Is your divorce dictating how you feel about your life? If so, read this to learn how to be happy with your life no matter what.
Are you one of those people who just knows how to be happy with your life, regardless of your circumstances? Or do your circumstances dictate the state of your happiness? If you’re divorced or are going through a divorce, does your happiness suddenly seem like a coveted but impossible commodity?
There are no right or wrong answers – only honest ones. It’s the honest ones, after all, that open the door to possibility, whether that be in the form of major improvement or a simple shift in perspective.
Using divorce as a pivotal discussion point is a meaningful way to examine the concept of happiness in the throes of chaos, disappointment, and loss. As a veritable 180 to the hope-filled expectations and joyful ambitions of married life, divorce is an eviscerating experience.
It turns your life inside out, making it all but unrecognizable for what can be a very long adjustment period.
It also messes with your sense of personal identity: You are used to living the role of a spouse, and suddenly that role has been taken away. Now “who” are you? And how does your life’s purpose change, if at all, because of this unexpected “identity crisis”?
Inevitably, everything “self-”related – self-esteem, self-worth, self-awareness, self-accountability – takes a beating. At the very least, it is put to a major test.
Even without divorce, we have all known married people at whom we marvel for their ability (and determination) to remain anchored in a core happiness. It’s not that they are impervious to challenges. It’s that they are unflappable in the face of them.
So what exactly are these happy-no-matter-what people doing that sets them apart from everyone else? What can they teach those who hold a finger up to the wind before deciding the direction of their feelings?
And how can these “traits of the happy” inspire you in your post-divorce journey?
Below are some tips for how to be happy with your life post-divorce, combining traits of happy people with actionable tips for rebuilding a life after divorce:
Focus on the big picture more than the minutiae.
This isn’t to take anything away from the importance of details. Without them, critical components of your divorced life would be a train wreck – from the divorce settlement itself to post-divorce essentials like co-parenting.
But divorce has a way of bringing out the worst in people, even en route to bringing out the best in them.
For example, a highly contentious divorce, especially if there are large assets involved, is fertile ground for competitiveness between spouses.
Before you stake your life on a detail that may not provide a worthwhile return on your investment, look at the big picture. How much stress could be avoided by learning how and when to compromise in order to give more breathing room to your future?
Forgiveness. It’s perhaps the most difficult part of marriage, and most certainly the most difficult part of divorce. You have to forgive your former or soon-to-be former spouse, and you have to forgive yourself.
And you have to own up to expectations that you couldn’t meet and perhaps shouldn’t have had.
The importance of forgiveness as a key to happiness is that you are choosing the kind of thoughts you will live with. Are you going to relive your grievances over and over, ruminating over perceived injustices and what you deserved but didn’t get?
In the context of how to be happy with your life, forgiveness combines humility with recognition of the “big picture” that awaits your life.
If you’re going to live a happy life, you’re going to be busy, busy, busy with making it sparkle. You simply don’t have time to nurture all that negativity.
Besides, grudges – even toward yourself – are very, very heavy. And forgiveness is the only way to lighten that load.
Embrace self-accountability as a critical step toward self-empowerment…and self-forgiveness.
You can’t change what you don’t own.
Sadly, if most spouses embraced that truth before and during marriage instead of after divorce, there might be fewer divorces.
Blame, after all, is so much easier.
Looking within to confess and examine how you contributed to the demise of your marriage takes incredible courage.
It also frees you up to change those qualities and behaviors that don’t serve your highest good and self-expression in a relationship.
Remember, if you hope to have another relationship one day, that new person will be dating you, not your ex.
Nothing is a bigger turn-off than sitting through a litany of negativity and blame for an ex.
And nothing is more attractive than a person who has owned their role in a former marriage. Doing one’s own “work” demonstrates discipline, desire, commitment, and preparedness.
Build a strong inner-circle.
Happy people know that life is about the relationships you make and how you support each other from within them.
You certainly don’t have to let go of established relationships after your divorce. But you may discover that, because of your divorce, not all your friendships were what they presented themselves as. And, sadly, some friends and family members may walk out of your life.
This is your opportunity to surround yourself with people who reflect your own commitment to personal growth.
Consult your personal value system. Make sure you are being the kind of person you want in your life and attracting the kind of people worthy of being in it.
Stay curious about life.
Curiosity. The very word sounds so childlike, unencumbered, playful, hopeful, open.
And that’s because it is.
Curiosity involves a certain amount of risk. You have to go out on a limb to discover and learn new things, never with a guarantee of what you’ll find.
But happy people are inherently curious because they know there is always an upside to the adventure.
Whether or not they get what they expected or even hoped for, they will always come away with a lesson. And lessons connect the dots of life in interesting, courage-building ways.
Constantly nurture a temperament of gratitude, and use it as a touchstone for (re)creating your life’s purpose.
Finally, if you really want to know how to be happy with your life – at any time, not just post-divorce – stay grateful. Remember what you have – life, talent, family, friends, work, a roof over your head – and use this to propel your life forward.
Your life’s purpose isn’t over or wasted just because your marriage has ended. It’s up to you to be in a constant state of reinvention as an extension of what you have already learned and accomplished.
In the final analysis, getting back to happy after divorce will be the result of steering your mindset in the direction of happiness…
…and giving life some time behind the wheel while you enjoy the view.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn and I’m a life and divorce coach. You can select a helpful report and join my newsletter list for weekly support in moving on from your divorce. Additionally, you can schedule a 30-minute private consultation to talk with me about how you can live a happy life post-divorce.