Who knows? This could have been an overheard conversation at any office water cooler:

James: Hey John, I'm retiring next month.

John: Congratulations, man. This will be the beginning of the rest of your life.

James (to himself): Whoa. Why did I open my mouth? Is John saying he thinks I am going to die or something?

SAY YOU ARE James. How does John's message of congratulations really come across? Isn't retirement a scary word for most folks? Doesn't it conjure feelings of anxiety and depression, anticipation or relief?

If you are scientifically curious about this word, and want to try a quick experiment, find a small group of people to approach and start talking about retirement, watching and listening for individual reactions.

Maybe one person smiles or offers encouragement with up and down head nods. Is anyone checking their watch or inspecting their fingernails? Picking lint on their sweater or stroking their chin while looking at you?

In this social science experiment, most would observe a range of reactions, positive and negative, since retirement is often seen as a mixed blessing; most of us perceive both good and bad aspects regarding this final stage in life - some try to avoid the word altogether, while others jump right in, yacking away about fishing trips, cruises and other typical retirement banter.

What really is it that most working people want or expect to experience when they finally stop formally working and shift daily activities to doing something very different for the rest of their lives?

How do most of us feel about our retirement future?

Wellness, activity, sufficient financial resources, and more time to spend with family and friends are thoughts that often pop into many people's heads when building retirement lists.

What words fill your head?

Travel, camping, fishing, snoozing? Maybe reading, writing, working part time, cooking, experimenting, browsing online? Sleeping, exercising or moving away to another country?

Of course, even though problems like these occur for so many reasons, certainly no good retirement bucket list would include wishes for poor health, sitting around with nothing to do, not having enough money to travel (or eat), topped off by feeling depressed, anxious or lonely.

One New Mexico retiree, Frank D., who worked on a manufacturing line for 45 years before retiring, says he keeps such problems at bay "mostly because I am in good health and don't have financial worries."

Psychologist and researcher Francis D. Glamser, Ph.D., writing for the Journal of Gerontology, finds that a positive attitude toward retirement for working class folks results from their realistic appraisal of the type of retirement experience which he can expect (1976, Vol. 31, No. 1, 104-107).

Frank's attitude supports Glamser's findings. "Because I am physically and mentally well, I am active, and I can be around friends and family--wellness fights off so many potential problems, like seclusion and depression, as well as new financial worries. I always expected to have a good retirement," Frank says.

So how does one get there, feeling positive about retirement? Frank believes his wellness is a critical key, and that it is boosted by the use of several nontraditional (alternative) healing practices-Reiki, massage and acupuncture.

While Frank has strong ideas about such healing experiences, the notion of alternative medicine is still very new to others. Generally, such treatments are based on historical or cultural traditions, rather than scientific evidence, and many are practiced world-wide with countless supporting stories by those who are helped. Today, even some major hospitals and medical clinics offer such alternative treatments.

First mentioned, Reiki (pronounced ray'-key), is a Japanese technique used for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. Those who use Reiki describe it as an unseen "life force energy" that flows through all living beings; if a person's life force energy is low, they are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, they are more likely to be happy and healthy, Reiki practitioners say.

REIKI IS NOT taught in the usual sense, but is transferred to the student during a Reiki class during what is called an "attunement" given by a Reiki master, allowing students to tap into "life force energy" to pass on to others during treatments. While undergoing Reiki, the person receiving attunements might lie on a Reiki table or sit in a chair. Some Reiki is even done via telephone or long distance via thought.

Reiki is spiritual in nature, but it is not a religion. There is nothing to believe in order to learn and use Reiki. Dr. Mikao Usui, Reiki's founder, asked his students to promote peace and harmony, nearly universal across all cultures.

Frank likes Reiki so much, that he has considered becoming a practitioner himself, and making some extra retirement income on the side. Like massage and acupuncture, treatments typically cost clients about $60 per session, but can range higher in more metropolitan or tourist areas.

Massage, Frank's second choice, involves working and acting on the body with pressure - usually manually but sometimes with mechanical aids. Target tissues may include muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, skin, joints, or other connective tissue, as well as lymphatic vessels, or organs of the gastrointestinal system.

Frank lies on a massage table, draped with towels, for his treatment but massage therapy patients may also sit in a massage chair and remain clothed. Most states in the US have licensing requirements for massage therapists, while Reiki practitioners are usually not required to be licensed.

Frank has also spent time with an acupuncturist who treats him by manipulating thin, solid needles inserted into acupuncture points in the skin. Using traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncturists stimulate these points to correct imbalances in the flow of qi (chee) through channels known as meridians. Frank's acupuncturist is licensed in the state of New Mexico; most states have this requirement.

Does announcement at the water cooler of one's impending retirement translate as the end of life? Not for the retiree who works at maintaining a physically and mentally positive attitude - and who takes in a little Reiki, massage or acupuncture, too -- Frank and many others believe.
To arrange for Susan Klopfer to speak to your organization on successful retirement, contact her at http://susanklopfer.com

Author's Bio: 

Susan Klopfer, blogger, author and speaker,is an Oregon native currently residing in New Mexico. She is a graduate of Hanover College in communication and holds an MBA degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. She writes on retirement, diversity and civil rights issues.