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What is the ideal age to retire? Never, according to a neuroscientist

By | Daniel Levitin PhD | ideas.ted.com

If you want to live a satisfying, long life, neuroscientist Daniel Levitin has some advice for you: Stay busy.

What is the ideal age to retire?

Never.

Even if you’re physically impaired, it’s best to keep working, either in a job or as a volunteer. Lamont Dozier, the co-writer of such iconic songs as “Heat Wave,” “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Reach Out, I’ll Be There” (and with fourteen number-one Billboard hits), is 78 and still writing.

“I get up every morning and write for an hour or two,” he says. “It’s why the good Lord put me here.”

Too much time spent with no purpose is associated with unhappiness. Stay busy! But not with busy­ work or trivial pursuits, but with meaningful activities. Economists have coined the term unretirement to describe the hordes of people who retire, find they don’t like it, and go back to work. Between 25 and 40 percent of people who retire reenter the workforce.

Harvard University economist Nicole Maestas says, “You hear certain themes: a sense of pur­pose. Using your brain. And another key component is social engagement.

Recall Sigmund Freud’s words that the two most important things in life are to have love and meaningful work. (He was wrong about a great number of things, but he seems to have gotten that quote right.)

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