21 Tips To Stay Positive In Retirement

Sometimes, retirement isn’t what you expected. You might feel bored, sad, lonely, or even depressed at the moment. You may wonder, how do you stay positive in retirement? 

Well, no need to look further—I’m here to help you out. I’ll share some helpful tips on how to stay positive and happy in retirement. Let’s unpack right away!

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1. Live In A Positive Environment

After some time, the life of a retiree can feel dull and monotonous. Boredom and depression can creep in, ruining the newly found freedom. To combat these issues, staying positive is crucial. One effective method is to ensure you live in a positive environment.

Your environment plays a critical role in shaping your mindset. By actively maintaining a space that fosters positivity, you can shield yourself against negativity. Here are some simple ways to make your home more positive:

  • Let the sunshine in your home: Open your windows and let the sunshine flood your home. Natural light is scientifically proven to improve mood and productivity. It also benefits indoor air quality and enhances the visual appeal of your home.
  • Embrace brighter colors: Painting your walls with brighter colors can make your home feel lighter and allow sunshine (and artificial lighting) to spread further. Brighter colors, like yellows, oranges, and light blues, are often associated with positivity, energy, and happiness.
  • Declutter and clean: Clutter can be visually stressful, so removing it is key. The act of decluttering itself can be therapeutic, reducing stress, while finishing the process provides a sense of accomplishment and adds to your happiness.
  • Manage your information diet: Limit your exposure to negativity from TV, radio, and the internet. While staying informed is important, there’s an overload of negativity in the news. You can prioritize other sources of information that uplift and inspire you.
  • Bring nature indoors: Having potted plants keeps you connected to nature, improves air quality, and can enhance mood, productivity, and concentration, as studies have shown.

This is just the first step. By making your home a positive environment that radiates positivity and supports your well-being in retirement, you can stay more positive. The next step is to focus on fun things to do.

2. Focus On Fun Things To Do

Spending as much time on things you enjoy can help you stay positive during retirement. Specifically, it can boost dopamine levels, reduce stress, and give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment. The more you enjoy an activity, the more you can benefit from it.

Here are some common activities retirees find fun:

  • Traveling: I might be biased on this one, but I assure you that traveling keeps me occupied and positive. I often find myself exploring and learning about the places I visit. Hiking and walking are great ways to discover the natural beauty of new places.
  • Pursuing a hobby: There are countless things to try, and it’s up to you to discover which ones pique your interest. From painting and photography to weightlifting, the possibilities are endless. Now’s the time to pick up something new and exciting.
  • Socializing: Connecting with people can be a fun and positive experience. While some social pitfalls can bring negativity, the benefits of social interaction far outweigh the risks.
  • Getting fit: Staying physically active is a well-known way to boost positivity in retirement. As a bonus, you’ll also improve your health and potentially live longer.
  • Enjoying your “me time”: Retirement can lead to more alone time, which might seem negative at first. However, you can turn this into a positive opportunity for self-discovery. Practices like meditation, yoga, and mindfulness can be wonderful tools for personal growth and inner peace.

And if you’re looking for more fun things to do in retirement, here’s a great tip: Check out MasterClass. MasterClass offers online courses taught by the world’s best and most famous teachers, providing an incredible opportunity to learn from the best in the comfort of your own home.

3. Practice Meditation

As mentioned, practicing meditation is a great way to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. It’s like taking a step back: you see them, but you don’t have to follow them.

Are you familiar with the “monkey mind?” It’s our brain’s tendency to chatter incessantly, especially when we’re alone or trying to rest. Negative thoughts can amplify this noise, and we often get caught up in them without realizing it. They pull us away from the present moment and hinder positive thinking. Meditation is a convenient tool to stop this mental chatter.

To meditate, simply sit comfortably and focus on your breath. If thoughts pop up, don’t worry. Gently bring your attention back to breathing. Start with a few minutes a day and gradually increase the duration as you get better at it. This will strengthen your mental focus and make you more resistant to distractions like noise, pets, and other things.

If you’d like more guidance, I recommend taking a course called “Mindfulness and Meditation” taught by Jon Kabat-Zinn on MasterClass. Here’s the link:

Membership to MasterClass.

