10 Ways to Increase Your Happiness in Midlife and Beyond
According to Jonathan Rauch’s book The Happiness Curve, it’s common for individuals in their 40s and 50s to be ranked as some of the unhappiest people!
WOW?? When you read that do you agree? Do you feel like you were happier before you hit midlife? And if you’re over 60 do you feel like you’ve regained your happiness since getting past that midlife hump?
I’ll be honest, I’ve always considered myself happy. I mean I feel happier and less stressed now then I remember feeling in my 30s!!
A struggling marriage, living paycheck to paycheck, 3 kids under 10, a busy schedule, trying to navigate adulthood . . . it sucked!! I feel that life is “easier” now. My kiddos are older, marriage is in a good place, financial stability, I think I kind of have a handle on how to be a successful adult. So why are we so unhappy in midlife?
There are many things that can contribute to these feelings. According to Rauch it can be the new pressures this age group is dealing with, like working while raising older children, paying for college, caring for aging parents, or feeling unsatisfied.
It is very common for women in this stage of their life to feel an increase of anxiety or depression.
Did you know that women from age 40-60 have some of the highest rates of depression?
Depression really is a significant concern in midlife. And add in menopause to the mix and life can be truly challenging for some women.
Perimenopausal depression is a type of depression unique to women and can be intensified by our fluctuating levels of estrogen.
You may not feel like you are depressed, I like to say I feel blue at times. I definitely notice that my mood can dip pretty low, even though I feel like I’m living my best life most of the time!!
This new season can be complicated to say the least!!
You may notice you often feel a roller coaster of emotions. Highs and lows. Maybe asking yourself more often “Where has the time gone?”
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one feeling this way!
I 100% love my life. I love the people I’m surrounded by, I’m grateful for what I have and what I have accomplished, yet I still struggle with feelings of “is this it?” Am I meant for more? Time is running out and I haven’t really done anything yet!!
Do any of these resonate with you?
Feeling unfulfilled in life
Intense feelings of nostalgia, chronic reminiscence about the past
Feelings of boredom, emptiness and meaninglessness
Impulsive, often rash actions
Dramatic changes in behavior and appearance
Marital infidelity or constant thoughts about infidelity
Constantly comparing oneself to others, who seem happier or more fulfilled
Intense feelings of regret
This could be a sign that you too are starting to feel that dip.
And this is exactly why it's so important for us to take care of ourselves and prioritize happiness whenever possible.
Feeling happy can require a little work and that’s okay because you sis are worth the time and effort. It will take self awareness, self discovery and a little reflection - but while this may be work, it can also be fun to see what more you have to offer the world in this new season!
Midlife is not just about purchasing a new sexy car or cutting your hair and trying out a new look!! (I mean it can - more power to you girlfriend).
Things are changing; your body, your hormones, your lifestyle, and even your relationships.
Call it a midlife crisis, midlife transition, or a midlife unraveling!! But whatever you call it, it’s typically a time when you begin wondering what you’ve done with your life.
Are you living the life you’ve always wanted to live? Are you successful by your own definition of success? What is your purpose? Do you even know?
So where should you start?
Simple - you need to define happiness!
What does happiness mean to you?
Does it mean having control? Being bold and brave? Trying new things? Step out of your comfort zone?
Does it mean focusing on your health? Pouring back into your relationships or your community?
This is your caterpillar to butterfly moment ~> embrace it!
10 Ways to Find Happiness in Midlife and Beyond
#1 Normalize it. Now when I say normalize I mean understand it's common to feel this way, BUT that doesn't mean I’m saying accept it!
What I want you to do is acknowledge it. Sit with it. What is making you feel this way? This is a perfect opportunity for that reflection and that self discovery.
Maybe you're simply stuck in a rut . Take this opportunity to mix it up a little. Try something new. Take up a new hobby, learn a new skill or venture out to new places.
This is a great time to embrace these new changes in our life and try things you've never tried before. Pursuing new interests that you’ve put off for so long. Dream big sis and go for it!!
This takes us to #2 Notice what brings you joy and do more of it!! This is the perfect time to spend pouring into YOU! Now that the kiddos are older, you’ve got a little more money in the bank, and there’s more “free time” on your calendar - go do the things you’ve always wanted.
#3 Take it one day at a time! Small steps lead to big accomplishments. So, instead of going balls out trying to do overhaul on your whole life, think about small changes that can lead to an increase in your happiness.
