Shortly after we published our book THE NEXT STEP: Planning the Road Though Retirement I spent a very enjoyable lunch with some retirees. When time came to “sing for my lunch” I extolled the virtues and pleasures to be enjoyed from planning your time through retirement, the best years of your life. At question time, the subject of boredom and depression in retirement was raised. I am afraid that my knee jerk reaction was to identify a lack of planning as one major contributing factor to this phenomenon.

On further consideration I realise that, often, depression rises from a clinical and/or psychological source. It acts against a willingness by the victim to take any positive action. This, in turn, leads to a lack of purpose, which ….  and the wheel goes round and round  through life.

I firmly believe that wandering through life without purpose will inevitably lead to both boredom and depression.  Which comes first is irrelevant, they both lead eventually to despair, the same wasteful end. If you find yourself depressed and without purpose then, in the first step, you need to spend some time analysing why you feel this way, and then prepare a plan to address and resolve the situation. If you find this impossible, then you should seek professional advice. I would, however, only look outside myself once I have exhausted the self-healing analysis and resolution plan.

Boredom and depression are common symptom of unhappiness, often brought on by loneliness. They can only be solved through positive action on the part of the sufferer. To me, immediately seeking outside assistance is the easy way out and, as with most things in life, will cost you a lot of money with potentially limited long term benefit.

Depression is, in my opinion, the next step from boredom It is often similar in description but more intrusive in effect.

Through my life I have experienced periods when I have felt alone and lonely in my journey against insuperable odds. My most effective response during this time was to remember that old-fashioned mantra “laughter is the best medicine”.

I determined to try it out. I set my objective as “make at least two of the people I encountered each day laugh”. This meant making contact with people I had never met and did not know, I just needed to make people happier and laughter was the measure by which I achieved this. I succeeded and found that, when I make people laugh I simply have to laugh along with them and, hey presto, this seemed to both lighten my load and offered relief to others.

I feel that there is no better solution to the problem than through the blessing of laughter – even if it is at my own expense. I rationalise this comment by asking myself why I am so important and valuable that I cannot become the object of laughter – if I do I must surely be providing others with light relief and a boost to their day.

In summary we have two effective weapons with which we can challenge all three insidious and malignant problems:

  • Ensure that you identify, and hold very dear, your purpose in the relevant phase of your life. Always have some urge to get out of bed;
  • kick back at the trials and challenges of life;
  • Compare yourself with and others you encounter each day. Try to realise the advantages you have compared with the others you come across; and
  • Smile and laugh at yourself, and with those you love, respect and hold dear.

Never forget that “when we laugh we laugh with others, when we cry we cry alone”. Now go and enjoy what life throws at you – if you look hard enough you will find humour therein.