Is Happiness After 40 Really That Hard?
You know what I’ve decided? The 40’s are a roller coaster of emotions. You know what else? The roller coaster keeps speeding up. More and more lately I find myself asking, “Where has the time gone?”
And if I’m super honest, I’ll tell you that while I’ve been living a good life, I’m starting to admit that in some ways, I’m not really living a life I love. Not in all areas.
It’s complicated. I DO love my life. I love the people in my life. Seriously, I am so grateful. And yet sometimes, I struggle. Suddenly, I’m midlife with and it feels like time is running out and I haven’t really done anything.
I’m now five years into my 40’s and those feelings of loss, overwhelm, confusion and even fear are quite familiar to me.
But what I also understand is that the past five years have a been a journey. In the beginning, I thought something was wrong with me. I thought I was alone. I felt stuck. Happiness after 40 seemed out of reach.
But I’m not alone. These feelings are normal. Even better, I’ve learned I have the power to Breathe and Reboot, which means I can shift gears and create the life I want to live. A happy life. A simple life.
Happiness takes work, awareness, reflection and self discovery. It’s a process.
What Does It Mean to Find Happiness After 40?
Finding happiness for a woman in midlife means taking control, living bravely, and creating the life you want and deserve. It means not giving a damn about what people think anymore, (which is hard.)
Happiness after 40 requires a certain mindset.
It’s being who you want to be and doing what you want to do. It can mean simplifying your life, or maybe be doing more with your life. It could be both. The path to happiness also includes managing the overwhelm and emotions we feel during this stage of life.
Call it a midlife crisis, midlife transition, or midlife doldrums. Just do a quick Google search and you will see many names for it. 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 definition of success? What is your purpose? Do you even know?
Things are changing; your body, your hormones, your relationships. You are not alone. You are not crazy. Yes, you have a lot you are dealing with. You struggle with overwhelm, chaos, hormone fluctuations, relationships, money and stress. You might wake up one day and think “Where did my life go? It’s too late to do ALL THE THINGS!”
But it’s not over. Really, far from it. In reality, you have so much you can and should still do!
Misconceptions About Life in Your 40’s
Midlife doesn’t necessarily mean midpoint. We’re living longer, friends. Long ago hitting 40 meant a person had a few decades left. That’s not the case anymore. In fact, we have more time (and opportunities to recreate our lives) than ever.
Midlife struggles don’t automatically equate to the typical “midlife crisis.” At least, not in the way we were conditioned to believe. (Think: middle-aged man buying fancy red sports car and having affairs with women half his age.) For many women, it’s less about lost youth and more about identity.
Midlife doesn’t mean “it’s all downhill from here.” I remember as a kid, seeing so many of those “over the hill” messages on 40th birthday cards or party decorations.
I got the distinct message that 40 was old; irrelevant and frumpy. It meant life was over. Yes, it was all in fun and designed as a joke, but I have to wonder, how much did that impact women’s outlook about age? Did they buy into the message?
Maybe some of our moms bought into the “over the hill” mentality. But we shouldn’t. Instead, we need to seek out our best lives and live with intention, knowing that age is just a number. What really matters is how we take care of ourselves and our mindset.
How to Be Happy After 40
First of all, figure out what happiness means for you. Having “things” doesn’t necessarily make you happy. But, having a more comfortable life can make you happy. Again, that depends on your definition of “comfortable.”
Is it downsizing because you have too much stuff? Or is it a bigger home to accommodate friends and family? Is it the work you do? Your relationships? Do certain activities or hobbies bring you joy? Do you want to travel?
Take time for self-exploration. What lights you up? Ask yourself, what fulfills you? What are some things you have always wanted to try?
Ask yourself a lot of questions about what you want and start taking action towards your answers.
Tips for Rediscovering Happiness
- Make self-care a priority
- Notice what brings you joy and do more of it
- Be kind to yourself – practice patience
- Stop the comparison game
- Practice gratitude
- Set healthy boundaries with others
- Adopt a growth mindset; keep growing and learning
- Give back to others and contribute to society
Happiness is a Mindset at Any Age
As you embark on this time of midlife, remember that it should be a time of rejuvenation and growth. Yes, there are a lot of changes to deal with. But life is going to be what you make up it.
There is no better time to embrace who you truly are and live the life you were meant to live.
So what do you think about this phase of life? How are you approaching or managing your midlife years? Tips or comments? Please share ’em!