4. Use Positive Affirmation

Staying positive is all about what you feed your brain. When you fill it with negative thoughts, it can become overwhelmed and adopt that negativity. This is why meditation is so valuable in preventing this mental imbalance. But it’s not the only tool—actively nourishing your mind with positive thoughts is equally important.

This is where positive affirmations come in. These are powerful statements you repeat to yourself, whether in the mirror, during meditation, on a walk in the park, or even while exercising. They’re essentially neutral yet uplifting phrases that can subtly influence your subconscious mind towards positivity.

Even if you initially doubt the truth of an affirmation, the act of continuously repeating it can actually rewire your brain’s pathways. It’s a neat psychological trick. 

To get you started, here are some good affirmations:

  • I am worthy of a fulfilling and joyful retirement. 
  • Every day is a new adventure waiting to unfold.
  • My inner wisdom and creativity guide me towards my passions. 
  • I connect with love and laughter wherever I go.
  • With gratitude, I cherish the present moment and embrace the future. 

Remember, the most effective affirmations are those that resonate with you personally. Feel free to adapt these suggestions or craft your own unique statements that speak to your specific hopes and aspirations for your retirement journey.

5. Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is another excellent way to stay positive during retirement. Compared to meditation and affirmations, it can help you feel better about yourself and others and make you stay positive more.

Research in positive psychology links gratitude with increased happiness. The neuroscience of gratitude agrees that it’s not just about fleeting moments of positivity; gratitude can improve your overall health and enhance your enjoyment of life experiences.

Expressing gratitude means actively acknowledging the good things in your life. This includes not only major milestones and achievements but also the little joys—past, present, and even future possibilities.

Keeping a gratitude journal is a wonderful way to cultivate this practice. While ideally you’d jot down a happy event and express thanks for it at the moment, an hour before sleep works well too. This way, you end the day on a positive note and can potentially wake up with a similar feeling.

The more you do this, the more naturally grateful you’ll become. Even simple things like a spouse passing you the salt can elicit a gracious, thankful response.

Starting your day with this intentional shift of focus sets the tone for what matters most. As you consistently practice gratitude, it becomes ingrained, leading to a lasting sense of well-being and increased positivity.

6. Find Humor In Everything

Another powerful way to stay positive in retirement is to cultivate a sense of humor and find laughter in even the everyday. With negativity swirling around the world, a good laugh can be a potent antidote. Research even suggests that humor programs can improve emotional well-being by boosting self-efficacy, positive thinking, and optimism while reducing negative thoughts and stress.

As I often say, “If you can’t find the light, be the light.” There’s no shortage of opportunities to find humor in life; it’s part of our human nature! However, remember to be mindful and sensitive, as what you find funny might not translate to others.

So, next time you’re feeling down, try turning the situation into a joke or seek out someone with a bright sense of humor who can lift your spirits. A stand-up comedy routine, a funny movie, or even a shared lighthearted moment with a friend can do wonders for your mood. Even in the darkest times, laughter has the power to heal and bring light.

7. Surround Yourself With Positive People

As mentioned before, your environment plays a significant role in your well-being, and a crucial element of that environment is the people you surround yourself with. Choose to spend time with people who uplift and inspire positive feelings. Prioritize those who energize you rather than draining your reserves.

Remember, some individuals can leave you feeling exhausted, unhappy, and burdened by negativity. Limiting your time with them is an act of self-care, not because you dislike them but because you deserve to protect your emotional well-being. This applies not only to people you actively dislike but also to those who consistently exude negativity and drain your energy.

While you don’t need to completely cut them off, setting boundaries and limiting your interactions can be crucial. It’s simply about protecting your mind from negativity and prioritizing your own emotional health.

8. Exercise Regularly

Maintaining positive mental health is crucial for a happy retirement, but caring for your physical well-being is equally important. Regular exercise is a powerful tool for achieving this.

Start by recognizing that exercise is a potent mood booster and mind elevator. Numerous studies have shown its effectiveness in preventing and even combating feelings of depression.

So, how does exercise work its magic? During physical activity, your brain releases a powerful trio of neurochemicals: endorphins, dopamine, and adrenaline. These natural chemicals act as painkillers and mood enhancers, leaving you feeling confident, less anxious, and less stressed.

Aside from producing neurochemicals, regular exercise fosters better sleep, crucial for overall well-being. Quality sleep improves cognitive function, memory, and emotional resilience.

