In this Part 2 conversation with my guest, Carrie Wrigley, we discuss a few of the transformational tools in her new book, Your Happiness Toolkit- 16 Strategies for Overcoming Depression And Building a Joyful, Fulfilling Life.
RS: The topic for today’s episode is Building Your Happiness Toolkit for Retirement. This is part two of my conversation with author Carrie Wrigley about her new book, which is titled Your Happiness Toolkit for Retirement- 16 Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Building a Joyful, Fulfilling Life. Along with being an author, Carrie is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), a counselor, public speaker, and performer.
I wanted to have Carrie back (to do two parts) about her book because the topic of her book is so very important for people as they transition into retirement. What oftentimes happens is people think that when they reach retirement that everything is going to be perfect and that happiness just automatically happens. And what Carrie and I have found from working with people in retirement is that a lot of times they lose their identity when they’ve been working in a career for 40 plus years.
RS: A lot of times they all of a sudden do not have their title. They lose their purpose. Many times, connections that they have at the workplace are lost. They spend more time at home with their spouse, which sometimes brings up friction. So, all of those things, along with a number of other things, can cause people to become unhappy in retirement. Unhappiness sometimes can even lead to depression. So, what I found very useful about Carrie’s book is that it provides a great resource for people transitioning into retirement if you’re running into some of those issues that are causing you to be unhappy. Carrie’s book, again, is a great resource and I highly recommend going out and getting the book. It’s something that I use when I work with my clients.
RS: So, in part one, what Carrie and I covered was an overview of her book. So, what the book was about, how it can help people, who it can benefit, particularly as it pertains to making a successful transition into retirement and why it is important to build a happiness toolkit. And in this episode, what I want to discuss with Carrie is getting into a few of the tools that she has in the book so that we can start- so you can start to use some of those tools in your own life. Carrie’s book can be purchased on Amazon and at BarnesandNoble.com and Carrie’s website is CarrieWrigley.com. C A R R I E W R I G L E Y.com.
Carrie also has a companion workbook that will be coming out soon. So, if you go to her website, which I just mentioned, look under the books tab, you can sign up for her newsletter to receive the workbook when it becomes available.
So, Carrie, welcome back for part two. I’m excited to dive into the tools a little bit more with you. Before we begin, is there anything you’d like to add to any of the comments that I made in the introduction? Anything I left out? Anything new that’s coming out on your side that you’d like to mention?
CW: Sure. Just, this morning I actually added a new resource, which is kind of a ‘Get Started Guide.’ 16 tools is a lot of tools and the great thing about that is that it’s a comprehensive, very richly packed guide. You know, what I found some people struggle with is, so there’s so many ideas. If I feel bad today, what can I start today? So, what I added today is actually a quick start guide. It’s a free guide that can be downloaded from my website. Again, CarrieWrigley.com, that particular article is called Five Common Pitfalls That Secretly Sabotage Your Happiness and 5 Quick Start Strategies to Build Happiness Instead. So those are brand new resources just out this morning as again kind of a quick appetizer, a quick bite into the kinds of strategies and the kinds of tools that I go into in great detail in the book. So, and that’s available again for free on my website as well as the book itself from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
RS: Perfect. A good place for people to start again, go to Carrie’s website and you can download those tools. So, I think happiness, Carrie, a lot of times is thought of as something that can be pursued or something that we find. It’s either we have it or we don’t have it. So, explain how happiness is something that we can build a little at a time?
CW: Yeah. Well, like you said, I think a very, very common, almost universal misconception is that happiness is a right, happiness is something that someone needs to give to us. Whether it’s our spouse, or our child, or our government, or our God, or whoever it might be and that we need to pursue, that happiness that can come to us from that outside place or, or more recently, that happiness that can supposedly come from a product.
The Advertising industry spends millions of dollars a year trying to convince us that if only we have this product or that beer or that car or that kind of house or that medication that we’ll finally be happy. You know, what I find instead is something very, very different than that, which is that our happiness has everything to do with what we personally do, what we personally think, how we personally take care of our bodies, how we nurture our relationships from day to day, a moment at a time.
