Cultivating Happiness in Midlilfe



In midlife it can become easy to get down in the proverbial dumper. The U.S. magazine Balanced Living (winter 2004) comes to the same conclusion suggesting an optimistic attitude needs to be "cultivated." 

You have to "work" at it, according to the magazine. "Satisfaction is something you have to practise". 

Geography

I know when I lived thousands of miles away from my closest extended family members, I felt I was working at it all the time.  I failed miserably in cultivating the type of life I really wanted. It's hard to find people who care to get to know you from scratch. So the moved woman, as I was, often goes from day to day not really being "known" in her new location.

She may think she's made a connection with someone one minute, then become skeptical when the new friend doesn't make contact again. 

I recall an email from a friend at Just Moved.com.  She shared that once she moved back to her homeland, she felt she didn't have to "work so hard at being happy." I concur. Now that I'm closer to my extended family and in familiar territory, I feel more connected and less lonely. But I still have to carve out a life again daily.

Sustaining Happiness

Even so, many of us still have bouts of "what do I do next" syndrome or we get hit with boredom and loneliness from time to time. Practising happiness is ongoing. 

I'm reading The Power of Positive Thinking and am tapping into the ideas expressed there.  For one, the author suggests we act enthusiastic even if we don't feel enthusiastic.  He suggests we bounce out of bed and declare the day will be great, and then go about making it great. 

Something many midlife women are good at, Christian or not, is our ability to practise dissatisfaction.  It's easy to worry about money, complain about our work or lack of work, and comparing ourselves to others always leads to us coming up short. 

A greater amount of satisfaction is found in accepting what we do have, including our circumstances and challenges.  And, subsequently, accepting there are things we are powerless to change can bring peace. 

The well-known Serenity Prayer is one we should all heed:

"God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen."  Reinhold Niebuhr

Affirm Yourself 

Balanced Living advises regularly saying the following affirmation to keep your spirits up:

What I have, is enough.
What I am, is enough.
What I do, is enough.
What I've achieved, is enough.

Learning to value what you have and seeking to see joy in even mundane moments will keep you feeling satisfied and optimistic. Remembering that God can move in an change things any time he wants is also inspiring.  

So today, why not put down worry and surrender to God's will?  Let him make what he wants out of your life.   

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