Every month, Elements Retirement chief Chiou See Anderson explores the secrets of aging well and the Ikigai framework. This month, she speaks with resident Eric Johansen about his attitude toward the element – “Be happy: Smile”. 

CSA: How old are you and how old do you feel?

EJ: Well, I am 75 years old, but I do not feel it, so maybe I am just lucky although who knows how you should feel at any given age. There is a song in a recent Clint Eastwood movie titled “Don’t let the old man in”.  I think that may be the secret.

CSA: Assuming you say that you feel 35, what is the secret to your youthfulness?

EJ: I really do not think too much about ageing because I have plenty of things to do, although this covid year has changed some of the plans we have made.  We have had travel plans altered a few times this year, so I have learned to roll with the punches and get on with life. I try to keep as active as possible, and I have plenty of positive people around me. That is probably the most important thing you can do to get the best out of life.

CSA: Does your experience of being a Vietnam veteran put things into perspective for you? Did it teach you not to sweat the small stuff?  Or were you simply born optimistic?

EJ: You ask about being a Vietnam Veteran and its effect on me.   Thinking about it then yes, it has had a major impact on me. I worked in a Post Office before being called up for National Service in 1966. After returning from Vietnam, I returned to the Post Office but was very unsettled. I just could not see myself staying there until retirement.   I certainly wanted more out of life.  I had a couple of jobs in the motor industry, and I enjoyed the industry and the better pay, but I was still looking for something extra, so we made a big decision and that was to move to Queensland. A great decision that we have never regretted for a minute.

CSA: You are an active bloke. Do you think being active has kept you positive and happy?

EJ: I have always been an active person and an inquisitive one, always keen to learn. I am sure that that has helped me to stay positive. I still get up early and walk for at least a couple of kilometres every morning.   Living at Elements so close to the Daisy Hill Forest and Koala Centre makes it enjoyable. 

CSA: What do you think is your reason for being (existence/purpose)

EJ: I really cannot say what my reason for being is other than to live the best life I can and to try and make a difference to the people around me in a positive way.

CSA: What do you think is your unique gift that you were born with and maybe got better at?

EJ: I have been incredibly lucky in my working life and have met and interacted with some good people. I guess this has always kept a smile on my face and hopefully, I have put a smile on other faces also.

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