How Can I Stay Happy In Retirement: 25 Tips From Science & Dalai Lama


Retirement should be all about living your best life and being happy. It’s what you’ve worked hard for all these years. So as a retiree, you might wonder: How Can I Stay Happy In Retirement?

In this article, I share 25 tips on how to stay happy in retirement backed by science and the rules of the Dalai Lama on Living a Good Life.  

Thank you for supporting Retirement Tips and Tricks: Please note that some links in this article are affiliate links. When you make a purchase using these links, we may get a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

1) Focus On Peace Of Mind

When we think about happiness, we think about a state of being totally ecstatic. That’s an exciting feeling that we all want to experience as much as possible in life. But we can’t be maximally blissed all day long every day of the year. That’s an unrealistic expectation. 

Life comes with highs and lows. It’s yin and yang. So with all the highs in life, there’s a low. And for you to stay happy in retirement, it’s best to focus on peace of mind instead of chasing after that ecstatic feeling. 

According to the article What Happy People Do Differently on Psychology Today: “Most people accept that true happiness is more than a jumble of intensely positive feelings—it’s probably better described as a sense of “peace” or “contentedness.”

It’s best to not get attached to much to the highs of life but rather focus on experiencing peacefulness. When you live at peace, you’ll experience a much more relaxed balance. Your contentment of life increases, and your happiness is much more sustainable.  

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2) Work With Your Hands

Want to stay happy in retirement? Make or build something.

Doing manual labor can boost your happiness. So get yourself a physical retirement hobby or do physical “work,” e.g., gardening, cooking, and stay happy in retirement.

You’ve probably noticed yourself that working with your hands leads to greater job satisfaction. It connects you with your environment and gives a sense of meaning that most technologies cannot.

A great way to work with your hands and improving your skills is to get an annual membership to Masterclass. You can follow classes on this online platform (for any skill level) taught by the world’s greatest. From Aaron Franklin, who teaches Texas Style BBQ, Ron Finley teaches gardening to Marc Jacobs, teaches Fashion Design, and many more. All from the comforts of your own home and at your own pace. Find out more about Masterclass and check out the latest prices here.

3) Health is Wealth

You can only stay happy in retirement if you stay healthy. Nothing is more important than your health. 

Often we only experience the value of being healthy once we become sick. Don’t make that mistake and make your health a priority in retirement. 

Focus on your health by eating healthily and stay physically, mentally, and socially active in retirement. A combination of different activities and staying engaged is what can keep you healthy. 

Staying healthy will save you a lot of money on health care costs, which avoids a lot of stress about your retirement finances. And an easy step to do is making sure you take in the necessary vitamins you need and support your immune system with all-natural supplements.

Read more: How Can I Keep My Brain Active After Retirement.

4) Sleep Well

For optimum health, we need a good sleep. But also for a good mood, we need to be well-rested. Because the way you feel during the day depends in part what happens at night while you’re sleeping. And sleep deprivation can cause many health problems.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, sleep plays a vital role in well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep helps protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. 

Because when you sleep, your body is recovering. It is working to support a healthy brain function and maintaining your physical health. 

According to Healthline.com, a lack of sleep can lead to moodiness, depression, weight gain, high blood pressure, diseases, impaired brain activity, and a suppressed immune system. So when you’re sleep-deprived, it affects how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others. Because we all know that when we’re tired, we are not in the best mood. 

To stay happy in retirement, you need high-quality sleep. And according to the Sleep Foundation, adults need to sleep 7-8 hours a night. 

For you to sleep better you want to make sure it’s quiet at night. Your sleep can be greatly influenced by your partner snoring the whole night. If snoring is a big problem for you or your partner you can get an anti-snoring mouthpiece from VitalSleep that helps you to breathe easily and sleep quietly. It helped over 400,000 snorers get a restful night’s sleep. You can read hundreds of VitalSleep reviews here.