9. Do Good

Now that you’re surrounded by positivity, it’s time to become the source yourself, spreading that infectious joy to others. A simple act of kindness, a donation of time or money, a random gesture—these are all powerful ways to uplift your own mood while bringing a smile to someone else’s face.

Volunteering is a particularly popular way for retirees to become positivity magnets, offering a wealth of benefits:

  • Finding fulfillment: Dedicating your time to a meaningful cause fosters a sense of purpose and satisfaction that enriches your retirement.
  • Spreading joy: Witnessing the happiness you bring naturally elevates your own mood—a shared smile is a double dose of positivity!
  • Combating boredom: Staying active and engaged keeps your retirement vibrant and avoids the pitfalls of idleness. You’ll be too busy making a difference to feel bored!
  • Building connections: Volunteering provides opportunities to interact with others and combat social isolation. The more positive people you surround yourself with, the more the positivity reverberates.
  • Rediscovering purpose: Retirement can be a time to embrace new challenges and find a renewed sense of meaning. Volunteering helps you fight the negativity that can come with navigating this new phase of life.

By enriching your own life while making a positive impact on others, volunteering offers a recipe for a truly fulfilling and meaningful retirement. If you’d like to delve deeper into why retirees find such joy in volunteering, check out my article: “Why Do Retirees Volunteer?

10. Get In Touch With Nature

Nature is a magical thing. When you look at the stars, your own problems become very small. You feel refreshed and energized when you go for a walk in the park. A dip in the ocean feels like a detox for the mind and body, which helps the positivity within you.

Spending time in nature also offers numerous documented benefits for both physical and mental health. Research shows that being outdoors can:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety: Studies have found that immersing oneself in nature reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and boosts feelings of calmness and relaxation.
  • Improve mood and well-being: Spending time in green spaces has been linked to increased levels of dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters associated with happiness and contentment.
  • Boost cognitive function: Nature walks and exposure to greenery have been shown to improve memory, attention, and creativity.
  • Enhance physical health: Outdoor activities like walking, hiking, and swimming naturally increase physical activity and contribute to overall health and well-being.
  • Promote social connection: Nature provides opportunities for outdoor gatherings, shared activities, and connecting with others, which can combat loneliness and social isolation.

Ditch the screens, and embrace nature. Hike a trail, chase sunsets, or dip in a lake. Make fresh air your daily retreat, not the television. Your happy place awaits outdoors. However, if you can’t go outside, bring nature in! A Himalayan salt lamp or a small indoor fountain can offer a touch of serenity and a reminder of the natural world.

11. Smile

Want to stay positive? Even a forced smile can unlock surprisingly powerful benefits. The simple act of making that facial expression—even when you don’t feel like it—tricks your brain into thinking you’re genuinely happy. This triggers the release of these happy chemicals:

  • Dopamine (pleasure and motivation) 
  • Serotonin (mood boost and anxiety reduction)
  • Endorphins (natural painkillers and mood elevation)

The facial feedback hypothesis explains this phenomenon: when we smile, even fake or forced, our facial muscles send signals to our brain that we’re experiencing positive emotions. 

This impact extends beyond just brain chemistry, boosting confidence and self-esteem, enhancing approachability and trust, and fostering stronger social interactions and relationships. As you know, these all contribute to a more positive overall environment for you as a retiree.

12. Stop Comparing

I’m guilty of comparing myself to others, too. It’s a trap that’s easy to fall into, especially in retirement. Suddenly, possessions and achievements seem magnified—a constant “pissing contest” against other retirees. You compare positions, bank accounts, houses, even 401(k) contributions. But stop!

Theodore Roosevelt was right: comparison truly is the thief of joy. It breeds envy and jealousy, negativity that poisons your own happiness. Comparing leads you nowhere, stealing your peace and drowning you in a sea of negativity.

Instead, embrace self-confidence and smile. Use affirmations to bolster your morale and self-esteem. You have better things to do than to look at others as if they competing against you. 

And if you truly want to “win” that “metaphorical contest,” you still have time. Reconnect with passions, explore new hobbies, and cherish time with loved ones. These are the pursuits that make you truly rich and better. Be the happiest and most positive!

13. Accept Life As It Is

Constant comparisons stem from an inability to accept life as it is. Retirement, ironically, can become a breeding ground for regrets. We ruminate on missed opportunities, bad decisions, and the gnawing “what-ifs.” Remember that dwelling on the past sabotages you and will steep you with negativity.