CW: So, it isn’t something that can just come to it as it’s something that we intentionally like a brick at a time need to build. But we do that best if we know the difference between what builds happiness versus what tears it down, which is what both the book and that little quick guide are intended to help people start getting acquainted with, to make those wise decisions.
RS: Okay, good. What are some of the things that sometimes get in the way of our happiness or perhaps hold us back from being happier?
CW: Yeah, there’s many of those, at least 16, and they’re all documented in the book. Some of the more common ones of course are forgetting to take care of ourselves, forgetting to eat what actually feeds our bodies, forgetting to move, forgetting to get sunlight and sleep. Those basic things. Failing to have a purpose in life, as you mentioned, that’s a really common dynamic in retirement as it is with a lot of major transitions in life. A lot of people experience that when they graduate from college or from high school or, or you know, when they get home, say from a mission experience or the new mom, all the things that drove her before that were the purpose of her life before, that were important to her before suddenly they’re all transformed, you know, and so in, in, in those transition experiences, including retirement when our world and our sense of purpose and identity is disrupted, that can bring about a significant change in our, in our happiness. And of course, there are a lot of things that can happen to us in life, loss and grief and conflict and abuse and environmental stress and injury and illness and so many other things.
CW: And if we’re not careful, can kick us over into unhappiness. They don’t have to, but they’re, they frequently are triggers that that can, you know, create situations in our lives that can be difficult to feel happy in the midst of. And a lot of what we focus on in the book is even when, especially when it was a very normal, difficult experiences in life hit, those challenges, how can we weather them well rather than allowing those challenges to take us down? I think one of the other factors in our day and age that affects happiness so much is that we often are over-engaging in our devices or electronic devices, which are never going to make us really happy and ultimately will distract us from the real relationships, the real food, the real experiences, the real achievements in the real world that can actually bring us joy.
I find quite frequently with my clients from the oldest to the youngest, that the more time people spend on social media watching television, browsing the internet…I’m not talking about creating things on computer systems and stuff like that. I’m talking about just kind of, you know, browsing to see what they might find or reading novels hour after hour thing. The more time people spend doing that, by and large, the more purposeless and the less joyful they tend to feel. So, with almost all my clients, you know, one of the first things that we do is get them taken care of their bodies better and get them reduce things significantly. The amount of media that they’re consuming so that they can reinvest that energy and attention and strength in doing things that can actually bring them actual joy.
RS: Yeah and I, that’s a good point Carrie, because that happens a lot in retirement. Once we have more free time, we have more time to spend on our computer, we have more time to spend on Facebook, we have more time to spend watching TV and we move away from having meaningful relationships with people. The relationship becomes kind of through our, or through that device a lot of times
CW: Having people like your post on Facebook is not the same as having an actual relationship. And as I’ve gotten into some of the other social media formats, particularly like Instagram, where you don’t even have to have a two- way relationship, you can just follow somebody, or they can follow you. And it’s not even really any kind of relationship even as much as Facebook. And that’s so far from having an actual neighbor or spouse or friend or child or in a relationship in the real world where you’re doing things for each other and you’re going out to lunch together and you’re helping each other with tasks and different things like that. So, its’ super important, especially in retirement, that we don’t get lost in that overabundance of media that’s available to us.
RS: Yeah. So, I wanted to talk with you a little bit and spend some time having you tell us about the 16 strategies, which is part of the title of the book, the 16 strategies for building happiness and overcoming depression. So, explain how the 16 strategies are laid out in the book- I think you have levels one, two and three- and then how these strategies can be used either individually or collectively?
