Beauty is what emanates from the inside out and lights a person up. Have you ever noticed, for example, how falling in love causes that glow? That’s not just magic; it’s science.
The inner glow of happiness is caused by a cascade of brain chemicals: dopamine, norepinephrine, and phenylenthylamine, to name a few. This cascade of neurotransmitters causes a person to brim with vitality that’s visible to all.
Falling in love triggers the cascade, but that’s not the only trigger. Discovering new interests, finding something that excites you, and focusing on an activity to the point where you are in “flow” all stimulate the release of dopamine. This connection between the flow of brain chemicals and the feeling and look of youthful vitality are super important (and hopeful) for those of us who are thinking about retirement or who are in the midst of that big life transition.
Retirement as an extended vacation will not do the trick, meaning it won’t switch on the dopamine and exciting cascade of neurotransmitters that make you glow. Relaxation and pleasure are important, but those aren’t the activities that light you up. No matter how much make-up you apply or how many nips and tucks you endure, if the light from the inside isn’t glowing, the eyes aren’t bright and the skin doesn’t flush. That’s why retirement is a transition that requires more than leisure and pleasure.
So, seek experiences that have meaning, claim new roles that are purpose-full, take on challenges that scare you a bit, fail at something and live to tell the tale. The result? Hello, glow!
Here’s a way to point yourself towards the kind of activities that will trigger your dopamine flow. The VIA Institute on Character has developed a fun and simple survey that asks you many questions that help to determine what character traits are your strongest ones. It will list 24 key traits in the order in which they manifest in you. You may be surprised!
Once you have determined the four to five traits that are specifically strong in you, sit down and think up 10 activities that engage those traits in a way that will trigger the neurotransmitters. If you can think of one or two activities that engage all five traits, you’ve hit pay dirt—not to mention a new level of radiance!
It’s never too late. Take a look at beautiful Täo Porchon-Lynch, a 98-year-old yoga teacher. In her sixties after the death of her husband, she recommitted herself to a yoga practice, and after that her new career took flight. I don’t think I’m very far out on a limb when I say that I am sure she was clustering her character strengths. She is an inspiring woman whose light glows from her eyes.
Don’t just retire. Reinspire your life! Reboot your interests and dreams. Kick on that dopamine! Life Reinspired
You may also enjoy…
Photo illustration left to right: Sabrina Roblin, CPCC; Katherine Olivetti, MA, MSSW; Caroline Hall, MA, PCC.