VitalSleep Reviews

Also, for you to sleep comfortably, you need a high-quality mattress. And one of the best investments you can do for retirement is getting yourself the most comfortable mattress out there: the Puffy Mattress. It is ranked as the best and most comfortable mattress in America! 

I’ve experienced that with an old mattress, you get back, neck, and shoulder pains. It limits you in activities during the day. So I can recommend anyone to invest in a good mattress. You can read the 5-star reviews and ratings and check out the latest prices of Puffy Mattress here.

Puffy Lux

5) Exercise

Did you ever meet a person who was in a bad mood after a work-out?

Exercising is a very powerful way to uplift the mind. Besides the benefits of strengthening your muscles, manage your weight, and reduce the risks for many diseases. Exercising also improves your mental health. 

study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reported that physical activity is a good way to curb depression and to prevent the emergence of depressive symptoms. Alsoaccording to an article on Psychology Today, 25 Studies Confirm: Exercise Prevents Depression.

And according to Harvard Medical School“Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that is the body’s natural painkillers, and mood elevators.”

We now know that exercising is a great mood booster, but how much exercising is good for you? Well, according to the CDC, elderly people need to have at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity twice a week.

6) Maintain Financial Comfortability

To stay happy in retirement, you need to live your life in a fulfilling way with your financial recourses. Because you don’t want to worry about money. Retirement is the time to live stress-free and enjoying yourself.

So, you need to stay on top of your finances. Make sure you have enough money for:

  • Your monthly basic needs
  • Your fun activities in retirement
  • Health Care Costs
  • Emergencies

Having a good financial plan gives you a sense of security and a worry-free mind to live happily in retirement.

Read more12 Steps: Retirement Planning Guide.

7) Be Social

The single most important thing you can to stay happy in retirement is by staying social. And being social also improves your health! 

Did you know that loneliness is worse for your health than smoking, being obese, and high blood pressure?

This is proven by recent scientific work on the effect of social impact on your health. 

Also, having strong social connections:

  • makes your immune system stronger
  • increases your chance of living longer by 50%
  • helps you to recover from diseases faster
  • and lowers the level of anxiety and depression.

This infographic shows the benefits of high social connection and the dangers of low social connection.

It’s proven that social interaction is good for our physical health and emotional and mental well-being. It makes you happier and healthier. 

When you retire, you lose the daily social stimulation from work. That’s why it’s important to seek new ways to be social in retirement to increase your happiness. You can read my article: 20 Ways: How To Stay Social After Retirement for ideas to be social in retirement.

8) Be Grateful

According to Harvard Medical School, research on positive psychology shows that gratitude increases happiness. Being grateful gives people more positive emotions, improves health, and builds strong relationships. 

When you practice gratitude, you focus on the things you already have and learn to be happy with just that. It helps you appreciate where you are in life instead of always focusing on the future.

“Be grateful for what you have while pursuing your goals. Because if you aren’t grateful for what you have. What makes you think you can be happier with more.”

Keeping a gratitude journal can help you to stay happy in retirement. 

9) Give Back

You’ve probably experienced it yourself by giving (a gift, donation), you experience a warm and glow feeling. You become happy when you make someone else happy. It’s that simple.

To stay happy in retirement, you can think about ways to give back: donating money to charity, doing volunteer work, or performing random acts of kindness. 

This is even backed up by science as well. According to multiple studies, giving back increases your happiness. It activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. Also, scientists believe that showing altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain. These hormones give you that positive feeling. 

10) Embrace Nature

Nature is one of the best mood boosters of all time. 

Going for a nature walk, diving into a lake, or the ocean instantly makes you feel better. It’s the negative ions that do the trick. And you’ve must have experienced it yourself as well. Also, Multiple studies on the effect of negative ions show that it boosts your mood, reduces stress, and boosts your immune system.

And over 100 studies show that being in nature—or even watching nature videos—benefits the brain, body, feelings, thought processes, and social interactions, according to Yes magazine.