CW: Yeah. Well, the 16 strategies are basically a collection of things that I’ve observed in my own life, in my family’s life, and particularly my professional life as a counselor, that are those practical things that help people heal. And you know, person number one in situation a may do, you know, tool number one, five and seven and person B might do strategy two, six and 10 you know, person number three may just need to do number 16 or whatever. I really thought carefully through when I’ve gone through my down experiences, including during those many years before I was a professional counselor. What did I do to get myself through? How did I get across from unhappiness to happiness? What helped? What have I seen my friends do that (who) aren’t necessarily professionals? And so, while I have drawn heavily on my professional background, I’ve also drawn on just the everyday skills and experiences of regular people, including children.
CW: So, the way that I ended up after assembling kind of the list of those 16 strategies, I looked at them carefully. I divided them, as you mentioned, into three levels. And I found this to be very exciting. Level one I call Inborn Traits. Now these are actually inspired not by heavy duty PhD written psychological manuals. They were inspired by my grandchildren who are age two and younger. Because those little kids didn’t need to go to therapy or be put on Prozac to know how to be happy. They’re just happy, you know, especially my little grandson, he walks in, he’s not quite three years old now, but from the time he was born, I noticed this. He would just light up a room with a smile, you know. And, and I remember when we were going through the last presidential election and there was so much conflict and I was feeling really distressed about the state of our nation.
CW: I took a little Isaac out, you know, I’m on a walk and he was looking at, he was about five months at the time. He was looking at a tree and he was looking at the sun and he was looking at mountains. He’s like, Oh, Oh, Oh! And he was just so thrilled with the amazing world that surrounded him. I’m like, man, how long has it been since I’ve noticed that, you know? And there were a number of things like that that I noticed with little Isaac and now little Leah, who’s now five months old, um, that, that they just naturally did. You know, to engage in life in ways that made them happy and nobody needed to read them the manual, they just came with it.
And that was actually really exciting for me to recognize that five of those 16 strategies are literally inborn traits because that’s what level one is. They’re literally inborn traits that we all came into this world knowing how to do. At some point we didn’t, nobody had to train us in them. They, they’re literally loaded into the system. And that’s fantastic news because even though over the process of time, we might let go of some of those things, the fact that we’ve, at least at some point done that, had access to the means, they’re much easier to regenerate than something that we’ve never ever done before. There are literally things that are simple enough that toddlers can do them, you know. And so that’s level one.
Level two, I called Learned Strategies. These are things that are somewhat more advanced than those inborn traits, but that we all basically have some experience learning how to do by the time we’re school children’s, say eight years old, So they’re a little bit more advanced than those sort of toddler level skills. But there’s still things that, again, almost all of us have had at least some life experience with. So likewise, just like the first five traits, those that second five at level two traits are things that we already kind of know how to do. We just need to be reminded and we can amp up our ability to access those things with ourselves or with the other person that we’re dealing with.
And then level three I call Advanced Strategies. Those are things that school children can’t do and toddlers can do. Those are things that do take adult level intelligence to learn and to apply. They’re more difficult, they’re more complicated, they’re more demanding and they’re very powerful. And some therapists start with those, like number 16 out of the 16 is healing, healing from past pain. Well, needless to say, some therapy programs start with that. Let’s go deep into what was distressing to you when you were three years old and let’s talk about your abuse. Let’s talk about your parents’ divorce. Listen, what I find is if I start there with a client, I immobilize them because then they’re busy in addition to whatever they were concerned about today.
Now, in addition to thinking about all those terrible things that happened before and they don’t have any tools here and now today to help them, even weather today, let alone all that stuff that happened before. So, in my system, that’s number 16 out of 16 it’s super important. It’s super powerful, but you don’t even want to go there until some of those other things. The simpler things are in place or the same with cognitive therapy, the way you think about stuff. That takes a lot of training and preparation and learning new material. Super powerful. But I never ever start with it because it takes a while for people to get the hang of that. Whereas some of the simpler skills you can start doing today.
Like I mentioned with the little Isaac, noticing what’s good, appreciating the beautiful and the amazing starting with the gratitude journal. That’s something that again, you don’t have to have training to do. You just have to start noticing, yeah, what, what good happened today or what kind thing did someone do to me today? Or you know, what simple joy of life can I be grateful for? Maybe there’s a particularly beautiful sunrise or rainbow or whatever. Again, you don’t need training to do that. We just need to remember to do that.
