How To Find Happiness In Your 50’s
Looking For Ideas To Help You Find Your Happy Place?
Are you trying to find your happy place? If you are a midlife woman looking to find happiness within, I wrote this just for you!
It’s normal to feel discouraged about your happiness level. Most women struggle at some point in their lives to connect with their own idea of happiness.
The older I get, the more important it is to me to choose happiness as often as possible. When I was younger, I didn’t understand that choosing happiness can affect every part of our lives.
We Might Need Help Finding Happiness As We Get Older
Some people might think it sounds selfish to want happiness, I get it! But as a trained Marriage and Family therapist, I have learned that happiness does matter! A woman’s happiness level affects her professional life, her personal life and her family life.
Join me as I share some simple ideas that will help you fill your happiness tank. Let’s move the needle from empty to full! Ready?
Before we get started, you have to agree to give yourself permission to be happy. I know that sounds really simple and “duh, basic” but for many women the idea of allowing happiness is threatening.
Is It Selfish To Want To Be Happy?
If you can’t give yourself full permission to be happy, how about you decide to let yourself think about being happy? If you don’t know what would make you happy, spend time with this question: What might make me just a little happier?
You don’t need a carved in stone answer, just let your mind wander about what might help you feel more happiness in your life.
For many women, midlife brings an urge to reassess their lives and their happiness level. This means letting go of outdated notions of what happiness “should” look like and instead creating a new definition that works for them.
Making Changes In Midlife Could Lead To Happiness
Making changes might mean pursuing a new career path or starting a business, or something as simple as taking up a hobby that brings joy and fulfillment. The point is that success doesn’t have to be about money or status; it can be about doing something meaningful and finding joy in it.
For some women, the way to find your happy place might require some intentional thinking about your life.
Go Ahead, Make Yourself Happy
Have you ever had someone say to you ” Make yourself happy”?
Usually, it is said after a disagreement or some type of conflict. Rarely is it said in a supportive or neutral tone. Often the idea of making ourselves happy is paired with the suggestion that if we make ourselves happy it is selfish. Or somehow, our happiness will make others unhappy.
So, let’s talk about making ourselves happy, because it is a bit more complicated than it should be!
Sometimes It’s Hard To Find Happiness
Does it seem hard to make yourself happy? Many of us would answer yes to that question. Let’s think about it in a different way, why is it difficult to allow yourself to be happy?
Happiness is uniquely defined by each individual, but for some women, finding happiness is like catching soap bubbles with a baseball mitt. Awkward and close to impossible!
Do You Know How To Make Yourself Happy?
I have a question: Why does it seem like women are experts in making everyone happy, except themselves? We are born with a magic happiness wand that we are compelled to wave over our loved ones, our co-workers, the people in our neighborhood… you get the idea. But somehow that happiness wand runs out of fairy dust when we pick it up for ourselves!
As a midlife woman, do you wonder how to make yourself happy? Do you feel like you lost your way to self-fulfillment and joy? Most of my earlier life, I was convinced that happiness was not for me.
My Story: I Was Afraid To Make Myself Happy
I had taken in the message that I couldn’t be a good person and a happy person. Making myself happy somehow made me suspicious about my life purpose. I grew up in a home that didn’t talk about happiness, but focused on taking care of other peoples needs.
It Was More Important To Make Other People Happy
Circumstances and choices had convinced me that the price tag of others happiness was my unhappiness. Or explained another way: Their happiness > my happiness. Can anyone relate?
I had backed myself into a tight corner of miserable! When I thought about getting out of that tight corner, I had an automatic default of reasons and excuses to keep me in that space. My mindset was based in fear and regret, not strength and personal power.
And then, at the edge of a health crisis, I was forced to change. I had to address my physical issues before I ended up in a long-term health battle. The short story is I slowly began to make changes, first in my health, and then I embarked on a long wandering journey toward personal happiness.