For you to stay happy in retirement is to get yourself a daily dose of nature. And it’s very easy to do from going for a nature walk, having sunlight on your skin, dancing in the rain, swimming in a lake or ocean. 

11) Think Positive

You can only be happy when you have positive thoughts. And therefore, it can help to practice positive thinking to stay happy in retirement. 

You can view the mind as a muscle. Just like other muscles in your body, it needs regular training to grow. So you to train the mind regularly to produce more positive thoughts.

A great way to think more positively is to practice mediation. It helps to become more present out of your head. With meditation, you train in awareness and get a healthy perspective on your thoughts and feelings. And more and more studies show that mindful people have more stable emotions and better control their mood and behavior.

Tips To Create A Positive Mindset:

  • Start the day with positive affirmations
  • Focus on the good things even though there are small
  • Find humor in everything
  • See failures as lessons 
  • Surround yourself with positive people

12) Focus On Your Priorities

“Energy flows where attention grows.”

Ensure your time and energy in retirement are focused on the things you want and love to do. 

Don’t get distracted by meaningless and aimless activities. You haven’t worked hard to watch TV for many hours in the day. 

Get to know the things you want to do in life and what makes you happy. And make that a daily priority in your retired life to stay happy. 

A great tool is to create a bucket list. You can read my article: 101 Ideas For Your Retirement Bucket List for more inspiration.

13) Don’t Compare

It’s very tempting to compare our worst moments to other people’s best moments in life. Especially with social media, it’s hard not to go down that road. But comparing leads to unhappiness, according to Medium.com.

The grass is always greener on the other side. But most comparisons we do are unfair. Everyone walks a different path, and there will always be another person who does it better or faster. 

The study Hedonic Consequences of Social Comparison: A Contrast of Happy and Unhappy People show that unhappy people’s self-confidence is influenced by how others perform on a similar test. Whereas happy people showed smaller increases in self-confidence.

If you want to stay happy in retirement, it’s best to appreciate yourself and others and stop comparing. 

14) Practice Self-Care

Life can be demanding and stressful. And therefore, it’s important to practice self-care to stay happy in retirement. 

According to the dictionary, self-care is:

  1. the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.
  2. the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. “expressing oneself is an essential form of self-care”.

It’s necessary to function well in life and is key for boosting your mood and reducing anxiety. It also helps to keep a good relationship with yourself and others. And that’s why you need to take charge of your own self-care and make it part of your daily routine in retirement. 

For some people, self-care means taking a nice bath. For others, it’s exercising, meditating, or going for a nature walk. Find out what activity keeps you sane and in balance and make it a habit to stay happy in retirement.

A great idea for self-care is to do a nice wellness routine. Give yourself a skin spa with high reviewed skincare products. You’re not only feeling better but looking better as well.

15) Follow the three R’s:

According to the Dalai Lama, on living a good life, you must follow the three R’s:

  • Respect for yourself,
  • Respect for others and
  • Responsibility for all your actions.

Respecting yourself leads to greater self-confidence, and respecting others creates better relationships. And taking responsibility for your actions makes you less of a victim and more in charge of your own life. This all leads to greater happiness in life.

16) Spend Some Time Alone Every Day

I mentioned earlier that being social is one of the best ways to stay happy in retirement. But being surrounded by people all the time isn’t necessarily a good idea. 

You need time alone every day to clear your mind and to stay true to who you are. You can lose yourself if you’re constantly surrounded by other people. Spending alone time every day is good to recharge, reflect, and regroup. Advised by the Dalai Lama. 

Make alone time a part of your routine in retirement. You can drink a nice cup of tea or gourmet coffee alone, taking a walk in the park, or take a nice relaxing bath, 

One on one time with yourself is a great way to stay happy in retirement. 

17) Don’t Watch The News

Your view of the world is influenced by what you expose yourself to. If you watch a lot of news, violent TV shows, etc., your perspective on the world becomes more negative. 

