the act of seeking, retirement woes, and life "pro" tips
Mar 9, 2017
What our friends say.
How can we measure a life well-lived?
Is it the lengthy accolades, prestigious titles, or other formal achievements? Is it the big house, the nice car, or the classy watch? To what end do reaching these goals serve us?
Olivia Goldhill writes, "Nobody’s deepest yearning is to be a decently-salaried professional whose only goal is to get a table at a trendy restaurant.”
Bill Gates didn’t leave Microsoft and go “screw it, I’m just going to sit on this pile of cash and on the world’s leaderboard as the richest person.” He continued to push humanity forward through philanthropy.
Similarly, we don’t just “stop” when we reach a goal. Some of us may recognize the feeling of being “stuck” as one of the worst feelings. Spinning the wheel. Trapped in purgatory.
The good news is that neuroscience shows that the act of seeking itself is more important than reaching the goals. Neuroscientist Jaak Panskepp argues that of "seven core instincts in the human brain (anger, fear, panic-grief, maternal care, pleasure/lust, play, and seeking), seeking is the most important.”
The instinct of seeking releases dopamine to help reward us for exploring our surroundings. In a sense, the monetary outcomes and the personal goals might be viewed as symptoms of our pursuits. Evolution certainly has a funny way of pushing us out of boundaries and rewarding us for it!
Why is retirement such a big deal? It seems kind of strange that society advertises retirement as the end of a journey, where the moment we cross that plane it’s margaritas on the beach and golf on the greens every day. And yet if we’ve ever been to a retirement home…we know that it’s not what it looks like on Google images. Oh the deception!
Instead, consider the option to continue working: “academics who have studied the correlation between health and working into the senior years say this: Work offers a routine and purpose, a reason for getting up in the morning. The workplace is a social environment, a community.”
Nicole Maestas, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, also backs this up by noting that work helps activation of the brain and activation of social networks. Two parts of our identity that keeps us mentally healthy.
Got that friend or co-worker you talk alot about "life" stuff with?