It was my turn to lead our monthly Retirement Mastermind meeting.
I decided to challenge the members with a question.
“How do you find joy in life?”
The answers were brilliant. So brilliant, in fact, that I couldn’t keep them to myself.
So I decided (with the group’s permission) to share them here.10 Ways to Find Joy in Life (from those who have found it and given me permission to share their tips). Click To Tweet
10 Ways To Find Joy In Life
I love my Retirement Mastermind group. We’ve been holding monthly meetings since January and I’ve never missed a meeting. I look forward to them, and the other members feel the same. We rotate the leadership for each meeting and it works well. Every leader has a different style, and the topic is 100% of their choosing.
In November, it was my turn to lead.
Given that our October meeting had a financial angle (an Options Trading tutorial from our local expert, Ed), I decided to focus on a critical non-financial aspect of retirement.
How do you find joy in life?
The instructions were simple: each member had to provide two answers, and they couldn’t repeat an earlier answer from someone else. It turned into a fascinating 1-hour discussion. Figuring out how to find joy in life is a critical issue in living your best life, and I wish all of you could have heard the conversation. We’re growing closer as a group and the discussion was serious.
For the benefit of those who weren’t there, I decided to share the 10 best answers to the question below.
STOP: Before proceeding further, if you’d like to participate vicariously in the Retirement Mastermind meeting, come up with two answers to that question before proceeding. If your answers aren’t included in the list below, add them in the comments. Welcome the the first virtual meeting of the Retirement Mastermind group!
1) Choose To Be Joyful
While it sounds simplistic, we all agreed on the importance of mindset (a topic I’ve written about in the past). We also had an interesting discussion on the difference between Happiness versus Joy. A few of the quotes from our discussion are worth sharing:
- “If you want to be happy, be happy. Happiness and Joy are to some extent self-fulfilling prophesies.”
- “Joy is a state of mind, Happiness is determined by circumstances.”
- “You can’t make anyone else happy if you’re not happy yourself.”
- “Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.”
Focusing on mindset was the first comment made, and it generated a lot of great discussion. If you’re trying to find joy in life, I’d encourage you to start inside your head. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that every member of our Mastermind group has a positive mindset.
Ironically, my wife saw the following on Facebook as I was writing this post, and I decided to share it here (sorry I don’t have the original source, I tried). Note item #8…
2) Spend Your Money on Experiences, Not Things
During our discussion, someone cited the quote “You can have anything, but not everything.” (I believe Paula Pant deserves credit for the original quote). Since we don’t have an unlimited amount of money to spend, how can we best utilize our money to find joy in life?
The University of Texas recently conducted research that “found that consumers are happier when they spend on experiential purchases versus material ones.”
I know it’s true in my life, and I suspect it’s true in yours. When I think about the joys I received while raising our daughter, my mind always drifts to the experiences we had together. That High School graduation trip we took to Hawaii. Those early mornings in the horse barn when she was preparing for a riding competition. Those father-daughter backpacking trips we took together. Strangely, the memories never focus on the material things we did for her.
Now that we’re retired, we have more time to intentionally build experiences.
We’re taking advantage of it, and our lives are better as a result.
I hope you’re doing the same.
3) Find Ways To Give Back. Focus on Others
“Focus on others over self. Look for a need in your community and find a way to meet it.”
That’s one of the top pieces of advice I give to people when they ask me about the keys to a happy retirement. It’s a mindset that my wife and I are putting into practice through her charity Freedom For Fido (where we build free dog fences for low-income families in need). The “Fido Family” continues to grow, and our members all give the same feedback – it feels great to be using our time to help others in need.
In our working years, we were forced to focus primarily on ourselves. We had to sacrifice to earn that paycheck. Now that we’re financially independent, that formula has changed. We no longer need to focus on ourselves, and those who have learned the secret of focusing on others have learned a secret that helps them find joy in life.
Take advantage of your freedom to find ways to give back.
I write a lot about the benefits of exercise, but it was Mark who brought this one up. He’s our local Pickball “pro” and he’s always encouraging people to find something they enjoy that keeps them active. He recently started a weekly Pickleball game for the Fido Family, and we have a standing court time every Thursday. He helps coach the newbies, and everyone has fun being together and getting some exercise.
I can’t state it strongly enough – if you’re not yet focused on your fitness, start now. With time, you’ll see the benefits for yourself, and you’ll find joy in life through your efforts. I like it mix it up and have found the variety of activities makes my life better. Following are some articles I’ve written on various activities I pursue:
- Mountain Biking
- Spinning and weights in my home gym
- Walking the dogs (2x/day, every day)
If you’re looking for tips on how to get started, read How To Get In Shape For Retirement. Set a personal goal to be Younger Next Year. If you want to have some fun tracking your activities, check out Strava, where you’ll get free mapping and stats during your workouts (an example is my MTB ride from last week):
If nothing else, go out for a walk today (like my friend, Steve, who sent this Tweet as I was writing this post):
“Impossible not to be deliriously happy when you walk outside every day.” Steve.