Make a list of things you would like to improve that will help increase the joy you get out of life, then focus on one at a time. Once you’ve mastered that first one, move on to the next. Trying to do too much is not the way to find more happiness, just more stress!
Don’t know where to start - let’s chat and get you starting off on the right foot!
#4 Be present by practicing mindfulness. I know that term is thrown around everywhere now-a-days, but there really is a reason why mindfulness works!
Mindfulness is just about being present. Enjoying the moment.
There are so many ways to be mindful. I like to tell people to start by ditching the electronics! They’re distracting and let’s be honest they are not only energy suckers but happiness suckers!!
Mindfulness can be practiced by incorporating yoga, tai chi, or mediation into your day. It can be a walk or a hike enjoying the sounds of nature.
The goal with mindfulness is to turn off all the noise, the self-judgment, to decrease feelings of anxiousness, and to experience more positive emotions.
Another way to practice focusing on more positive things in your life to help decrease those feelings of anxiousness or self judgement is by #5 journaling or practicing daily gratitude. Being thankful even when life isn't going as planned is one way to help increase our happiness levels.
Happiness in life depends on your perspective. Choosing joy each day by recognizing small things you are grateful for is one way to help increase that glass half full mentality.
Another way is to #6 Ditch the Comparison Game. We are wired to want more, but sometimes disappointment sinks in when we find ourselves comparing our achievements to others’ achievements and feeling like we failed. This is just a recipe for disaster.
Listen, Becky’s life on Instagram is just her highlight reel! No one is showing what reality really looks like. I mean even reality TV is scripted! Stop comparing your life to others. This is your journey! It’s not meant to look or feel like anyone else's! So don’t worry about Suzy’s weight loss post, or Tina’s vacation photos. You focus on YOU. You focus on what matters to YOU. You focus on finding the joy in YOUR journey!
A great way to do that is to surround yourself with great people that want to see you win and will support you when you don’t!! This is a great time to ditch the toxic people in your life and #7 Make new friends. Having a close circle of friends can do wonders for not only your mental health but also your physical health!!
Midlife and our new found free time can be a good time to reconnect with old friends you’ve missed and make new friends.
I know it’s hard to make new friends, the best place to start in your own community. Group fitness classes, hobby groups, local Facebook groups, or just asking a friend to lunch and encouraging them to bring a friend. Be the one that invites people to sit at your table!! The mean girls thing was so last decade!!
#8 Embrace a More Growth Mindset. Midlife can leave us feeling less confident. It’s easy to feel inadequate with the world changing so fast around us. But here’s the good thing about being a strong woman in midlife . . . you are never out of the game! You are never too old to grow, to learn, to develop new skills, try new things and redefine who you are as an individual!
We are no longer stuck in a box. Midlife is a great time to reinvent yourself. Use the power of having a growth mindset to challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and regain that confidence!
#9 Make Your Health a Top Priority. Looking after yourself is so important right now! You have a lot going on. Your body is going through A LOT of changes and this is a time we need to be kind to our bodies. Giving it a little grace and patience.
Getting current blood work should be a top priority. Making time for movement should be a daily practice. Eating to bless your body. Creating a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to maintain a high quality of life, as well as lower your risk of dementia and other chronic health problems such as heart disease. When you feel good on the inside your happiness increases dramatically!!
If you need help getting started with proper nutrition, positive mindset, or daily movement . . . please book a call and let’s chat.
#10 Set Boundaries. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to not to volunteer. It’s okay to tell your kiddos you can’t watch the baby every Friday night. It’s okay to tell your friend that her constant negative talk is affecting your health. It’s okay to set boundaries with people.
One of my favorite things about being older - self confidence! And having a "I no longer give a shit what people think" attitude.
Okay that’s not entirely true I do care what some people think, but never everyone!!
I’m okay with telling people no, that it no longer serves me. I’m okay with telling people no, I don’t have the time in my schedule for that. I’m okay with telling people they are done taking advantage of my generosity.
I’m also okay with say YES! I’d love to.
It’s perfectly acceptable to set healthy boundaries with people in your life. Including your parents, your partner, your kiddos, your coworkers, your boss, and your BFF. And it’s okay to ask them how to best honor their boundaries.
Talk about creating more happiness in your life!! This is one area you will literally feel a weight lift off your shoulders.
So there you go . . . I’d love to hear from YOU. Which one do you think you would want to implement starting today? Do you have any tips you’d add to the list? I’d love to hear it! Please share with our community of ladies - this is what makes midlife so great . . . our profound wisdom that comes with age!