In retirement, we can supposedly, hopefully, put some of our stress behind us. Anxiety brought on by responsibilities to raise the family, to create and build a home, and to battle each day in the working world is no more. This is to be our time, our time in the sun, our golden years! But what if that so familiar companion – stress – is determined to stick around? There is always something to worry about, right? What can we do to address and move beyond this into a more peaceful, relaxed, satisfying retirement day?
In an earlier blog “Kick-start your retirement day”, I touched on the idea of focusing on the present moment to avoid stressing about the past and the future. This is one part of an eight-step path that can help you get your thoughts in order, prepare for the day, and ideally help minimize stress. Here are all eight steps for your consideration.
Noble Eightfold Path
Note that the following discussion is my interpretation and implementation of these steps. I want to share something that works for me and may help you kick-start your morning and welcome each day with a more positive outlook. This is an abridged version as numerous books and many chapters are dedicated to this topic. (For more details, see “The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching” by Thich Nhat Hanh)
- Right View – we each have our own unique point of view, evolving from a combination of our upbringing, our environment, teaching received along the way and everything that has gone into making us the individuals we are today. This point of view may distort or prevent a 100% accurate view of the world – we may not see the truth as it actually is. Plan to make a conscious effort throughout the day to see things as they really are. Realize that others have their own point of view which differs from yours. Focus on knowing something is right when it is right, wrong when it is wrong.
- Right Thinking – ideally, your mind and body should be in harmony, in the same place at the same time. If you are walking down the street and your mind is on some distant thought, the two are not in harmony. Ask yourself “what am I doing?” This helps unite your mind and body in this present moment.
- Right Mindfulness – this is the key step along the path, living in the present moment, the now that is real and that you can touch. We are so busy that we often forget what we are doing, missing the beauty of the world right in front of our faces. Realize that your anxieties come from an inability to live in the present moment, instead worrying about things that are out of your control. Talk about frustrating. Throughout the day, plan to make a conscious effort to:
- Not worry about the past that you cannot change.
- Not worry about the future which is out of your reach.
- Live in and appreciate the present moment that is now.
- Right Diligence – if you spend your time focusing on bad things – anger, doubt, fear, disappointment – you are watering these negatives and they will grow. It is better to water the positive things – love, peace, caring, sharing – so that they will grow and flourish in your life. Concentrate on doing the positive things that will help make you into the person that you are meant to be.
- Right Action – it is important that you step up and do the right thing when it needs to be done. Take the action appropriate for the moment. And realize that sometimes not doing something is in fact the right action.
- Right Speech – what we say has a big impact on people around us. Keep in mind the following as simple, common-sense reminders through the day:
- Do not lie
- Do not exaggerate
- Do not say one thing to one person and then something else to another
- Do not say something that hurts someone, even if it is true.
- Right Concentration – within our busy mind, try to maintain evenness, not too high nor too low, not too excited nor too bored. The higher the degree of our concentration, the greater our quality of life.
- Right Livelihood – in your work and your retirement, be true to yourself, your beliefs, what is really important and what you are passionate about. Earn a living and live a life without causing suffering to others.
Before you get out of bed to start your day, take a few moments to review these eight steps. I find it helps put things in perspective to better prepare to face the day. And not just face the day, but a reminder to focus on each moment, to fully appreciate and experience all life has to offer NOW. Don’t miss the beauty because you worry about things that you cannot change.
Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.