Be like Steve – take a daily walk.
Your future self will thank you.
5) Savor The Success of Your Children
Our 88-year-old member, Ed, stated that he’s become more thankful in his later years. One of his answers to what helped him find joy in life was savoring the success of his children. We spend decades nurturing our children through the child-rearing years, and watching that effort bear fruit as they mature into responsible adults brings joy as you reflect on the impact of your legacy.
Find a way to foster relationships with your children and grandchildren. It was our primary motivation for buying a second home near our daughter in Southern Alabama, where we spend a week every month. Relationships matter, and we’ve never regretted investing in our relationship with two very special ladies in our lives.
6) Have a Sense of Gratitude
When I wrote my Ten Commandments of Retirement back in 2018, my first commandment was to have an Attitude of Gratitude. In the 5 years since I wrote those words, I’ve come to appreciate the impact of that commandment on my life.
I’m not alone.
David was the one who added this item to the list, and everyone in the room agreed. We had a great discussion on the importance of gratitude, and how our perception of events is within our control. We can choose to view the glass as half empty or half full. The members of the Retirement Mastermind are “half full” people, and their attitude of gratitude is infectious. Surround yourself with people who appreciate life and are thankful for the blessings they’ve received.
Someone cited Ben Franklin’s quote, “It’s better to be a pessimist than an optimist,” noting that surprises to the “good” for the pessimist are better than surprises to the “bad” for the optimist. An interesting take that generated some great discussion.
Find a way to discuss the things that matter with people you love and respect.
Then, take some time to be grateful that those folks are in your lives.
7) Forgive Often
The second item David added to the list was to forgive often, sharing an inspiring story of a Holocaust survivor who lost her family in the Nazi concentration camps but later forgave a Nazi doctor who “had put her through Hell” with medical “experiments” they conducted in the camp.
Her name was Eva Kor, and I found her story on The Forgiveness Project, where I read her words on the power of forgiveness. I also found this YouTube video and heard her tell the story (jump to the 5:00 mark and listen in awe…)
“You can never change what happened in the past, all you can do is change how you react to it.”
If a Holocaust survivor can find the freedom that comes from forgiveness, how can we not forgive those who offended us in a much smaller way? The burden of anger harms the one who carries it, not the one who committed the original offense.
Find a way to forgive.
8) Marry Your Best Friend
Relationships matter, and none matters more than your spouse.
Sure, we all face difficulties but find a way to work through them. Foster the relationships that matter most in your life. Life is better when shared with the one you love.
9) Choose To Do The Things You Love
Once you’ve achieved Financial Independence, your world changes.
You’re no longer obligated to work for “The Man” just to earn that paycheck. The implications of that Freedom are far greater than they appear on the surface. The choice of what you do with your time is now yours.
As I wrote in Retirement Is Like A Game of Poker, seek to constantly improve your hand. Continually work to add cards that represent the things you love, and discard the ones you don’t. There’s no limit to the number of cards you hold, and nothing is stopping you from picking up and discarding cards at will.
You’ve worked hard to gain your Freedom.
Use it wisely to find joy in life.
10) Have Faith in Something Greater Than Yourself
In my humble opinion, you can only find true joy in life by including a focus on the spiritual realm. As a Christian, I’ve come to understand “the peace that surpasses all understanding,” and it’s helped me find joy in life. While I never judge the spiritual aspects of other people’s lives, I encourage anyone who is struggling in life to spend some time thinking about their spiritual “health.”
It was Rob who added this one to the list, and he commented on the value he finds in starting each day with quiet meditation. We had a robust discussion and agreed that spirituality is a true source of joy in life.
Learn from Rob.
Take some time alone in quiet solitude.
ChatGPT’s Answer On How To Find Joy In Life
I love to write and have avoided the “crutch” of using ChatGPT when I write on this blog. I intend to maintain that position despite all of the praise folks have for the amazing technology of AI. That said…
…After I had written this post, I decided to check in with ChatGPT to see how the answer compared to ours. After typing in “What are 10 things you can do to find joy in life”, I was pleased to see how closely the answers corresponded to the experience of our Retirement Mastermind Group.
Why Is There Less Joy In The World Today?
In closing, if you’d like to see a fascinating discussion on why happiness is declining in our society, I’d recommend this excellent interview by Peter Attia of Arthur Brooks titled “Why Happiness Seems To Be Declining.” If you do nothing else, jump to the 9:00-minute mark and listen to the 1-minute overview of the negative impact of social media – fascinating (and concerning). Thanks to reader Robert for your email mentioning the discussion – great timing!
I wish you could have been there when we talked about finding joy in our recent Mastermind meeting. Everyone said it was one of the best meetings we’ve had. The discussion was robust, genuine, and inspiring.
Retirement (and life) is about much, much more than money.
If you’re trying to find joy in your life, I hope these tips from my Mastermind group have been helpful.
Your Turn: What did we miss? What tips do you have for folks trying to find joy in their lives? Let’s chat in the comments…