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Living Your Bonus Years

Not all ideas are good ideas. Some ideas are bad ideas. Retirement is one of those bad ideas – it makes no sense. Bill Marriott of Marriott Hotel fame calls retirement a “disease. Publisher Malcolm Forbes said, “Retirement kills more people than hard work ever did,”

Retirement is surely a dead-end idea…literally. Retirement is also a recent idea….and a pretty depressing idea, at that. Look it up in the dictionary. My Oxford says to “retire” is to withdraw, go away. retreat, give up, seek seclusion. Sounds like fun! The Oxford definitions include “retiring from the world” or “to retire unto oneself” or to become unsociable, uncommunicative, withdrawn from society. Who wouldn't want to do that?

How in the world did retirement and disengagement come to be viewed as desirable? More astonishingly, how did disengagement come to be valued and something to be proud of once attained? How many times have you heard people say, puffed up with pride and an apparent sense of accomplishment. . . or satisfaction. . . or admiration:

·      “I retired early,”

·      “We are working hard and saving so we can retire early,”

·      “Did you hear that Dave and Jessica are taking early retirement? Wow!”

After WW II and during the “nifty fifties” the retirement idea morphed into the “Golden Years” of endless leisure and amusement -- where you live in blissful happiness playing golf all morning, board games in the afternoon, and TV during the evening.

But we have a different idea. We believe that successful aging is best achieved by active engagement with others. Some call it social engagement. Others call it camaraderie. Of course, successful aging is also indicated by good health with a low risk of disease, accidents or disability; high mental agility and cognitive capacity; and physical fitness and mobility. But when all is said and done, the best predictor of successful aging is an active life where you are engaged with others and with the issues and events of our time.

Achieving engagement and camaraderie through work. Though social engagement and camaraderie can be achieved in many ways, we believe the most effective and, for most people, the most productive and satisfying, is to continue to engage in work of some kind -- !(1) paid work, (2) volunteer work. (3) in-kind work, (4) Samaritan work or (5) enrichment work. In the words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, "...the work is never done while the power to work remains."

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