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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Continued Learning, Key to Happy Retirement

Keeping Young of Heart

In an earlier post I proffered the thought that retirement is the time to do what makes you happy. (see my post: Retirement Means ) One of the things on my happy list was "learning new things."  I firmly believe that learning new things and exploring uncharted territory keeps you young of heart and fulfilled.  And this is true for all retirees, no matter what shape, age, race, gender, or marital status. Follow your heart...what did you always wish you knew more about? If you like history, do a quick online search of local history spots and jump in the car for a visit, or if time and money allow plan something more elaborate and spend a weekend in Gettysburg or Washington D.C. (see my post: A Walk With History).

Interested in music?  Find a local piano teacher and take some lessons. Curious about backyard birds?  Check out some bird books from your local library. Often times as we age, it gets more difficult to get out and about.  But this shouldn't stop us from keeping the grey matter from getting some exercise! There are lots of things one can do right from the comfort of an armchair: take an online course, or explore a subject through books. Even your cell phone provides opportunities for learning.  Did you ever use the free app Duolingo?  I brush up on my French with this free phone app;  it brings me back to my high school days and makes me long to read The Paris Wife again.

The Fear of Nothing to Do

Many soon-to-be retirees dread the day they will retire because they feel they will have nothing to do once they have cleaned out every closet and cupboard in the house. Are you one of those?  Can't see a full life without work? Believe me when I say that truly is not the long as you take charge of your retired life and make the most of every moment. Retirement can be the best part of the journey we call life.  Continuing your learning is key to maintaining a happy healthy retired life.  In fact, if you approach your retirement from this perspective, you will find you don't have enough hours in the day to do all those interesting and entertaining things you always dreamed of doing. If you are the procrastinating type, get yourself a planner and schedule in things to do, places to go, people to get the picture? If you put it in writing, it is more likely you will do it!

Find Your Passion

I'm starting my third online course this week since I retired two and a half years ago. I am passionate about many things and would love to learn more about them. For example, I love America and feel that many of our young people today do not know what a great country we have.  They just don't know how unique and grand our country is!  Hillsdale College (this isn't a paid promo, strictly my opinion) offers free online courses on the Constitution to any and all who are interested.  They believe that not enough people really know the founding principles of our nation. So they try to do their little part in educating the country by opening their online courses to the general public.  Free! Here is the link if you want to check it out: Constitution 101. You really do not need any advanced computer skills to take this course; it is easy!  It is filled with guest lecturers, primary documents and much, much more.  There are tests available if you want to see how well you are understanding the material, but you are not required to take the tests ever.  What could be better than that?  Learning for learning's sake.

I also took their free course on The Federalist Papers and learned so much more about the wisdom of our Founding Fathers...I am humbled at the brilliance and wisdom of Hamilton, Madison and Jay.

 And now, I've just enrolled in Hillsdale's most recent course offering:  An Introduction to C.S. Lewis: Writings and Significance.  You can check out the course description at this link: CS Lewis .  Lewis is best known for his Chronicles of Narnia, and I must admit, I have not read them all, nor have I ever studied about Lewis himself, so I am quite anxious to plumb the depths of this revered writer and philosopher.

AND!!! When I finish this, I am going to sign up for Winston Churchill and Statesmanship.  Can't wait!!!!  I don't earn any credits for these courses, but then at this point in my life, that's not my goal. I just find these subjects fascinating and am following my passions.

Your Turn

Retirement can be an amazing and fascinating experience.  However, if you wait for the amazing and fascinating to knock on your door, you are likely to be highly disappointed.  As in all things, you must take charge of your days.  I strongly recommend you keep on learning new things, follow your passions, and explore areas you never had time to explore while you were working.

I'd love to here what new things you are learning!  What subjects interest you? What explorations are you making in your retirement?  Leave a comment.