Happiness may have alluded one during marriage and finding it after divorce is high on the list.
What exactly is happiness?
It is a transient feeling which requires frequent boosters. Planning an exotic getaway, buying designer shoes on sale, or a day at the spa bring on happiness temporarily.
Once the boost is over then one looks for another fix. We are born with a set point for happiness and various studies put it between 33% to 50%. This means that how happy we are is partly due to genetics and we can control the rest.
Some people seem to be born cheerful and others more morose, as I have witnessed in the school setting.
Andrew Carnegie, the American philanthropist born in Scotland, said “If you want to be happy – set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.”
During divorce, just surviving and getting through it may be the goal. After divorce come up with long-term ones such as exploring the world, a better financial situation or balancing family and work. Cultivating a positive outlook helps one to view the world as a friendlier, safer place. If one expects to be treated badly, then they perceive normal interactions with others as negative.
In one study on happiness, people were asked to think about a memory. The happier folks thought of happy ones. The test subjects who were depressed gravitated towards sad or unhappy remanences.
What is the secret to happiness?
Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert states “The quality of connections with people is the biggest predictor of happiness.” This message is echoed in a 75 year study by Harvard of 268 men in regards to life satisfaction and happiness. Psychiatrist George Valliant was one of the researchers who found that “The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”
Post-divorce focus on the quality of the connection with other people. Having several close friends brings more happiness than 500 ones on social media. What is important is engaging with others. Strengthen your ties to friends post-divorce. American psychologist Jaime Kurtz has done much research on happiness in the field of positive psychology.
To sustain happiness is to have meaning and purpose in life.
Ask yourself these questions. What inspires you? What is your passion? What drives you? If you are drifting along and not sure what you want to do after divorce, map out a life plan.
Where do you see yourself next year, in five years, in ten? Giving back to others, whether volunteering, doing pro bono work, or mentoring helps give meaning to life.
It is easy to be self-absorbed and reaching out to others creates healthy connections. Some people post-divorce started practicing gratitude, where they learned on a regular basis to appreciate the good happenings in their lives. Stop and notice the little things.
If you were on your deathbed now looking back over your life – did you accomplish all that you set out to do? What would any regrets be? What would you have left unfinished and do you have a legacy to pass on to family and friends? This is a good starting place to examine what you want to still accomplish.
People that I talked to on their deathbeds, wished they had spent more time with others or had travelled to specific destinations. Let this guide you into have a more fulfilling life which brings happiness. Schedule fun activities with friends and family. Since these only affect happiness on a short-term basis, fill your calendar with these events.
This may be the time to adopt a pet who showers you with unconditional affection. It takes time to heal after divorce, however if feeling like you cannot climb out of a black pit, then seek some help.
Wendi Schuller is a nurse, hypnotherapist and is certied in Neuro-linguistic Programing (NLP).
Her most recent book is The Global Guide to Divorce and she has over 100 published articles.
Her other book is The Woman’s Holistic Guide to Divorce. Web site is globalguidetodivorce.com.
photo credit: ‘Happy’, United States, New York, New York City, Noho via photopin (license)