Joyful Musings

By Joy Birnbach Dunstan, MA, LPC, MAC

Living Life on Purpose


We’re so lucky living here in Paradise! But for some, paradise has left them floundering for structure and purpose.

Retirement is a different experience for everybody. Some people would gladly work here but cannot get a permit from the Mexican government for their particular occupation. Others would be happy to continue their old job if only they could do it long distance from south of the border. Some people yearn for the collegial atmosphere of the workplace, but not the actual work. And many people are thrilled to never again do whatever they did before, but they have no idea what they’d rather do instead.

Seemingly positive changes like retirement and increased leisure time can create confusion or depression. Many people adjust, quickly filling their days with rewarding activities. For others, the transition is more difficult. For those who defined themselves by their job, they may find themselves temporarily lost without that identity. So create an intentional alternate identity for yourself by pursuing activities that express your true self. Do like Dolly Parton suggests, and “find out who you are...and do it on purpose!”

In retirement, we can choose what we do with our heart instead of the budget in mind because working and receiving money are no longer directly related. We can select what we’d like to do. Work is no longer what we have to do and play what we want to do. Our work and our play can become one.

Retirement is the perfect time to “go for the flow.” Flow is a concept defined as a state of deep absorption that occurs when people are thoroughly focused on a challenging task that meshes perfectly with their abilities, interests, and strengths. You may have experienced flow sometime when hours disappeared like minutes while you were completely absorbed in some engrossing activity. Consider enriching your own life by learning new skills and increasing the challenges you face each day.

It’s important to have goals. Goals give us a reason to get up in the morning. If you’d like to bring more happiness into your life, consider the wise words of Helen Keller: “Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”

Life is about more than pedicures and cocktail parties. Give some thought to what things bring you joy or might bring a satisfying sense of accomplishment, and then make a plan to do them. People pursuing dreams in their mind and heart are already on the road to success. Take five minutes to list all the wants you have in our life, your “bucket list.” Then circle your top five choices and prioritize them, and begin to consider how to make them happen.

If you find yourself not wanting to face the new day because it’s just the same as the previous one, consider developing new interests or exploring pursuits you didn’t have time for in the past. One of the treasures of Lakeside living is the multitude of options we have available here. There’s something for every taste and style, from the solely intellectual to the purely hedonistic, from highly structured organizations to no-commitment, drop-in activities. If it’s something more exotic or extravagant you’ve always wanted to try, budget a little every week to help make that dream possible. Go for the flow, and you just might discover an artistic streak or unexpected talent you never knew you had!

Editor’s Note: Joy is a practicing psychotherapist in Riberas. She can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 765-4988

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Joyful Musings By Joy Birnbach DunstanA Book Review by Victoria Schmidt   Joyful Musings is a collection of vignettes from the life of Lakeside
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