Accepting life, though easier said than done, is crucial. You can’t rewind time, no matter how we yearn for “undo.” As the saying goes, crying over spilled milk won’t magically fill the glass. So too with life; focus on what remains, not what’s done and gone.

To make it easy for you to accept your current life and achievements, remember what I said: practice gratitude. Be thankful for your present blessings, both big and small. Celebrate your milestones. Reflect on how fortunate you are compared to many—not everyone retires. Globally, an estimated 60% of those above 60 remain in the workforce. In the US, almost 15% of 65-year-olds continue working!

Accepting life isn’t about ignoring the past, but understanding and appreciating the present. It’s about letting go of “what could have been” and embracing the “what is” with open arms.

14. Set Positive Goals

Can’t embrace your life as it is? Build an ideal retirement you can strive for! Setting positive goals empowers you to rewrite your future, using what you have to create something better.

These goals aren’t just motivational trophies; they shift your mindset to a positive one that’s focused on the future. They’ll pull you out of bed each morning with excitement instead of regret. 

And even if you already accepted life as it is, goals remain vital. We humans crave them; they’re roadmaps directing our time and energy toward what truly matters. So, grab a pen and ignite your retirement journey with a bucket list!

Remember, goals are action magnets. Inaction breeds negativity, and negativity is the last thing you want in your golden years. Take charge, set your sights, and watch your ideal retirement unfold right before your eyes.

15. Take Responsibility

Many people unknowingly fall into the victim role during tough times, especially in retirement. Feeling overwhelmed with self-pity and negativity, they constantly compare themselves to others—thinking that hope is gone—especially if they’re truly experiencing hardships. Not everyone has a successful career that leads to a comfortable retirement, after all.

As a result, they tend to see the glass as half-empty, getting stuck in a cycle of complaining and feeling sorry for themselves. This shows up in always comparing themselves to others, feeling envious of others’ achievements, and being unable to plan their own path.

If this sounds familiar, take proactive steps to break free. Acknowledge your failures, but don’t embrace the victim mentality. Instead, take charge of your present self and work on overcoming past failures. This newfound responsibility becomes your defense against negativity, turning your downward spiral into an upward climb.

Taking responsibility starts with recognizing your mistakes. Understand the harm caused by self-pity, then practice forgiveness. Make things right by setting positive goals, learning from your experiences, and committing to not repeat them.

With a clear plan, focus on the present and commit to your goals. If doubts cloud your confidence, seek support from friends, family, or even a professional. Remember, you’re not alone in dealing with past failures or working toward a brighter future.

16. Be Social

Loneliness can negatively impact you in different ways. It can heighten your vulnerability to negativity, derail you from meaning and purpose, and foster resentment and frustration. Being lonely during your retirement can be fatal.

Because of that, the internet is abuzz with the claim that “loneliness is just as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes daily.” While this saying needs some nuance, it does point out the growing concern about loneliness as a public health issue. Its harmful effects have been linked to various health problems, including:

  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Dementia and cognitive decline
  • Weakened immune system
  • Early death

As humans, we naturally desire social interaction. It’s like our daily bread, crucial for thriving and maintaining good health. While spending time alone also has a necessary role in recharging and nurturing our inner selves, engaging yourself in social situations can significantly boost your happiness and result in a more positive outlook, especially in retirement.

So, don’t forget to spend more time with family, reconnect with friends, and even befriend strangers. We can’t survive alone, whether we like it or not. Even shut-ins can’t be alone for a long time as they use the internet to socially interact with other human beings.

17. Make Positive Choices

Beyond being thankful and kind to others, actively making positive choices is another key to staying positive during retirement. When faced with life’s problems, choosing the “right” path—the one that aligns with your values and promotes well-being for yourself and others—can significantly impact your journey.

Remember, even amid life’s chaos, the power to choose remains. When you need to make a decision, take a mindful breath and step back. Look at both the small and big picture. Choosing the most positive option might not always be easy, but it sets the stage for greater fulfillment and growth.

Sharpening your decision-making skills and becoming more aware of these moments of choice are crucial steps toward a more positive life during retirement.

