ways to find joy in life

10 Ways To Find Joy In Life

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). Share on X

looking for joy in my life

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. 

It matters.

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.

helping others brings joy in life
We completed our 115th Fido fence build last week!

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.

4) Exercise

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:

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):

tracking your exercise can help you find joy in life

If nothing else, go out for a walk today (like my friend, Steve, who sent this Tweet as I was writing this post):

the benefits of walking

“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.

Enough said.

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.  

how to find joy in life according to ChatGPT

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.

In summary:

how do I find joy in my life

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…


    1. Slow down and appreciate something you have previously overlooked.
      Reframe an annoyance as a blessing

      1. Both are great suggestions, Allen. Reframing is a powerful skill, and I encourage everyone to try to exercise that muscle.

    2. The only thing I might add is living in the present moment. I find that joy disappears when I live in regret of the past and anxiety over things in the future that might happen ( but usually never do). When I am present I can savor the sunrise, walking with my granddaughter, building a snowman etc. When I am present I remember to breathe and that in itself is joyful. Though I am not retired (July 1, 2024). I have appreciated the honest, clear and loving approach to retirement that Fritz has shared and that my wife and I will enjoy.


      1. Like your philosophy on being present. It’s human to live one’s life to other peoples expectations and certainly in the work world.

        I’m looking forward in shed some of those expectations; and worries, which, I don’t want to think about anymore.

        With those gone. I believe my mind, and soul and presents will be more open to different experiences.

  1. Get involved in your community – serve on local boards, be volunteer advisors to local government, be a mentor or coach. Adding such purpose to one’s life is gratifying and improves the community. Or consider running for elected or appointed office, or supporting local candidates who do.

    1. Preach it, Sandy! I can’t stress enough the value of finding a way to get engaged in your community. We thoroughly enjoy our volunteer work – perhaps even more than writing! (Though, I have to admit, the idea of being involved in local politics is unappealing at this stage in my life).

  2. Reminds me of the quote from the movie – The Bucket List . The Egyptian myth mentioned was that when the ancient Egyptians died , the gods waiting at the gates of heaven asked them 2 questions allowing them to enter 1. Have you found joy in your life? 2. Has you life brought joy to others?>

    1. Great movie, Adriaan. And great quote! Fortunately, I can answer “Yes!” to both…

  3. Great post, Fritz! Love Sandy Walter’s comments. Hope to see you on the pickleball courts soon – cheers!

    1. Glad to see our local “Pickleball Pro” jumping in the comments! Happy to have you in the Mastermind Group, Mark. Your contributions are beneficial to us all. See you on the courts soon.

  4. Great discussion with other masterminds indeed Fritz!

    Keeping commitments to your faith and friends. Do it if you speak it. Doing what you say you will do is going out of style, IMHO!

    Purpose in life has been discussed previously. Big one there.

    Gratitude and kindness to others will soften your heart and allows you to love and serve others well.

    Our Father forgives us, why do we find it difficult to forgive the wrongs done to us?? Also recommend readers to read the book, “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. The movie is not as good. One of the best books I’ve read about forgiveness and perseverance.

    Joy to the World, for He was born on Earth. Only to die for us. Wow! The reason for the season can not be overemphasized. God speed to all of you.

    Merry CHRISTmas, Steve

    1. Thanks for the tip on Unbroken, Steve. Adding it to my “Want To Read” list in Goodreads…

      And you’re correct – the reason for the season is something to ponder. In hindsight, this season was the perfect time to publish this post. Perhaps there was a spiritual influence behind the timing?

  5. Pets. Have a companion in the form of a cat, dog, chicken, cow, llama, ferret, hedgehog, etc. It is silly, lovable, focuses care on another creature, …

    1. Spot on, Karmen. We’ve had 4 dogs since I’ve retired, though unfortunately we lost my “favorite”, Coco, just a few weeks ago. The pain of the loss is offset only by the amount of joy she brought during her life.

  6. Spend as much time outdoors as you can every day. Dogs are great for getting out outside.
    Do things with your hands. Any hobby or passion that has a tangible result will ground you and give you a greater sense of accomplishment than anything you do at work.

  7. Another great way to find joy is to increase your repertoire of recipes and cook new exciting healthy dishes. Sustenance is necessary but you might as well enJOY the foods you eat. The entire process….finding new recipes, shopping for the ingredients, preparation, cooking and eating can be so much fun and just like exercise will promote a healthier lifestyle
    Also it is ok to say “No”! At first you may feel a little guilt, but the JOY of not having to attend an event you really are not interested in can really be freeing. Throughout our lives we have “had” to do many things we didn’t want to do but felt we had to say yes. You can now be more selective and it can bring joy just to not say yes to everything out of a sense of obligation. Be free to be.

    1. Kat, great suggestions. While I’m not much of a cook, I am blessed to have a wife who loves to experiment in the kitchen (and, she’s amazingly good at it). And, great comment about having the freedom to say “no” in retirement. We’ve earned that right! Be free to be, indeed.

  8. “Comparison is the thief of Joy”-one of my favorite quotes.

    Stop comparing yourself, your stuff, your circumstances

  9. Good morning, thank you so much for such an inspirational article.

    I start my retirement journey on January 5, 2024. It is wonderful to see the guidance presented here. Thank you!

    Being mindful has always been an important part of my life. Now I have some renewed direction, thanks to this article.

    I love your idea of a Retirement Mastermind Group. If you have a moment, can you please let me know how you started this?

