A recent study indicated that retirement, especially early retirement, can negatively affect life expectancy! It can negatively affect life expectancy. It does not necessarily negatively affect life expectancy.
During the course of my life I have observed that people tend to either leave the planet within 2 years of retirement, or go on to long and meaningful lives. I believe the key word here is "meaningful."
Retirement was unheard of until the industrial revolution. As workers left the fields for factories perceived problems arose regarding what to do with the "old" folks who could not produce at the level of younger workers.
Retirement was "sold" as an endless vacation, rest, fishing, etc. Women in those days did not have anything to "retire" from, other than motherhood. Usually there would simply be a transition to "grandmotherhood," and stumbling over their retired husband who did not know what to do with himself.
As it turns out, retirement was all too often not all it was cracked up to be. For many people, retirement meant losing a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. Promised leisure became lonely languishing and a sense of life being over. For these folks retirement could be fatal. The thoughts held mind..."It's over." "I'm not needed any more," "There is nothing left for me to do," becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. Life has ended, even if the body continued to live and breathe.
Then there are the other folks...the ones who experienced retirement in a different way. Rather than retiring to "the pasture," they re-tired their lives. Like putting new tires on the car they gained new traction, the ability to grip the road of life and move in exciting new directions. The thoughts they hold, "I have so much to share," "My help is needed here," "Now I have the time to pursue my passion.," become a self-fulfilling promise of a long and happy future.
We all know the importance of eating right, getting plenty of rest and relieving stress to assure longevity. That is the physical side. The metaphysical side; the unseen life-force behind life, reminds us that as long as we are on the planet in our "earth suit," God has a purpose for us; for our lives. God is not done with us yet! Retirement is a human condition, but it need not be fatal. The cure is meaning and purpose in our lives.
As for me, like I said...I need at least another 50 years. Retirement? Mmmmm...somehow it just does not appeal to me. I plan to leave the secular job within the next 5 years, so that I can trade in my "have-to's" for "want-to's." But I'm not waiting for "re-tire-ment," to start the process. My ministry of writing and teaching, and my work with Spirit of Unity Church, are laying the foundation for my next 50 years.
While I won't be retiring as many, I definitely won't be working, because when your work is play, you play all day!
I'm going to go play now...may your day be blessed and beautiful! RevAli