So, level one, Inborn Traits level two, Learned Strategies and level three, those Advanced Strategies. And they all kind of work together and, and you know, people can either proceed sequentially through the book. Or more commonly, people can kind of dive right into the tool that is most relevant to their particular needs. And so, it’s very useful that way.
RS: Okay, perfect. So, at the conclusion of each of your chapters, Carrie, in each section you introduce a new, what is called a transformational tool that people can begin to use immediately to strengthen their happiness and wellness. So, the first tool to give people a snapshot of where they are currently in terms of their happiness is the tool in the toolkit you call the wellness grid. So, explain the wellness grid and how people can use this tool.
CW: Sure. This is a really simple but really powerful tool. And again, I’ve done it with even young children. Basically, it consists of thinking of the different areas of life and just simply identifying and writing down on paper, those different aspects from different areas of life that can contribute to your happiness. And so, the way I do that is I have people get a piece of paper or again, there’s a page in a book. Now, draw a vertical line, draw horizontal line, essentially dividing their paper into four quadrants and then titling those quadrants mental, physical, spiritual, and social. And I have people kind of brainstorm about different aspects or different activities or, or things in their lives that they can plug into each of those areas. I’ll just give you some examples from the book mental- read a book. That’s something that, you know, again, hopefully my book and there’s many, many others that I referenced in the book and others that exists out there that are wonderful resources because when we learn new things, it empowers us in new ways. And that’s one of those mental strategies. I personally have been so helped by like David Burns, The Feeling Good Handbook or a Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism. There are so many great books out there and I’ve tried to draw on the benefits of all those different books in crafting mine to integrate those insights together. But yeah, mentally reading a book can be such a helpful strategy for giving us new tools to be happier. Do a puzzle. You know, that’s a very different mental strategy that is just about doing something fun.
My particular happiness tool kit, because they’re very individual for all of us…. I love doing music. So one of the most powerful things I can do on a good day or especially on a hard day is sit down at my piano and just start to play or go to acting class or develop some sort of new musicals and so we can draw on our talents. So that’s, that’s my ideas on mentally.
Physically- here’s some ideas: eat more fresh vegetables, which literally help our brains and our bodies to create healthier new cells to help us have a happier experience in our bodies. Exercise for 15 to 30 minutes or declutter a room. Those are some ideas physically that relate to our physical bodies, our physical environment. For some people it might involve, the condition of their finances or different things. Just simple things we can do in that physical area of life.
Spiritual- for some people that’s a religious experience, like going to church or reading the Bible or something, for others who aren’t particularly spiritual, it may be something more like taking a walk in nature or reading some other kind of inspiring literature or laying alone under a night sky and just kind of thinking about the purpose of their lives and maybe starting a journal or something like that. So that’s kind of spiritual (things we can do).
Then finally, social, some ideas: call a friend, do something kind for someone else, help a family member, or simply go out to lunch or do some of this other kind of more normal social things we think about.
So, as we plug in that wellness grid, you know, very specific to what works for us, what’s helpful for us mentally, physically, spiritually and socially. It basically creates a menu for us and we’re not going to do all of those things every single day, any more than you’re going to walk into your favorite restaurant and (for) that meal order, everything on the menu. But having the menu there, means that the options are immediately available that you can select from. And so, I find that that’s a really powerful strategy for people.
A lot of times the people who have been depressed or anxious for a long time, they don’t even remember what they like, or quite possibly, with retirement or some of these other transitions. Maybe what you used to like to do or you used to be able to do is now different and you can have to brainstorm a little bit about what you can plug into in its place as physical capacities change or as opportunities and context change. So, to be able to develop that wellness grid specific to the individual and specific to the time period and challenge that the individual is going through now is a really, really helpful and powerful first step. And then every day and every week people can select from those things on their grid to be able to implement those things in a very powerful way day by day to build their happiness.
