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Becoming A Transcender Retirement Rebel

Becoming A Transcender Retirement Rebel

By Mike Drak

I recently wrote an article about the three types of retirees which generated some discussion and I thought I would revisit the article and expand my thoughts relating to growth-oriented retirees aka “retirement rebels.”

Basically I think there are two types of retirement rebels.

The Self Actualizers

This group contains retirees who Abraham Maslow described as having a constant need for continual personal growth, an insatiable hunger to realize their potential, and become everything that they can be. They can accomplish this via many means – through peak experiences, succeeding athletically, creating their own art or starting a new business. They are constantly setting new goals for themselves so they can become what they are individually capable of being.

Self actualizers are never satisfied with how things are.

They are continually setting new personal goals that will stretch them, and improve them so they can realize their full retirement potential.

Every goal they achieve gives them a “happiness hit” and a feeling of achievement and satisfaction. But they know this feeling will be short lived and to get another happiness hit they continually need to establish new goals and start working on them.

The Self-Transcenders

What many people are unaware of is that near the end of his life Maslow was in the process of amending his well-known “hierarchy of needs model” to include a higher level of psychological development higher than self actualization called “self-transcendence.”

Self transcenders look for a cause, a need, a problem to be solved, something that they are passionate about which becomes their mission and devote their efforts to that.

Their passion becomes the foundation for their giving. They know it’s not how much you give, but how much love you put into the giving that counts.

Being altruistic and having a concern for the “bigger family” is pleasurable and a peak experience for transcenders. Being able to help someone that is struggling leads to a feeling of intense joy, peace, well-being, and a sense of connection. Helping others gives transcenders strong purpose and when you have a purpose-driven retirement you’re a happier person.

In many cases, these behaviors are performed unselfishly and without any expectations of reward. Sure it would be nice to make a little money at what they are doing but this is not what is pushing them to help others.

What I especially like about transcenders is that they are egoless and avoid competing with others because they are beyond that.

They can sleep peacefully at night knowing that they did something that day to help somebody. They wake up in the morning excited, wondering who can I help today?

They have strong identities, they know who they are, where they are going, what needs fixing and how they can make a contribution to the cause in a meaningful way. They have a clear vision of the ideal of what ought to be, what actually could be, and it’s their personal mission to make that happen.

The Secret to Optimal Retirement Happiness Is Finding A Way To Help Others

There is a Chinese proverb that goes:

“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a month, get married. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”

Become A Giver

When you give to others, it will have a direct positive effect on both your health and mental wellbeing resulting in you living longer than most retirees. The act of giving promotes social connection which is one of the strongest predictors of happiness. Additionally giving can also elicit feelings of gratitude and research has found that gratitude is integral to both happiness and health.

In a 2006 study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. Scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.”

A 1999 study led by Doug Oman of the University of California, Berkeley, found that elderly people who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than were non-volunteers, even after controlling for their age, exercise habits, general health, and negative health habits like smoking.

Stephanie Brown of the University of Michigan saw similar results in a 2003 study on elderly couples. She and her colleagues found that those individuals who provided practical help to friends, relatives, or neighbors, or gave emotional support to their spouses, had a lower risk of dying over a five-year period than those who didn’t.

Rebels With A Cause

Now that I’m aware of their existence I’m discovering more transcenders all the time.

Retirement bloggers such as Joe Wasylyk at the Seniorpreneur Project,  Jonathan Chevreau at the Financial Independence Hub, Susan Williams at Booming Encore, and Paul Long at ProBoomer are transcenders who are making a difference by helping others who are struggling with the many challenges of retirement and they are willing to unselfishly share what they have learned from their own research and experiences.

In summary, some retirement rebels will feel a strong need to actualize their own potential by becoming all that they can be, and that in itself will make them happy. Others will feel a need to do more and pursue goals beyond the self, in favor of service to others.

And some retirement rebels like myself will feel the need to do both.

What type of retirement rebel are you?

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Mike Drak

Author, Retirement Coach and Public Speaker at Victory Lap Retirement
Mike Drak is a thirty-eight year veteran of the financial services and lives with his wife Melina in Toronto, Canada. Mike is the Author of the best-selling book Victory Lap Retirement and also an award winning blogger, retirement coach and public speaker. Mike has also appeared on BNN, CBC Radio and iHeart radio.