learning stimulates your brain and can help to build strong social relationships. Even if you attended college years ago, continued education should remain ongoing forever.

Many libraries offer discussions and classes on various topics. Computer classes are very much in order for retirees. How many times have you avoided computer technology because it was becoming more and more complicated? You might be surprised at how quickly you will catch on when you take a computer class at any level. Most adult schools and many other organizations offer these classes. Some computer stores also offer computer classes.

Making the most of your senior years with lifelong learning can help you to do the following:

  • Develop your natural abilities
  • Live with an open mind
  • Crave ongoing learning
  • Increase your outward wisdom
  • Adapt to change
  • Find greater meaning in your life
  • Stay involved as an active contributor to society
  • Make new friends and establish valuable relationships
  • Enrich your life and self-fulfillment

The demands of your career life may have interfered with your desire to get serious about your wellness, but now you have no excuse. Put regular wellness practices on your daily calendar in ink not in pencil.

Most people—no matter what age—want to live a fit and healthy lifestyle and stay mentally sharp at the top of their game. These goals are especially true for retirees who see all the advertisements of healthy, tanned seniors walking or running along a beach of sparkling white sand and aquamarine waters.

The retirees in the photographs appear to be in perfect physical shape, very relaxed, and glowing with enjoyment. Thinking that retirement will ensure this lifestyle for you may be a bit of a challenge unless your life pretty much follows this route already.

Maybe think more about how you can become more physically active now that you don’t have the daily commitment of a job. Maybe start boosting your vitality. Maintain your cognitive vitality Cognitive vitality—mental sharpness—is essential to quality of life and survival in your elder years.

During normal aging, cognitive changes such as slowed speed of processing information are common; however, there is significant individual inconsistency, and cognitive decline is not destined for everyone.

Various lifestyle factors and medical comorbidities (simultaneous presence of two conditions: aging and another condition) play a major role in and are associated with an individual’s tendency toward cognitive decline.

Comorbidities that are manageable include diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia (high concentration of fat in the blood)—all three can contribute to cognitive decline.

Other comorbidities such as smoking and excess alcohol intake may also contribute to cognitive decline; avoiding smoking and excess alcohol intake may promote cognitive vitality. Many positive lifestyle factors that you can control include:

  • Lifelong learning
  • Mental and physical exercise
  • Continuing social engagement
  • Stress reduction
  • Proper nutrition

They are all important factors in promoting cognitive vitality during aging. More than likely, you can impact your potential to maintain cognitive vitality by making a few lifestyle changes.

Do not smoke, and if you do smoke, stop.

Your health-care provider can help you to stop if you are unable to do this alone. The important thing is to take that first step to stop smoking.

Practice moderation with alcohol.

Health experts say drink no more than one glass of wine a day or abstain completely. That glass of wine at the end of the day with friends or your partner seems like a nice way to relax. After that, switch to something refreshing like Mojito water (iced water with lime and mint). It is a definite “perk-up.”

Get serious about your diabetes, a very serious disorder.

Maintenance and preventive therapy are the keys to managing this debilitating disorder. Get on a serious exercise program, lose weight, and maintain a diabetic diet without fail. Follow the advice of your doctor and monitor your blood sugar often. Meet with the diabetes educator in your physician’s office and ask any questions you have to help you manage your diabetes.

Hypertension is another serious disorder.

It can have life-threatening results if not controlled. Take your medication as directed by your health-care provider, get lots of exercise, and start using a salt alternative.

In the last on our series about creating a happy retirement through physical, emotional, and intellectual care, we’re going to dive into daily choices and ways to stay sharp as we age.



This excerpt is from Ryan S. Kidd’s book The Art of Retiring Whole. Ryan is a Senior Partner with Validus Financial Associates and specializes in the financial aspects of retirement. Additionally Ryan has a master’s degree in counseling that helps him better understand the non-financial issues that retirees face.