18. Consume Positive Media

Earlier, I mentioned that news is a source of negativity; unfortunately, it’s not the only culprit. TV shows, films, and even music are also rife with it. And it’s especially easy to get sucked into them when you’re vulnerable, as you may feel these media resonate with your life in troubling ways.

So, instead of avoiding them altogether, make a conscious effort to seek out alternatives. Immerse yourself in media that are more lighthearted and positive. Turn to quirky sitcoms, heartwarming rom-coms, and even uplifting stand-up comedy to improve your mood and cultivate a more positive mindset. Save the darker, heavier films and content for times when you already feel emotionally strong and grounded.

Remember, the content you consume is part of your environment. So, again, maintain a good diet when it comes to information, entertainment, and media.

19. Try New Things

If you’re steeped in negativity, breaking free from it involves trying new things and doing the opposite of your current routine. This is a quick and effective way to introduce positivity. 

It’s crucial to recognize that every thought and action shapes your experience, and sticking to the same patterns over and over again often leads to the same result: negativity. If negative habits are a part of your routine, let go of them and replace them with more positive alternatives.

Stepping outside your comfort zone is key. While you might already have an idea of actions that could change your negative mindset, fear might be holding you back. It’s time to be brave, especially considering you’re already retired—what could go wrong? Well, a lot. So be careful and don’t do this drastically all at once!

The key is to avoid reverting to negative habits and thoughts. Remember, trying new things introduces new experiences, so keep exploring and cultivating a more positive outlook.

20. Look At The Positive For Every Negative

For every positive, there is a negative; this is a universal law. Just as with finding humor in everything, it’s also possible to find positivity in negativity. You just need to try hard enough.

In essence, you must turn yourself into an optimist. However, avoid being toxicly positive. To do these, take these into heart:

  • Embrace the spectrum: Life isn’t black and white. While positive and negative often exist in tandem, there’s a vast gray area in between. Acknowledging this nuance allows you to navigate life’s full spectrum, with its varying shades and complexities.
  • Seek genuine hope: Instead of blind optimism, cultivate a hopeful mindset. Trust that positive possibilities exist within challenges, without ignoring the full spectrum of experiences. This balanced approach fosters resilience and a more authentic connection to life.
  • Celebrate meaningful victories: Let your celebrations be genuine and reflective of your values. A single correct answer in a lengthy questionnaire might not warrant a grand celebration, but a personal breakthrough or a small step towards a larger goal deserves recognition.
  • Balance perspective with empathy: Remember, not everyone shares your path. While optimism can be a powerful tool, it’s crucial to exercise empathy and understanding. Avoid minimizing others’ struggles or offering unsolicited “silver linings” in the face of trauma. Choose appropriate moments to share your hopeful perspective, respecting the individual needs and experiences of others.
  • Recognize the pitfalls of toxic positivity: Be mindful of unhealthy optimism, which can manifest as minimizing problems, dismissing concerns, or pressuring others to conform to your cheerfulness. Authenticity and vulnerability are cornerstones of healthy connections, so embrace the full range of your emotions and experiences.

Again, be careful. There’s a fine line between being optimistically positive and toxicly positive. Don’t get trapped in that pitfall.

21. Silence The Ego

Retirement can feel like receiving an imaginary badge of “greater experience” compared to others. While this holds some truth, clinging to that belief can be problematic. Inflated self-importance, or ego, can wreak havoc on your life and relationships, making you negative and difficult to be around.

To prevent this, silencing your ego before it gains too much control is crucial. Practices like meditation and cultivating gratitude can be powerful tools. Additionally, avoiding comparisons with others is essential. Remember, your journey is unique, and comparing it to someone else’s creates unnecessary negativity.

Finally, break free from dependence on external validation. Instead, find fulfillment and value within yourself. Pay close attention to social situations and how your attitude affects others. Be mindful and adjust your behavior if needed.


There’s certainly a lot on the plate when it comes to staying positive in retirement. But remember, everyone’s a work in progress! Take it slow, and embrace these tips one step at a time. It’ll take time, sure, but with consistent effort, these practices can become second nature. So, breathe easy, enjoy the journey, and good luck!


In 2021 we sold our house and most of our belongings and hit the road to travel full time and enjoy our retirement. We spent 2 years full time in an RV traveling the United States. Recently we left the US for travel abroad and we can be found on the beaches and cities of SE Asia.

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