I'm not sure why people ask me about the secrets of happy retirement. Probably because of my former occupation which supposedly qualifies me as a bona fide "wise man", though, if truth be known, I don't know much more than the next guy.
Anyway, I usually give the classic new age reply; "follow your bliss" - but with slightly different wording. Many of my former parishioners advised me during my final year of work, "learn to say "no", then say it. Very good. Very wise. But not always that easy to pull off.
But those are the two principles I have followed in the "golden years". Bliss and thoughtful discipline.
As far as the bliss part is concerned, I have been blessed with several passions that consume my waking moments. Home and family come first, and easily so. Church, of course, remains vital, though I find it easier now to pick and choose when and how I participate. Very nice!
Writing, making pots, cooking good stuff, reading, photography and exercise are consuming passions that jostle each other for a portion of my soul and daily schedule. Not a single one of them fails to create excitement and fascination. They do have to take turns. I'm a bit like a hungry mule standing in a barn between several bales of hay. My chief problem is which bale to nibble on.
As far as the saying "no" is concerned; this is complex. I've never known an activity or a passion yet that didn't want or sometimes demand your whole loyalty. Communities are notorious for claiming to be "family" and setting forth agendas that subtly require one's presence and loyalty. The key guilt producing phrase is "I haven't seen you lately!"
Then, aging itself builds certain demands into one's life. Doctors appointments, forms to be filled out, strategies to be revisited, contacts to be made. Examinations and treatments, of course. Getting old isn't for sissies and one must keep those demands in some kind of balance as well. A huge percentage of one's time can be spent on the whole matter of getting old!
Balancing the positives and negatives. Keeping a sweet spirit while coping with the reality of life's negatives. Living with other people's expectations without losing one's soul. Being able to converse with people without fixating on one's health problems. Staying out of arguments about politics, even when you have strong political leanings. These are just a few of the elder's challenges.
Then, sometimes we just get tired.
Oddly, I've found these days to be the happiest of my lifetime. Appreciating the past, enjoying the present and joyfully anticipating what comes next, whatever that may be - that's the best I can do with the aging riddle.