…And what to my wondering eyes should appear?
When we picture being filled with awe and wonder, we often pull up the image of a child in our minds. What if we made it an active pursuit throughout life?
Think of how a moment or sight can take your breath away, even for an instant. Your mind may be set in motion assimilating how such a thing came to be. A snowflake, a child at play, the night sky, an amazing new technology, or the glint in the eye of a loved one all have the ability to fill us with surprise and marvel. We can have moments like that daily. It's there for the taking, if we intentionally choose it.
Being captivated may point us in a new direction toward an interest, person, insight, or lifestyle and change up our life going forward. How often do you take the time and let yourself go there? It turns out that simply just letting ourselves be in that space of wonder for its own sake has health benefits, too!
A feeling of surprised or puzzled interest, sometimes tinged with admiration;
or even a miraculous deed or event; to marvel.
An overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc.
produced by that which is grand, sublime, or extremely powerful.
Awe and wonder can be shared emotions that promote community or connection, either with other people or with nature. Research shows it helps us let go of our individual focus and situation and see we are part of something bigger. Spending time in awe and wonder helps us express feelings of oneness with others and makes us more generous with one another according to Van Cappelin and Saroglou.
As you live in retirement, getting or staying connected to people you trust, can confide in, and adventure with becomes even more important. How that looks may differ for each person.
For many of you, family is the foundation of your community. You may have a spouse or partner and have children or grandchildren across town. However, among Baby Boomers, 47% of women and 18% of men now live alone. 20-25% of Boomers have never had children, and a growing number (approximately another 20%) find their families scattered about the country or the globe. So who are your people or who will they be?
The Power of Friendship
Friends are a wonderful complement in retirement, instead of or in addition to your family. The quality of friendships (or family relationships) becomes even more important in this stage of life. They need to be two-way supportive relationships and they need to be with people with whom you share interests, or you find their interests fascinating to hear about. Having one or more friends who will really be there when the chips are down is part of a healthy lifestyle in aging and is actually a predictor of longevity.
Friendships may change up in retirement and the research shows that as we age, we have a natural tendency to gravitate to relationships that are more life-giving, shedding what doesn't serve us.
I recently had a conversation with a woman about friendship in retirement. She told me of two friends she had had for roughly 40 years. She had retired early and had built the life she wanted while they continued working, so they didn't spend as much time together. Once they retired, she was hopeful they would have more time together. She found that they were out of sync with each other's priorities in retirement. It ended up not being a give-and-take relationship and without work as a diversion or unifier, that got magnified.
You may find that friends you have had in your working years have a different direction in the years ahead. Your address book may change up in retirement due to moving to a new neighborhood or part of the country, but it is important that you keep it active.
Ruth Tongen helps people plan and live meaningful, fun and healthier retirements.