    Thank you again to all of the contributors for such a great article!

    1. Pamela, congrats on your rapidly approaching “Starting Line” – you’re going to love life on the other side of that line! As for starting a Retirement Mastermind, I strongly encourage you to consider it. If you look in the article, I have a hyperlink to the original article I wrote about the group, which includes some details on how we got it started. I’ll paste it again here for simplicity:


  10. Thank you for a thought provoking post. Here’s another one…. SMILE
    Anything you do and especially with others, a smile always brings joy
    Have a great Christmas

  11. Great summary! A couple of adds:

    Pets in life bring great joy. Whether a cat, dog, or other loving creature. Our dogs bring us joy every day with their unbridled love and living in the moment. In the spirit of giving back we bring them to retirement homes and elder friends homes. They light up being with a friendly doggie.

    Being in nature. A forest. The beach. A meadow. Peace. Solitude. Simplicity of being present.

  12. Practice saying “Yes” every chance you get when friends ask if you want to go do something… even if that means rearranging your schedule of what you “think” you should be doing that day. I said NO too many times when I was overwhelmed with life’s responsibilities. Now that I am retired I have regretted that, and am determined to spend time with friends whenever possible.

    1. Agree 100% Lynne. Since retiring we also agreed to never say “No”. The result is that we have experienced tremendous joy through building stronger relationships, broadening our horizons and stimulating our curiosity. If you keep an open mind you never know what joys the world has in store.

  13. I am approaching my retirement phase of my life also in Jan. After reading the posts about what brings Joy to my life I plan on looking at the list that was created & build them into my retirement. All the answers were food for thought. Makes you look at areas that may be dormant & need reawakening. Thanks!

  14. Find joy, peace, satisfaction in care giving. I
    help my very elderly parent. A good friend cares for grandchildren. Despite the 90 + year difference in the ages that we care for, we find many similarities!
    Find joy in nature & spend time outside every day.
    I second the comment on having a furry best friend.

  15. We all come into contact with rude people, bad drivers, etc. I decide to not let these people determine if I have a happy day or not. Why would I give them that control? It’s helps me to imagine they could be at the limit of their abilities or may be dealing with something very difficult in their lives. I also am grateful that my interaction with them is for a brief moment, whereas they need to be around themselves 24 hours a day for the rest of their lives.

    1. Control is not speeding up to deny some moron access to your lane. Control is slowing down to let that moron access in your lane. Try it, see how it feels. True self-empowerment.

  16. Never stop learning and educating yourself. Most colleges and universities allow senior ciitizens/retired persons to audit classes at no charge. If you don’t want to take a college course, watch a youtube video and learn how to change a faucet or fix a crack in your dry wall. It will keep your mind sharp and you will learn something you did not know before.

  17. Intereting to read this as I am working on a blog post for the Wise & Shine site about choosing joy over happiness!

    Here are the two things I wrote down:

    1) Learn to enjoy the stillness. I’m an early riser so my favourite time of day is early morning when the house is quiet. I sip my tea, read, write and just savour the quiet.

    2) Be mindful. I think this goes along with your first point about mindset. It’s about being aware of things that make you smile or bring you joy.

    Thanks for this brilliant post. I’m going to add a link to it to my post.

  18. Thank you for a wonderful post.

    1) Discover and cultivate what allows you to bring your best self to the world. Prioritize that time and growth. (Ex: for me it’s regular exercise).

    2) Piggy-backing on Barry’s post: I heard the comment yesterday-“If you start comparing yourself to someone else, stop and pray for that person and pray for yourself also.”

  19. Wonderful article, thank you for sharing. I listened to the YouTube clip and it was amazingly inspiring. Also saved the 8 phrases your wife found. 45+ years walking this earth, I live a simple, happy, and comfortable life and still need/want to read quick reminders to keep my head on straight. So very easy to get caught up and lose track of what’s really important, I love these quips because they do help snap me back into focus! Big fan of your site and mission, keep doing what you do!

  20. Thanks Fritz! My two points were living in Christ and Reflection Past/Present/Future. Item 10 covers one. Reflection includes the past (lessons, loves, thankfulness like item 6), the present (rest in the moment and connect with your spirit, mind, body, creation, etc), and the future (goals, satisfying vs. easy paths, learning, etc.).

    You made my day! These are excellent thoughts. Thanks to you and your group. Now I am curious about starting a Retirement Mastermind group.

    George in SoCal

  21. In my younger years, I discovered a mystery…

    When I “SEARCH” or “FIND” anything (“XXX”), especially, when I tried “IN VAIN”, I would never find it.
    Here comes the mystery…

    When I stopped “SEARCHING” or “FIND the “XXX”, it appeared right in front of me.

    This mystery seemed to work better on “TANGIBLES” things such as keys or household items by move on with simple alternatives. But, it also works on “NON TANGIBLES”: joy, happiness by employing the present moment of simple experiences.

  22. I agree Fritz, the answers were brilliant! It was well worth the read. I couldn’t agree more with the list you guys came up with, and I keep those thoughts in my mind everyday. Thank you and keep writing, I always find inspiration in your thoughts.

  23. Inspiring post. Thanks, Fritz.

    I would add – be creative. Draw, paint, sculpt, write, make music, sing….

    Find something that captures your imagination and makes you want to hone your craft. There is a state of mind that Malcolm Gladwell calls “flow” that happens when you focus on such activity. It is highly rewarding.

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