Your Midlife Pursuit of Happiness
Midlife Pursuit #1: Increase Happiness
Is it just me or is “happiness” a new buzzword? It definitely goes along with the whole “self care” movement. I don’t know if it’s because I’m looking for it or just that it actually is a “hot topic” right now, but lately, I’ve been hearing about happiness everywhere. That’s not a bad thing, at all!
Now that I’ve gotten a few blog posts under my belt (written and published), I decided to start a series of posts called, none other than…Midlife Pursuits. How appropriate, right?
I’ve started the series with Happiness, because one of the things that oftentimes gets lost in the day-to-day crap is our own happiness. As mothers, we frequently “lose ourselves” or any focus on ourselves because we are always taking care of other people and things. Our own happiness gets put on the back burner.
When we get to midlife, we start thinking more about our own happiness.”
So we want to increase happiness, but WHY now?
When we get to midlife, around 40 or so, we start thinking about our own happiness because, for one thing, that empty nest is right around the corner. So, for some of us who are as mothers, we wonder, “what will I do after the kids leave?”
If I don’t have to make their appointments, remind them to get up, prepare their meals, do their laundry, attend their events, follow up with them on their homework or chores, what will my life consist of?
And, as we have less on our minds, less to do’s taking up space, we have time to wonder about our lives and time to think about what life is all about, what’s important to us, what makes us happy.
As time goes by, and we get older, we starting thinking about our happiness, because, well, time is going by. We think, “it’s now or never.” Time is running out (it’s not really). All those things we thought we would get to “someday” are now looming in the forefront of our minds.
Ok, now is the time to pursue our own happiness. (There is no reason to wait until midlife, but many of us do.)
So we want to pursue more happiness, but WHAT is happiness?
I clearly remember saying, “I want to be happy,” when someone would ask me what I wanted to be or do when I grew up. And, I know for my children, I’ve always said “I just want them to be happy.” I have learned that being happy isn’t just a sunny day at the beach. It’s not having no bad days.
A sunny day at the beach is an experience of pleasure, but it is not happiness. Winning a championship game with a close score is an experience of exhilaration, but it is not happiness. Seeing your favorite band in concert is a feeling of excitement, but it is not happiness.
Some synonyms that google provides are contentment, pleasure, satisfaction, joyfulness, well-being, carefreeness, and light-heartedness, among others.
Happiness International tells us that “happiness is when your life fulfills your needs.” Therefore, happiness is different for everyone.
Ok, so HOW do we increase happiness (ensure that our life fulfills our needs)?
We all want to increase our happiness, right? Of course. But do we actually seek out ways to make this happen? I believe that our happiness increases when we take care of, and are kind to, ourselves. But, do we take the time to practice self care? Not as much as we should.
For many years, I was unfulfilled and although I feel like I had a lot of good in my life, I wasn’t “happy” per se. I was diagnosed with depression.
My doctor prescribed a variety of different antidepressants and things were “ok,” but I never felt like “oh wow, I feel great!” I went to group counseling and I mostly enjoyed the process, but I never felt like I got to the point of, “wow, this is really helping!”
I was sure there was no quick fix or magic anything that would increase my happiness.
Science tells us that there are some things that we need in order to promote happiness. Lack of these things will lead to a physical imbalance, which causes irregular functioning, mood swings, a lack of energy, less ability to focus/concentrate, etc.
Things like eating a well-balanced diet, getting regular exercise, sleeping enough, interacting with loved ones and friends, getting outside or getting sunlight, and limiting stress.
But to me, these all seemed like too much. Too much time, too much effort, too much planning. And results were not immediate, even if I did try a workout routine, take walks, or implement a diet. Nothing got me to a point where I would feel good enough that I would want to continue to put forth the effort or devote more time.
Fast forward to today – my happiness has increased and I know yours can too!
Within the last few years, I realize that I have found much more fulfillment, which has lead to a huge increase in my happiness. No, it wasn’t overnight or some quick fix, but it definitely has happened!
I’m going to share my “formula” for increasing happiness in my next post, which will be available in a week!
Read Part 2 of this post (how to increase your happiness), or take a break and brainstorm some ways that you can improve your happiness today.
Share your ideas in the comments so we can support and learn from one another as we pursue happiness during these midlife years.