According to a recent study from the American Psychological Association, half of Americans experience stress, fatigue, sleep loss, and anxiety because of the news. And over the last 15 years, a lot has changed in the way we have access to news. We can be constantly informed about what happens in the country and all over the world. And that has its downside. 

Imagine if you start your day by watching the news or reading the newspaper. You instantly are exposed to a stream of disaster reporting that will affect the rest of your day. It’s a real mood changer.

To stay happy in retirement, you need to find a balance between staying informed and not exposing yourself too much to all kinds of news streams. So you don’t get overwhelmed or depressed. And take in worries that aren’t even your own.

I’ve stopped watching the news many years ago. I read headlines on an independent and online newspaper, so I know what’s going on. And that’s it. I gravitate towards positive news because that makes me happier. 

18) Live A Good And Honorable Life

Another Rule for Living from the Dalai Lama is to live a good and honorable life. Because when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

Now that you’ve retired, a good amount of time of your life has passed. And you can’t change anything about it. But you can always start today by living a more good and honorable life. 

You don’t want to be on your deathbed and have sorrows and regrets for missed opportunities. If there are things you want to do, mistakes you want to straighten, or apologize for situations in the past, now is the time to do it.  

You want to remember your life in a way that you made the best choices in difficult moments or straighten things out when you know you were in the wrong. 

19) Be Open For Change

Life is unpredictable. 

According to the article What Happy People Do Differently on Psychology Today, the happiest people in life are the ones who are flexible, and they don’t hide negative emotions. 

They acknowledge that life comes with highs and lows. Where you experience all sorts of emotions from anger, anxiety, sadness, pleasure, etc. The happiest people use negative emotions as motivation to better themselves and take action into the life they want. And use positive emotions to enjoy the times when life is good. 

They do not become victims of the situation. They accept the situation and have the ability to mentally shift between emotional states and modify their behavior to match a situation’s demands. 

“The ability to shift mental states as circumstances demand turns out to be a fundamental aspect of well-being.” According to Columbia University psychologist George Bonanno in Psychology Today.

Also, the Dalai Lama advises accepting suffering as a natural quality of life. It’s when you can accept your situation; you can change the circumstances. It’s not what happens to you in life but how you react to it that matters. 

20) Have A Loving Atmosphere At Home

In retirement, you’re at home a lot more often. And to be able to feel good at home, you need to surround yourself with things that make you feel good. Such as music, books, plants, and accessories. Treat your home as a sanctuary, where you feel at peace.

“Clean House = Clean Mind”

Sometimes it means to get rid of stuff you don’t need anymore. Because excess can cause stress. It’s no wonder that more and more people experience the positive effects of living a minimalistic lifestyle. The less stuff you have, the fewer things you need to worry about. 

Many years ago, my family and I learned a valuable lesson on a travel trip to Kenia. An African man (who didn’t own much but was very happy) told my dad about his expensive camera. “I don’t want to own an expensive camera, because then I have another thing to worry about when it’s broken.” What a wise man.  

In western society, we all think that we get happier if we buy or own more stuff, but actually, the opposite is true. 

To stay happy in retirement, you can think about redesigning your house to make it more comfortable and see if you can sell or donate stuff you don’t need. And see if that makes you happier. 

Have a garage sale or follow an interior design class from award-winning designer Kelly Wearstler on Masterclass, you can follow. Check the latest prices on Masterclass here.

21) Be Gentle With Earth

Stay happy in retirement by living as an honorable guest on this planet. 

The earth is here for a lot longer than your short visit. We are guests and can use the earth for our enjoyment. And that’s why we must take good care of it, according to the Dalai Lama and David Attenborough. 

Try to recycle and do as much as you can to live more sustainably. We are now in the position to undo the damage we have done for many years. Check out the beautiful Netflix documentary A Life On Our Planet from David Attenborough with a powerful message of hope and solutions on what we can do to help save our planet.

It makes you feel good when you know you’ve done what you can to leave the earth in a better way to the next generation.

