Here’s a thing - as a 50 something woman I can honestly say that I am incredibly happy and loving my life. There, I said it.
People comment that I don’t look my age, that I could pass for being a lot younger. I believe that is because I am genuinely happy.
Being happy and actively promoting happiness does not make you popular. If you look at the media happiness is a very small portion of all the stories written. But I sincerely believe that happiness is the number one thing we all strive for. Think back to being young. We were not burdened with responsibilities (or as I now call them excuses). Every day we lived life with energy and enthusiasm looking to laugh, play and learn. That was me, age 5.
And then it is driven out of us – along with the achievement of happiness – as other goals are said to be more important. We know that having more stuff, a bigger house, or the latest thingamajig does not bring happiness long term. Better paying jobs often bring more stress but allow us to acquire more stuff, yet a bigger house, and the latest thingamabob. Again, none of which makes us happy long term.
And some researchers say humans are not designed to be happy – merely to survive and reproduce. I think they missed the point of being human. While it is easy and probably healthy to be cynical about the “Happiness Industry” where snake oil sales-people abound aplenty, if we are not trying to achieve happiness for ourselves (and others) what are we trying to do with our lives?
No - for me, the question is about what makes me happy? And how do I get it? There are challenges, to be sure. I woke this morning feeling tired after another interrupted night’s sleep.
Menopause. As a businesswoman dealing with menopause, life can be stressful and hard to manage, denting your happiness. Keeping up in the workplace when your confidence is low and the brain fog has descended can make you feel useless, vulnerable, and quite frankly old. (You are not by the way). But what you used to do without thinking now takes more effort and time. You see younger people cruising through the day with energy to spare and envy them. When I was growing up I used to think it strange that my parents would sit down in the evening and go to sleep in front of the telly, now that’s me!
The trick here is to change. Particularly change your thinking. As your body changes over time, so too has your knowledge, skills, and life experience, all of which have grown. You know more about life and yourself. So why do the same things you did, 10, 20, or 30 years ago? Life will throw you some new curve balls but there are many opportunities too. Being mid-life does not mean game over. Waiting to retire and the end of life, even if that is the message that is often conveyed in advertising for us midlifers. Do you get fed up with seeing older people with walking aids portrayed as 50 - I do. It certainly isn’t me or my friends. What it does mean is it's time to stop, think, and remake yourself. It is very unlikely that doing the things you did in your twenties will make you happy when you are fifty, so why do them? Time for some new dreams. Time to do the things that you really want to do.
And that is precisely what I did. I walked out of a 25-year career when it became apparent I wasn’t happy, and worse it was making me ill. It took talking to a life coach for me to realise I had choices and opportunities. Yes, hard work lay ahead but a businesswoman was born and I can honestly say that I am happier than ever. Why? Because I have spent time on myself. I have let go of things that I thought I needed but I didn’t. I now look at new clothes and think “do I really need this and will buying it really make me happy”? If not, don’t buy it. Better to buy a plant!
I have achieved a better balance in my life between the things that I have to do and the things that I want to do. I try to ensure that every day I make time for myself and not feel guilty or that I am being selfish. In my professional life, I have become my boss and developed a programme to help other people, like me, to work through their challenges to achieve their happiness. What a great thing it is to laugh, play and learn again. Just as I did when I was 5. I truly believe that we all need fun and happiness in our lives. Like any muscle our happiness needs to be worked on, practiced.
The more we are happy, the better we are in our lives as a whole. It makes our relationships with others easier, it's infectious and it doesn't cost us anything.
It's never too late to start to rediscover, rebuild and restore your happiness and zest for life. The only person who can do it is you. My zest comes from deep within me, just as my happiness does. I choose to be happy. It is helped by doing things I enjoy. Like gardening. As a child, I loved to play in the dirt, make mud pies, and had my little garden that my dad let me grow flowers in. And I am doing the same things now in my 50’s. Delighting in getting my hands dirty, growing things, and watching plants flourish. It also makes me happy to help others, like you, to make a start.
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Happiness - the greatest gift that I possess.