RS: Perfect. Yeah. Not, not only for people in retirement does that provide a good tool for helping with their happiness, but it also provides them some ideas of what to do throughout their day to fill some of that time that they now have a lot of. So not only does it help them fill their time, it, it creates something in them that gives them more purpose and provides happiness for them. It gives them something to look forward to in the coming days and coming weeks. So, it’s a great, great tool.
CW: And of course, some of us have the opposite problem. We have so much that we need to do that we can get completely overwhelmed, retired or not. I actually did the wellness grid myself for myself a couple of weeks ago when I had so many different things I was trying to balance and putting them into those little piles and then kind of color-coding, what do I really need to do today? What do I really need to do this week? You know, got it all out on paper so I didn’t have to worry about anymore. It’s now on my paper and now I can just focus on what to do today. In so many ways, this is a really, really helpful tool.
RS: Yeah, absolutely. So, let’s talk about a couple of the other tools. Because there’s so many valuable tools in your book Carrie, we can’t cover them all. But I did want to talk with you about transformational tool number two, which is the up or down spiral. So, explain how the up or down spiral works and then maybe how, how that tool is worked in combination or how it works in combination with the wellness grid tool?
CW: Yeah. So, the up or down spiral is basically represented in the book literally as a spiral that goes up or a spiral that goes down. Okay. So, it has that little, um, graphic representing those things. And the idea is that in our behavior, in our thoughts and the way that we live our lives, we can either be on the upward spiral doing things, thinking things, relating in ways, spending our time in ways that emotionally take us and other others around us up or we can do the reverse, you know, and that we need to be very aware at any moment. Are we going up or are we going down?
One of the things I do a lot in the book is apply a sort of self-rating scale from minus three to plus three. So specific to the up or down grid you might think, minus three is at that bottom of that emotional measurement, so it’s just like I’m really depressed, I’m paralyzed, I can’t really do anything. You know, a top three would be, I’m ecstatic, I’m excited. Things are fantastic. Zero was just kind of neither good nor bad, just kind of meh, kind of in the middle. And sometimes people will say to me in counseling, it’s not that my life isn’t great, my life isn’t terrible just kind of there. But if they were at that minus three bottom, I’m like, fantastic. You’re making wonderful progress now from meh, you need to move up to happy, you know, but, but to recognize at any point we can be at any stage in, in that continuum, in that spiral. And so, if we’re on a downward spiral, we need to identify what are we doing that’s feeding that spiral. And again, that’s what these 16 strategies, as well as these five pitfalls that I’ve identified in the quick start, um, can help because we can identify maybe I’m watching too much TV, maybe I ate too much sugar, maybe I’m spending too much time by myself. Maybe the things I’m watching on TV when I watch are making me anxious. Like maybe I’m constantly watching violent cop shows and now I’m a worry that somebody’s going to break into my apartment and, and kill me, you know, or whatever.
There are ways that we can spend our time that make things worse for us as opposed to, and this is where it plugs into what you were talking about before with the wellness grid, almost by definition, those things we put on our wellness grid are going to take us up on that spiral. So maybe it’s been a while since I’ve read a book and that’s kind of taken me down cause I’m kinda set in my ways and I’m stuck doing things that don’t work. And so, starting to read a powerful new book can start us on the upward spiral. Maybe I’m sitting around too much and I realized, you know, I need to move more. Even if I don’t exercise per se, I just need to move around the house more, you know, park farther away from the grocery store to go pick stuff up. Whatever it is. Those little changes, you know, can, can activate other changes because whatever the direction of our emotional movement, it tends, one action tends to set the foundation for the next. And so, we can either be moving up towards more happiness or down to less happiness.
RS: So, you had a quote from the book that I found very interesting. You said, “I find that there are some things that my clients almost universally need more of and less of in order to recover and retain their mental wellness and with it oftentimes their physical wellness”.
