How to enjoy a contended life may be as simple as managing 6 buckets.
It is easy to go through life concentrating on one or two areas whilst neglecting the others. To enjoy a contended life the more you can focus on these areas and have them balanced the more contended you are likely to be. You are also likely to find that topping up one bucket can have a positive effect of topping up or maintaining others.
As you move through life some buckets can empty as your day to day activities change. Take fulfilment: You might find the work you do fulfilling and look forward to time in the office but in retirement, without a focal point, you may struggle to find fulfilment. If you don’t have anything to get up for in the morning days can become something to get through, rather than get from.
The same goes with enjoying the company of others. At work you might have a great team and enjoy the culture of the office but once you have moved on, what then? It’s easy to become detached and lose that sense of community if you don’t have a social network of like-minded people. We are a gregarious species who need others around us.
Doing things we enjoy may be linked to fulfilment or might be separate from it. It may be that we take our ‘work’ seriously and achieve that sense of flow when doing it but don’t necessarily enjoy it. Doing things we enjoy might be more superficial than fulfilling work but is necessary to keep a sense of perspective and positivity. There is scientific evidence showing the importance of laughter.
On the other hand, too much time spent on hedonistic or more superficial activities can leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled.
As a nation it is widely reported that we aren’t healthy enough and don’t partake in sufficient physical activities. The concept of having a ‘healthy mind in a healthy body’ (Mens sana in corpore sano) traces its origins back to Roman times. Being overweight can lead to a feeling of sluggishness and a lack of motivation, let alone the various inherent medical issues that exist. Whereas, being fit and healthy has mental health benefits too (which can increase the sense of fulfilment and enjoyment in activities we pursue).
Being financially secure through long term financial planning helps provide a baseline sense of wellbeing. For many, money is a major source of stress in retirement, particularly because creating more wealth would typically mean going back to work, which will quite possibly be unfulfilling and not enjoyable. The knock on effect of money worries is often relationship breakdowns as concerns result in arguments with loved ones.
The final bucket might be linked to doing things that fulfil you. Whatever you believe (or don’t believe) about life after death our lifetime provides an opportunity to leave a lasting, positive impression on the world. It doesn’t have to be to the level of Nelson Mandela’s compassion and forgiveness or Bill Gates charitable donations, it might be the effect you have on your immediate community or one or two individuals you mentor.
Two quotes I like on this subject are:
“True wealth is what money can’t buy and death can’t take away”. Ron Carson
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others” Pericles
So, how are you getting on with balancing your buckets and enjoying a contended life? What ones are slipping and which ones might empty as you transition from working life to retirement?