Welcome to my blog where I will post commentary on issues ranging from fiction to public policy. Tucked away in the Idea Boxes are “how to” tips on a variety of projects that have become part of our family’s culture over the years. I hope you’ll find some useful ideas there. My blog will take you through the fantastic journey of writing and publishing fiction, as well as commentary on politics, cultural trends, book reviews and family.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Beginning for the New Year

For the last 15 years we’ve spent New Year’s Eve weekend at a small retreat held at Asilomar on the Monterey Peninsula, just up the road from Spanish Bay.  The Ano Nuevo retreat was started by a local couple who didn’t care for New Year’s Eve parties but did enjoy conversations around a fireplace on issues that matter.

There are walks along the sand dunes under the bright California sun as waves shatter onto the rocks and deer nibble grasses under the pines, followed by fireplace chats among friends that lend a new perspective on issues that affect all of us.

This year I moderated a discussion on the subject of how to keep growing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually during the retirement years.

Like every other phase of life (raising children, establishing yourself in your profession), success in the retirement years requires strategy and new skills.  While it’s a relief to own your own time and escape the pressures of work, we need to keep trying new things to maximize our enjoyment and vibrancy during this phase of life.

Using the work of Martin Seligman to frame the discussion, we talked about the three elements of a life of well-being:  (1) positive emotion, (2) engagement and (3) meaning.  The last two are key elements for seniors.

Seligman talks about engagement as “being in the flow,” i.e., when you are so wrapped up in what you are doing that you lose sense of time.  If asked, you couldn’t say whether you were happy or not because you were so completely engrossed.  This “flow” is triggered by different things for each of us.  Seligman talks about it as using your greatest talent in the face of your greatest challenge.

His third element, leading a life of meaning, may involve devoting yourself to a higher cause, a relationship or establishment of community.  We talked about the difficulty of finding community in our busy American culture where friends no longer drop by unannounced and we’re pulled in a million directions.

We talked about hanging onto the wonder a child feels and the joy of anticipation which can fade when you’ve done so much and been so many places.  We also talked about the resiliency some people have when facing illness and loss and where that reserve of positive energy comes from.

We always come away from Asilomar refreshed and looking forward to the year ahead.

1 comment:

  1. If you sit in church long enough, you pick up a few things. I have not check the theology behind this but the preacher said "The #1 characteristic of a Christian is a life filled with Joy". For the next year, anytime he said the word 'Joy' the congregation would yell 'Joy'. It got me thinking. What gives me joy and how can I maximize it? I came up with a list: flying, motorcycling, playing my trumpet, working out, eating, giving joy to others. Now I want to double or triple up on the joy.
    Examples: Flying to double up fly with others, triple fly formation. Motorcycling, ride with others, triple ride with Patriot Guard Riders giving joy to the family of families that give a son, father, brother in defense of our country . Playing my trumpet, double up playing with my band, triple get applause for giving joy to others. Working out, double up working out with others, triple working as a hospital volunteer with cardiac rehab. You get the idea. I live a life full of joy. Maybe there is hope for me?