My summer vacation last week to visit family in Minnesota was not only a chance to contemplate my upcoming lifestyle changes, but also rethink the whole idea of what leisure time means.  In my mind, happiness is a sense of fulfillment and personal meaning, not “leisure” in the traditional sense.  Lying around reading glossy magazines (or the equivalent) holds very little appeal to me.  In this sense, my synopsis of full time studenthood to friends and family as a trial run for retirement (while obviously tongue-in-cheek) began to strike me with a bit of discomfort.  Retirement has both romanticized and derogatory connotations.  Does it even exist outside its mythical constructs as part of the “American Dream?”

Along these lines, J.D. Roth at Get Rich Slowly recently wrote an article on the shifting definitions of retirement.  Does it mean Financial Independence and the freedom from reliance on a paycheck, or does it mean the ability to engage in Flow-driven activities based on personal proclivities and dreams? In the sense that we are all seeking happiness (and if indeed happiness is defined by a sense of personal fulfillment) then the commonly accepted definition of retirement as ceasing one’s working life at the age of 65 seems like a true recipe for depression, most likely related to the anecdotes we hear so often about depressed and self-destructive lottery winners.