Preparing to flourish in retirement—part 2

Senior couple having fun in kitchen with healthy food

Image: viewapart/

First, a reminder from part 1: Martin Seligman, a psychologist and founder of positive psychology, says the aim of life should be to flourish. A Wellbeing Survey used his five pillars underpinning the ‘flourishing life’ to comment on wellbeing.

In brief, Seligman’s five pillars for a flourishing life are: Positive Emotions; Engagement; Relationships; Meaning; and Accomplishment. For an expansion on these pillars go to part 1 here.

The survey also revealed a number of self-care activities that help in building wellbeing:

Self-care activities

Adequate sleep: About one in five Australians (19 per cent) reported only having one good night’s sleep a week—or less. Good sleep was associated with significantly higher wellbeing scores across the board.

Keeping active: One in three Australians reported being active once a week or less. People who are active every day reported significantly higher on all levels of the five pillars for a flourishing life.

Diet: Those who reported that they regularly eat fruit and vegetables (5+ portions a day) and avoid sugary drinks scored higher on all domains of wellbeing than people with poor habits in these areas.

Strengths-based approach in life: People who are resilient and know their own strengths and use them to achieve their goals have higher wellbeing scores. The report noted that this is supported in current literature, which shows that using character strengths contributes positively to physical and mental wellbeing.

Broadening one’s worldview: Those who engage in activities that broaden their worldview or perspectives also have higher wellbeing scores than people who don’t. These activities include such things as hobbies, reading, travel, and leisure activities, which all contribute to learning something new. Two in five Australians (40 per cent) reported they often or always seek new experiences that broaden their worldview.

To flourish is a great goal to have. Is there anything in this list you think you need to, or want to, work on? It’s too easy to find excuses that in reality limit our life and life experience. Not enough time is a common excuse.

But life is meant to be well lived. And the best way to do this is to take a whole-of-life approach that leads to wellbeing, however you measure it.

Bruce Manners: the author of Retirement Ready?, Refusing to Retire, and founder of

Category: Emotional Health, Lifestyle, Physical Health

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