Have you ever met someone that is living in joy? They just always seem to be happy and uplifting. I can tell you first hand, it’s refreshing to be around people like that. What if there was a secret to creating joy in retirement? It turns out, giving altruistically could be the key to happiness in retirement.

The Retirement Problem

The challenge some people have in retirement is they get bored. They are used to working 40 plus hours a week towards an objective for their employer or company. Then they retire. They start working on the honey-do list and all the projects or hobbies they’ve never had time to do. They may even get some of the honey-do list done, or lower their handicap by a few strokes. But eventually, some people get bored. Or they feel something is missing.

As one person shared with me, you can only take your professional golf habits so far in retirement. At some point, you realize you’re never going to play on the tour, and you need to find something else to occupy your time.

Giving Money

Often times clients that are successful in saving for retirement feel so fortunate that they want to give back. But they don’t know how. They might do some estate planning and set up a Charitable Remainder Trust that gives income to heirs now and will donate to their favorite charities later. But still, something is missing. So what can you do?

Volunteering in Retirement

At the 2018 Spring NAPFA conference, I heard a speaker mention that the new retirement trend is volunteering. Retirees are using their skills to help organizations and others altruistically. This, in turn, was creating a more fulfilling retirement.

This makes sense to me because one of the best retirement examples I’ve seen was my grandmother. She volunteered at the local second-hand store and Meal on wheels. She was always keeping busy and socializing while volunteering. And she always had a smile on her face. At her funeral I remember telling everyone that Grandma taught me that you don’t go to heaven, you grow to heaven. It turns out Grandma was on to something.

Studying Kindness

A study of giving showed that altruistic giving without any expectation of reward was different than strategic giving. Altruistic giving activated a part of the brain that engages emotional behavior. Emotion, or energy in motion, as many truth seekers believe, is the stuff that causes shifts in our experiences. Don’t believe me? Check out this excellent blog post Emotion Experience and Well-Being on Nobo.

For more on giving check out Lynn Shattuck’s excellent article, There are two kinds of kindness, and they affect your brain differently.

Where to Volunteer

If you are looking for a more meaningful retirement, consider volunteering. You can find volunteering opportunities on sites like VolunteerMatch which maintains a database of volunteer opportunities in your area.


In Anthony De Mello’s last book The Way To Love, he says (I’m paraphrasing):

Recall the kind of feeling you have when someone praises you, etc. ..and contrast that with the kind of feeling that arises within you when you look at the sunset or the sunrise, etc… The first is a worldly self-centric feeling. The second is a self-fulfilling soulful feeling. 

If you are looking for a more fulfilling retirement, consider giving altruistically and/or volunteering.

Rich Feight, CFP
Rich Feight, CFP

Hi, I'm Rich Feight I'm a fee-only Certified Financial Planner, successful business owner, and self-made millionaire that knows how to beat the system and become wealthy. I have a lot of clients that have done it too. I'm also pretty good at finding that ever-elusive work/life balance so many of us strive for. Lucky for you I have an abundant mindset and give all my knowledge away on my blog. So if you want to know what it takes to become a millionaire, follow me.

    1 Response to "Creating Joy In Retirement"

    • […] Don’t wait for retirement to be happy. Don’t wait for something, or some goal to happen to be happy. Even if you think your dreams are unattainable, give yourself permission to look into it. Ask your planner if they may know a better way. Give yourself permission to be happy now. And if you are retired, here’s a good way to Create Joy in Retirement. […]

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