Congratulations, you’ve finally retired from the daily grind, the seemingly endless struggle of your profession. You’ve worked hard and now it’s time to let things simmer down a bit. You’ve earned it.
But, even as it may sound like it’s going to be a great time for the rest of your life, you might suddenly find yourself bereft of stimulation. It’s not uncommon for retirees to lapse into a state where their minds may not be as sharp as they once were while they were in their respective professions.
The Theory of Use and Disuse
It is not war that breaks men, but rather it is stagnation. The sword is useful in war, but it is dulled in peace.
The same principle applies to our bodies. When an athlete stops training long enough, his muscles atrophy. When you stop using your cognitive skills, they, too, waste away.
You might even put it (bluntly) that as far as the body is concerned, either you use it or you lose it.
Without a career, retirees often find themselves wasting away because there is no longer a challenge to keep them on their toes. Skills deteriorate, and later on, so might reasoning. So, how do you keep your mind sharp when you retire?
You Use It
It’s a simple statement but there isn’t a more specific way to put it. In the same way that muscle fibers can waste away if left unused for a long time, so too can a brain path deteriorate. So, the simple solution would be to seek out opportunities to create new brain paths. Anything that requires any form of problem solving and skill will contribute greatly to this objective. Even the simple act of reading is bound to help keep your mind sharp. This is especially true when you read books that delve into deeper topics. A few good examples of these types of books are the works of Saint Augustine or even Sun Tzu’s Art of War.
You can even take on new hobbies, like gardening, farming, or carpentry. What’s important here is that you replace the skills that waste away if you’re unable to put them to use. This way, as you continue to learn new things, you also build new brain paths. With each problem that you’re able to solve, you also train your brain to retain or even enhance the way it functions. This is also why chess is especially popular with the elderly. It provides them with an avenue to test their reasoning and planning.
One of the saddest things to happen to any individual is to have that person slowly fall into a vegetative state. From a position where that person was once full of life and light, to where a light fades like a candle’s dying flame.
As I’ve said time and again in this article, either you use it or lose it. You should never allow yourself to waste away. When your mind runs idle, that’s when you begin to deteriorate. Don’t stop moving, never stop learning. Live a happy, fruitful life. There’s more to life than just work.