So, tell us what this list includes and, and again, I think it’s so relevant and important to a person’s retirement transition because all of those things fall right in line with what happens when we retire a lot of times. And there’s, and your, your list I think is, is not simple changes necessarily, but it’s things that we have control of ourselves that we can do. So, give us some of that list if you would.
CW: Yeah, sure.
RS: Talk about some of those changes…
CW: And I’ll reference the book specifically because I have it marked here. This is on page 73 if anybody wants to follow along. So yeah, I have this little more or less grid that goes on for a couple of pages comparing these things. I’ll just share the bullet points of those things. The number one thing my clients tend to need more of whole natural high fiber, high nutrient food and less fake food made in a factory low in nutrients. In other words, more fruits and vegetables, less Twinkies, Doritos and Dr. Pepper. You know, the more stuff we’re eating that comes out of packages, bottles, factories, the less we’re actually nourishing our bodies. Our bodies are designed to function on living ingredients from things that have been alive recently. You’re not going to find that in those packaged foods and so almost universally to encourage that upward spiral of better brain function, better physical function, weight loss, energy, all that kind of stuff. Almost all my clients find they need to adapt their diets so they’re eating less sugar, less junk food, less processed stuff, less fast food and more of the stuff that actually nourishes us, that’s number one.
And it basically is number one in the same way that putting gas in your car is… you’re not going to go anywhere unless you stop first at the gas station. You know, food is fuel and alternatively fuel is poison. If you were to stop at that gas or not, some of the gas stations, I think instead of gas, I think I’ll just maybe put some Dr. Pepper in the engine that should work really well, yeah not so much, and it doesn’t work any better for the engines of our bodies and our brains. So that’s literally number one, what we’re putting in, we are what we eat and what we drink.
Second, physical exercise in the real world, we almost all need more of that at whatever age, you know, movement, exercise, being outside in the real world. And almost all of us, as I mentioned, need less media and sedentary activity in a fake world. Less TV, less video games, less social media, less browsing the internet to see what might happen to come up. We need to take purposeful, proactive action in the real world in ways that benefit us and other people. Next, we need more focus on creating something of value unique to the individual. When we tend to experience the greatest joy is when we create something unique. When I write a new song or, when my daughter who loves to cook, creates a beautiful meal. Or when my son, who loves to mountain bike, carves out a new path that he’s never experienced before on that trail, you know what? So, we need, we tend to need more of those things. Carving out and developing and creating new things that are specific to our talents.
What we tend to need more…what we tend to need less of is to focus on simply passively consuming what others have created. Listening to hours and hours of songs other people wrote and sang. Eating package after package of quote unquote food that other people developed. You know, um, spending hours having adventures on video games or in novels that somebody else imagined. It’s when we access our own powers, our own imagination, our own abilities and create something beautiful that we can share with ourselves and others. That’s what creates joy. We need more of that and we need less of just passively sucking up whatever the media or the advertising industry encourages to continue to consume next because it doesn’t make us happy.
CW: The next one, we need more natural highs to manage stress and increase well-being. And again, those ties can come from anywhere in that wellness grid. There’re mental highs where you realize and have aha moments and new perspective you hadn’t had before. There’re certainly physical highs when you climb to the top of that mountain and see that beautiful vista. There’re spiritual highs when you get a whole new sense of the meaning of your life at this stage of your life. It’s a human being. There’re social highs when you have that thrill of interaction with somebody else. We need more of those and we need less addictive mood-altering substances and activities.
Whenever I’ve dealt with somebody with an addiction, whether that is to prescription drugs or to alcohol or to sugar or to media, which I think is the most common of all addictions. Now what everybody tells me is, well I just need a distraction. I just need to avoid something. I just need, you know, our lives…. we don’t experience joy in our lives by avoiding and distracting. We experienced joy in our lives by creating and achieving and discovering and engaging, and so…and then the last one is super important. We need more actual meaningful connection with actual people.
