How To Live A Happy Life Post-Divorce
Sometimes freedom is a scary thing. It comes with benefits, but it also comes with responsibilities that only you can fulfill. Divorce can be like that – liberating (especially if you wanted the divorce), but also surprisingly limiting. Learning how to live a happy life post-divorce involves balancing your newly acquired independence with the weight of extra responsibility and unforeseen emotions.
Happiness is a broad concept to funnel into a one-size-fits-all definition. Everyone wants it. Our Constitution has engraved the pursuit of it into the inalienable rights of our citizens. And everyone has an innate sense of what happiness is…and isn’t.
A study on happiness has shown that three things are the core elements of happiness: the quality of close relationships, a fulfilling job or hobby, and serving others.
When the closest relationship in your life has just gone “poof,” it’s natural to wonder how to live a happy life.
The very definition of who you are may still be entangled with your roles as a spouse and parent. But now you’re not a spouse. And your role as a parent will be, at the very least, “restructured.”
But finding joy in life after the great divide is possible. And, believe it or not, it can be richer than you ever thought possible.
Happiness is, in many ways, about balance. And so, after a divorce, you will have to achieve balance between what you draw into your life and what you allow to fall away.
Here are some tips for how to live a happy life post-divorce. Notice the balance between letting go and drawing in.
Remember why you got divorced.
You may or may not have wanted your divorce. But here you are.
You didn’t marry with the expectation of ending up apart. You knew there would be difficult times and plenty of mundane daily-life stuff to put a gray tone on your wedding day bliss. But you said “I do” with the intention to see it all through.
And yet, life happens. Deep-seeded truths surface. Spouses’ humanness surfaces.
No matter what led to your parting – a shocking betrayal, an accumulation of countless “little things” – divorce is a reckoning of lessons yet to be learned.
Remember that as you go forward, and welcome the revelation of life’s lessons along the way.
Decide that anger will not guide your life.
Anger is a natural emotion, so denying it is never the answer. (We can all point to people in our lives who insist, “I’m not angry,” while their faces redden and smoke escapes from their ears.)
But giving the steering wheel to anger as you try to navigate life after divorce will only lead to a crash course in “How To Ruin Your Life.”
Seek professional help, if necessary, to get to the truth – and gifts – of anger while learning how to defuse its control in your life.
Embrace your grief work as a bridge to a new and amazing life.
Picture a perfectly rolled ball of yarn, unraveling effortlessly as a knitter stitches away.
Now picture that same ball of yarn after a catnipped kittycat gets hold of it.
Yeah, grief is kind of like that. Non-linear, unpredictable, tangled up, and knotted in places.
When you understand what grief is trying to achieve, there is less cause for fear. In many ways, however unpredictable, disorderly, and uncomfortable, it is your conduit to inner liberation, healing, and happiness.
Find “your people.”
Remember that study about happiness? One of the three primay elements for how to live a happy life is having healthy close relationships.
Divorce giveth, divorce taketh away. And that applies to friendships (and even some family ties), too.
Learn to bless departing friends on their way as they live their own journeys and you live yours. Be grateful for time spent and lessons learned while you journeyed together.
And then move on to the exploration and welcoming of newfound friends and sources of support.
Rediscover the heart of you.
It’s only natural that you lose some of your individuality and sacrifice many of your personal goals and joys in the immersion of marriage.
Now is the time to revisit what has been dormant.
Why did you let it go? Do you have unfinished business with favorite hobbies and talents? What have you always wanted to learn, try, create? What unique gifts can be re-explored for their contribution to your new life and relationships that await you?
Make your health, fitness, and well-being a top priority.
Mangia bene, vive bene. The Italians (no surprise here) know the vitality that comes from food and connecting around it.
Eat well, live well. Grace yourself with the self-care reflected in healthful eating, exercise, and proper sleep.
Embark on a new “self-help” phase to enrich and empower your life.
Self-enrichment isn’t a one-hour-a-week-in-a-therapist’s-office pursuit. It’s a mindset of accepting that you don’t, in fact, “know everything,” and welcoming wisdom and insight from trusted sources.
Sing it loud, sing it clear, “Let it go, let it go…!”
Truly…let it go. Hold onto the good memories, the lessons, the gratitude, and, of course, your children.
But let the negative stuff go. No balloon can soar with all that baggage weighing it down.
Knowing how to live a happy life post-divorce starts with believing happiness exists post-divorce.
The next step is believing it exists – and is waiting – for you.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn and I’m a life coach. Schedule a 30-minute private consultation to ask me your questions about how to live a happy life post-divorce.