22) Once A Year, Go Someplace You’ve Never Been Before

Traveling is one of the most popular things to do in retirement. And visiting new places is exciting, and it is great for our emotional well-being and perspective on life. 

The Dalai Lama advises to go someplace you’ve never been before once a year. It broadens our horizon and introduces us to different cultures, people. We can see with our own eyes new ways of doing things. 

In my articles, 20 Best Retirement Trips In The USA and The 25 Best Retirement Road Trip Ideas, you can get inspired. And visiting a new destination doesn’t mean you have to go far away from home. There are many new places that you can safely visit just a couple of hours away. 

23) Let Go Of Perfection

“Being Happy Doesn’t Mean That Everything Is Perfect. It Means That You’ve Decided To Look Beyond The Imperfections.”

“Perfectionism Is Self-Abuse Of The Highest Order”

“Don’t Wait For Everything To Be Perfect For You To Decide To Enjoy Life.”

And the list of quotes about perfectionism goes on and on. Also, research shows that perfectionism isn’t the way to living a happy life. 

According to the study, Your Best Life: Perfectionism—The Bane of Happiness by John D. Kelly at the University of Pennsylvania, “perfectionists have a higher risk of eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and depression. Most perfectionism is driven by anxiety or self-esteem issues, which have been linked to less personal satisfaction and increased suicide risk.”

Working hard to achieve a goal is not perfectionism. Perfectionism is the fear of being criticized. According to John D Kelly, “when a perfectionist achieves success, they do not experience the delight of the accomplishment. Instead, there is the only relief that this time they did not fail. They lead their lives convinced that perfection is the only means to self-acceptance”.

Try to live your retired life, not in a perfect way driven by self-acceptance but in a way that makes you happy no matter what everyone else thinks.

An interesting article for you to read is, How To Get Fulfillment In Retirement: 16 Tips

24) Disconnect

I have a love/ hate relationship with my phone. I love the fact that I have access to the world with my phone, but I also am addicted to my phone. I like to check the news, watch YouTube videos, Netflix, and scrolling through social media. Much of the time is an aimless activity and a waste of time just to occupy my mind. 

The Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization in the Netherlands did a research: Does the internet make us happier? 

The result showed that “The relationship between internet and happiness differs across aspects of internet usage and different age groups. Internet access relates positively to happiness, but the time spend on the internet often relates negatively. Young people (adolescents and young adults) tend to be less happy the more they use the internet, while seniors (65+) profit from having internet access.”

According to the study, spending too much time on the internet can negatively influence your happiness. So disconnecting once in a while can help you to stay happy in retirement. You can try out leaving your phone in the living room when you go to bed at night, or have an internet free Sunday every week and see what happens to your mood. It’s often a habit that you need to get rid of in the first tries, and it gets better over time. 

25) Choose Happiness

My last tip for staying happy in retirement is choosing happiness. Every decision you make in life, however big or small, has an effect on your happiness. And you can make conscious decisions every day on everything that leads to more happiness in your life. 

You can listen to your gut feeling with every decision you make, whether it feels good or not. If your gut feeling says yes: go for it. If your gut feeling says no: don’t do it. Your soul knows what best for you and what makes you happy. Try to listen to it as much as possible.  

To listen to your gut, you have to silence the mind. Meditation can help you make you more aware of your thoughts and feelings. 

You can practice following your intuition with small daily decisions, so you become more comfortable with the feeling of your gut feeling. Because what you will feed, will grow, so if you feed your intuition every day by following it what it says. Your intuition will become more present and easier to recognize. 

What following your intuition feels like:

I should say Yes
My head says Yes
Logic says Yes
Reason says Yes
Friend says Yes

But…

My gut says No, I don’t know why it says No but it says No. 

So…

My answer is NO

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Kirsten Veldman

I'm Kirsten. In 2017, my boyfriend Léon, and I decided to retire from the rat race to travel the world and work and live location independently. With my articles, I want to help people enjoy and celebrate retirement in the best way possible.

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