As I mentioned before, those person to person connections, those eyeball to eyeball, heart to heart conversations are ever so much more powerful at feeding our joy and what we need less of, which is imaginary or cyber relationships. I read a book back in the 1990s by a sociologist named Mary Pipher. It was called The Shelter of Each Other. And even then, I think it was 1998 when that came out, we had a lot less technologies than we do now. But even then, she said that she saw the emerging sociological pattern being that people were spending more and more time by themselves in their own space with their device of choice and less and less interacting with each other.
And so in 1998, how that looked was, you know, little Billy was in his room playing his game boy while mom was in her room watching a soap opera and dad was in his room checking the stocks on the computer, and the older son was in playing with his video game in his room and so-and-so was listening to her music through their headphones and whatever. And they’re all in the same house but they’re in different spaces and they’re focused on different things. She said that is the greatest threat currently to our connections. Fast forward 20, 30 years, we have so many more of those distracting, disconnected devices. And so, again, taking the phone away from in front of our eyes and looking into the eyes of the person in front of us, seeking out those real world, real people experiences.
Of course, the most destructive of all of those cyber relationships is pornography, which absolutely poisons our ability to be able to interact with each other in positive healing, beautiful, really loving ways. So, we need less of the fake stuff. We need more of the real stuff across the board physically, spiritually, socially and mentally.
RS: Yeah, that’s interesting that that book came out 20 years ago and just think how much has changed and how much worse it’s gotten in the 20 years and in terms of how much less time we spend interacting with people or how we interact through… we interact through our devices now instead of, again like you said, (having) direct, face to face conversation. What I thought was so powerful about that list too Carrie, is if you look through each of the list of what we need more of, what we need less of, all of those things are so directly impactful for people as they transition into retirement. All of those things are so important.
And as a retirement coach that that whole list really is what we talk to a lot of people about too. We… I… when I do it, I break it down kind of into specific categories like that, almost like a pie chart. And we talk about each of those different areas and how important those areas are towards living a happy, successful, vibrant retirement. So, the list is absolutely perfect, and everybody needs to look at that list and follow what you need more of what you need less of. And, like you said, just combine that with the wellness grid where you can start filling in some of those things. What do we need? What do we need more of? What will make me happier so that my spiral is trending upward and, and not downward.
CW: Correct. Yes.
RS: So, let’s see, where am I at here? Um, so the more or less… let’s talk about a little bit about that because there’s a transformational tool, the More or Less Grid. So just talk about taking that more or less and turning that into a grid for people, which I think you kind of touched on but let’s just talk about that in terms of another tool that people can use.
CW: Well again, these tools build on each other. So, we have the Wellness Grid, we have the up or down spiral and now we have the more or less grid. The more or less grid is specifically, not just looking at what I need to do more of, which is all the Wellness Grid stuff. But correspondingly, what I need to do less of. In the spirit of that little quick start that I just put on my website that I mentioned- five common pitfalls that secretly sabotage our happiness. There are a lot of the same things, eating junk and not being active enough, not connecting with real people, you know, that kind of stuff. We need less of those things. And so, we can put those in a little grids as comparison side by side. I need more of this. I need less of this. For example, I need more actual time talking to my children or talking to my friends and less time just kinda checking in what the Kardashians are doing on Instagram today, you know, or whatever. I need to eat more salads and less, um, uh, pastries. I need to make sure I’m getting more active movement, moving around my house, more parking farther away from the grocery store, whatever, and less of just sitting around being sedentary.
So much of aging…so much of the illness and deterioration that goes with aging is simply because we don’t move. We don’t use our bodies, we’re not active anymore. We think that the golden years of these times, we’re supposed to be able to just sort of sit in our chair and do nothing. Well guess what? That’s how we get sick. And it’s completely optional. Some of the most vibrant people I know are in their seventies or eighties and beyond because they’re constantly doing things. They remain physically active, that doesn’t have to stop and shouldn’t stop just because we’re aging and you know, the more free time we have, fantastic.