To be truthful, I had an easier time fixing my health issues than changing my self-defeating emotions and mindset!
Some Reasons Why You Might Struggle To Be Happy
At this point in human history, we are aware of the social conditioning that women typically undergo as a response to their gender. To be fair, men have social conditioning as well.
Most men were raised with the limiting belief that boys don’t cry, and as a result we have generations of men that don’t show emotion. Thankfully, that is slowly changing in our Western culture.
Research shows us that women are more influenced by the perceived needs of others in relationships. Ladies will often take action to keep the peace, provide stability or support their loved ones at the expense of their emotional and physical well-being. Being a connected and supportive mom is a gift to your family, but we tend to deny our needs to serve those around us.
Women Are More Committed To Helping Other People Be Happy
Admittedly, this genetic/conditioned response is super handy when you are raising kids! Studies show the more responsive the parent, the healthier the child. Called Attachment Theory; it can help us understand our emotional responses to security and love.
Parental responsiveness and the resulting security of the child is a complex issue. Read this for a basic understanding on attachment theory, it is fascinating stuff!
Okay, putting aside the basic psychology lesson, how do we, as women, begin to take steps to make ourselves happy?
Take The First Step To Finding Your Happy Place
The first step is this: Give yourself permission to be happy.
This is so basic, and yet that is the very reason we struggle with it. As women, we are conditioned to look around us and gauge the level of “happy” in other people. If we perceive they are lacking “happy”, we feel compelled to fix it. In our efforts to help them create their “happy”, we run out of energy, time and emotions to make ourselves happy.
Does that sound familiar? Are you in last place on your “people to make happy” list? With limited energy and life demands, it’s common for women to ignore their own happiness. Sometimes this behavior can be called “over-functioning”.
Midlife Women Might Be Guilty Of Over Functioning
Over-functioning is when we take on the needs of others in an effort to control the outcome. The result is that other people get taken care of and we end up resentful and exhausted.
A great reflection question might be: do I have a pattern of over-functioning in my life? How much time and energy do I give to others to help them be “happy?” Do my commitments to others cause me to neglect my own needs?
By turning our focus on others, we can avoid our own negative emotions that might be too uncomfortable or anxious to consider.
Over-Functioning Can Decrease Our Happiness
Some examples of over-functioning would be:
- Saying yes when you want to say no
- Skipping your workout/exercise class to run an errand for someone else.
- Offering your limited free time to help someone outside of your home complete a household chore.
- Always being available to provide childcare/carpool for other families.
- Not requiring capable children to do family chores, i.e. laundry, dishes, dog care, cleaning tasks.
- Ignoring your internal resentment when you are constantly interrupted during your day
- Not setting boundaries to preserve your time and physical energy.
- Believing that it is easier to do it yourself than to wait for someone else to do it.
There is another potential reason it might be difficult for you to make the choice to allow happiness. It is called co-dependency, and it can be an invisible, yet rigid set of behaviors.
Co-dependency Can Affect Your Happiness
Sometimes behavior that is super focused on others is known as co-dependency. Usually a person who struggles with co-dependency has been raised in a home that had secrets, often hidden parental addictions or their parents were very unreliable. They learn to please others to stay safe and get their needs met.
Maybe you were raised in a family environment that had someone who needed extra attention or was very demanding. As a result, it feels normal to spend all your emotional energy trying to fix other people’s problems. Unfortunately, the long term result is that you have been trained to ignore your own emotional needs!
Fixing Other People’s Problems Helps You Ignore Your Problems
The funny thing about co-dependency is that is “hides” out in the open. Behaviors that are intended to be helpful end up feeling controlling and at times, suffocating. It is very common for a co-dependent person to have a hidden desire to control how other people think about them.
Being overly helpful might be a subconscious attempt to avoid your own problems by helping to solve other folks’ problems. Often co-dependent people end up disconnected from their own problems, but very involved in the problems/solutions of those they care about.
