The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered, "Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."
Former engineer and American academic Sing Lin argues that working past the age of 55 will kill you more quickly. His conclusion is that, for every year one works beyond age 55, one loses two years of life span on average.
In his paper, Optimum Strategies for Creativity and Longevity published in 2002, Sing Lin quoted a study undertaken by Dr. Ephrem (Siao Chung) Cheng on the number of pension cheques sent to retirees of Boeing Aerospace.
Early retirees live longer
Cheng found that, on average, people who retired at the age of 55 would live until the age of 86. However, people who retired at the age of 65 would only live on average for a further 18 months!
Sing Lin argues in his paper that "hard-working late retirees probably put too much stress on their ageing body and mind… [so] developed various serious health problems that forced them to quit and retire. With such long-term, stress-induced, serious health problems, they die within two years after they retire.
"On the other hand, people who take early retirements at the age of 55 tend to live well into their 80s and beyond."
Early retirees are better prepared
Before you run to your boss and hand in your resignation, Sing Lin made several other observations as to why early retirees lived longer:
- Earlier retirees are probably either wealthier or more able to plan and manage their lives, health and careers, so they can afford to retire early and comfortably.
- These early retirees are not sitting around watching daisies grow; they continue doing some work and earning an income. The only difference is that they work on a part-time basis at a more leisurely pace so that they do not get stressed out.
- They also have the luxury to choose work of real interest to them that they can enjoy doing.
This would suggest that it is retirement planning that actually leads to a longer and healthier lifestyle. If you have not made provision for retirement, or you are not in a financial position to work fewer hours, then the combination of financial stress and work-related stress may well kill you early!
Article continues on page two: critisism of this study, finding your niche and making practical decisions (who can retire at 55 anyway?) about retirement...