The more of those wonderful things we can do spiritually, physically, socially and mentally to continue to contribute to the world, to contribute, to create, to continue to connect and mentor and nurture others. Rather than just sit in front of a TV (and say) Well, I’ve worked for 50 years in my life, so now I deserve to just sit here and just destroy myself by sitting here for too long. You know, how is that a reward and the reward of a life well lived is to live a second well lived life. And that hasn’t really helped with that.
RS: Right. And when people start to do that, when they start not or …they don’t move anymore or they move much less and they don’t challenge themselves mentally, they don’t have those social connections. That’s where things like you mentioned tend to go downhill sometimes very quickly for people.
CW: Yeah, very, very quickly. You know, men when they retire and women when they become empty-nesters are a lot of my clients. And like you, I’ve had to work very, very carefully to help people strategize that. Or on the other hand, I gave a talk to a group of seniors on Monday night and we were talking about having impact with one’s grandkids because we, in our generation, remember a time when it was normal to play outside. You remember a time when it was normal to have face to face conversations and to answer an actual phone, we remember a time when we made actual food. Our kids and our grandkids are growing up in a world that they never have met that world. You know, we can literally be the messengers and exemplars of that world in all that extra time that we now have rather than getting sucked into that sort of cyber fake artificial world they’re getting sucked into.
I think I mentioned in the first podcast in my state, in 15 to 24-year-olds, suicide is now the top cause of death. That’s crazy. That’s crazy. And it’s because our kids are getting sucked into these downward spiral sort of behaviors at a very young age and they’ve never had any life experience with anything different. We, that have been around for a few decades, remember a time when those real things were normal and they’re still very much there alongside the junk foods. There’s still the vegetables alongside the cyber entertainment. There’s still the actual plays and the actual ability to gather around a piano and seeing actual experiences that we enjoyed as children. You know, we can be the, the guardians and the expressors of those things to mentor others that may not have had as much experience as we’ve had. And with all that extra time that we have because of retirement, we have more time to develop that than somebody that seems still trying to work a 40-hour job or going to school or whatever.
RS: Yep. Perfect. So, before we end our conversation, Carrie, is there anything else you’d like to mention or talk about? Anything we skipped over that’s important (to mention).
CW: I think I just want to your audience with idea again that retirement, like all the transitions of life, can be a tremendously powerful trigger. I talk in my book about triggers. We talked about that more in your first episode. How life experiences like transition and conflict and disappointment and grief and loss can absolutely, do absolutely, trigger a depression, anxiety, loss of self-esteem and so on. But by the same token, those very same experiences, those transitions, those grieves, those things can also have the opportunity to trigger new growth, new discovery, new adventures, whole new dimensions of life. You mentioned marriage for example, and my husband technically retired a few years ago, retired being, you know, an operative (term)… he’s never been busier than since he quote retired because he’s like the poster child for what we’ve been talking about, of filling his life with these rich, beautiful new things.
And there’s times that it has been challenging and kind of annoying to have him around all the time. But on the other hand, it’s been exciting to see him develop whole new parts of himself. And as he has developed parts of himself, it’s developed whole new parts of our relationship, whole new adventures that we’ve been able to engage in together.
RS: That’s awesome.
CW: So that’s, that’s really the take home message as we go through these challenges of life, these changes and difficulties and even the griefs of life, you know, we can discover and build and create amazing, joyful, powerful, new things throughout life. We don’t have to stop growing or giving or learning or producing or contributing just because we’re retired.
RS: Absolutely. So, Carrie, thank you for joining me today again for the second episode. Um, lots of valuable information and again, listeners and readers go out and get Carrie’s book. It’s available on Amazon and Barnes and noble. It’s easy to find. Thank you, listeners, for joining us today. If there are any topics you as listeners would like us or me to cover in an upcoming episode, just send me an email. Read up my life’s Encore. Until next time. Thank you everybody. Thanks, Carrie.
CW: Thank you. Bye. Bye.