The tee shirts are right. “Life is good.” They are also right in not proclaiming “Life is easy.” Or even worse “Easy is good.” A good life is not easy–at least not all the time.
More to the point, easy is not always good.
It’s important to keep these distinctions in mind once you start looking at retirement. A good life is not a matter of finding the easy way to get through each of those leisurely days.
If you compare the two words in the thesaurus, they aren’t even close. Synonyms for “good” are things like respectable, honorable, decent, honest, kind, stable, obedient, etc.(That list goes on and on.) Words listed as synonyms for “easy” are leisurely, simple, and lenient. “Easy” lets you off the hook. “Good” puts you on it.
But we’re encouraged to take to heart the notion that “easy is good” once we are ready to retire. Please don’t. Easy is not good. Easy, especially for a retired person, is death.
Use it or lose it is a very real phenomenon. It’s easier not to climb stairs–but when you don’t, there goes muscle mass you could have kept and aerobic exercise you really need to keep your vitality. It’s easier to watch TV than go out and meet new people. But TV doesn’t stimulate you cerebral cortex and talking to others, or even better, learning something new with them, does. Being engaged in a community of some sort helps ward off everything from Alzheimer’s to depression.
But we still feel gyped when we don’t have it easy after we retire. We want “easy” when we hook up the TV, DVD, or whatever electronic device currently has us buffaloed. What we really need is the challenge we’re trying to shirk. We expect “easy” when we shop and “easy” when we transact personal business. We get irate when things aren’t easy.
We want to believe we are entitled to “easy.” That is like insisting we are entitled to smoking a pack a day. Easy is not good for us.
And good is not easy. That’s why it’s so satisfying when you pull it off.
Give yourself the gift that keeps on giving. Don’t let your life be easy. It means you’re sitting on the sidelines letting your brain cells die and the rest of your body atrophy.
Life is good. But–if you want to be good to yourself–it should not be easy.
Mary Lloyd is a speaker and consultant and author of Supercharged Retirement: Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love. For more, see her website.