Sometimes We Need To Support Other People
Is it possible that you are co-dependent? Sure, it’s possible. But it is much more likely, as a woman, you have absorbed the message that your highest function is to serve/help/support others.
Let’s be honest, there are times that the role of your highest self is to give time and energy for the betterment of others. Whether it’s our spouse, our elderly parents or maybe our children, sometimes our best energy is directed at helping those we love.
When you are in a balanced partnership, there will be seasons of extra giving and greater effort for both spouses. Seeking and creating balance in our families and professional life will require purposeful self-reflection and a commitment to self-growth.
You Can Find Happiness In Middle Age
As a woman, over-functioning for the sake of others can prevent you from focusing on your personal happiness.
Try the following suggestions to help you start your journey to your happy place!
How To Find Happiness Within
Despite what society, culture or social media may lead you to believe, happiness does not come from external sources. No matter how much money you make, how big your house is, or how many “likes” your latest post gets on social media, true and lasting happiness comes from within. So how can you take control of your own happiness?
Focus On What You Can Change
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the things in life that are out of our control—from the weather forecast to a boss who doesn’t appreciate us. When these external factors start to bring us down, it can be helpful to focus on the things we can actually change.
This could include anything from tidying up the house or taking a walk outside to switching jobs or enrolling in a yoga class. Taking action gives us a sense of control over our lives and puts us back in charge of our own happiness.
Connect With Yourself
We often forget that true and lasting joy comes from within ourselves. That means we need to disconnect from the world around us and reconnect with ourselves on a regular basis.
This could include activities like meditation, journaling, stretching, or anything else that helps you get in touch with yourself mentally and physically. Even just taking five minutes out of each day for some introspection can have powerful effects on our overall well-being and outlook on life.
Surround Yourself With Supportive People
The people around us have an enormous amount of influence over our mindset and emotional state. If we focus too much energy on toxic relationships—whether it’s with friends, family members, co-workers, or romantic partners—we are likely to feel drained rather than energized after spending time with them.
It’s important to surround ourselves with people who support our goals and make us feel good about who we are as individuals—because at the end of the day, only we can make ourselves truly happy.
Do This Homework To Help You Find Your Happy Place
Try making micro decisions that move you closer to happy. Allowing yourself the excitement of making a micro decision can be a superpower! Despite their small size, a micro decision can inch you closer to discovering your version of happiness.
For some women, choosing to say “no” to one request a day can be a micro decision toward happiness. Giving yourself permission to guard your energy and limited free time is a step toward finding your happy place. Challenge yourself to decline one request for your time and energy today, it might feel uncomfortable, but commit yourself to making micro changes.
Make One Small Scale Decision Focused On Making You Happy
Other women find it hard to “gift” themself with something unnecessary or frivolous. Sometimes when we give ourselves permission for enjoying something small, it can help open the door to giving ourselves permission to choose a bigger happy. Finding your happy place can begin with something as simple as giving yourself a small gift to enjoy!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- The most expensive coffee at your favorite drive through
- The pricey, high gloss magazine that is full of your favorite things.
- Expensive, cuddly spa socks
- Scheduling a blow out for the weekend.
- New trendy lip color (if you are fancy like that)
The price of the item isn’t the point for this exercise, the point to is make a micro move toward self-reward. When we connect with the small pleasures in life, we cultivate gratitude and celebrate the joy of being ourselves.
Taking control of your own happiness is empowering but also challenging at times. It requires self-reflection and understanding that no one else can do this work for us. If we tend to “over-function” for others, it is easy to get stuck ignoring our own needs.
However, when we take responsibility for our own well-being by focusing on what we can change, connecting with ourselves regularly through introspection and self-care activities, and surrounding ourselves with supportive people who uplift rather than drain us – then true happiness is possible! Working towards finding your own happy place will bring joy into every aspect of your life – so get started today!
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If you need help finding your happy place, I can help! Send me an email and let’s talk about helping you find more happy in your life!