steps to Happiness after 40!
By Craig Nathanson - The Vocational Coach™
Step One: Engage in self-reflection
I know — easier said than done. Most of us go through
our lives never really getting to know ourselves. After all,
life offers us many distractions. Who has time for self-reflection?
The only way to to be happy after 40 is to get to know yourself
really well. This includes accepting and loving who you are.
This includes accepting and loving the nervous habits that only
you know about, those annoying addictions, and that little pot
belly or slight jiggle. All your life perhaps, you have been
reminded by a parental voice that you are not quite good enough
or smart enough. Or maybe it’s a loving spouse who, with
all good intentions, is quick to remind you of your faults.
It may be just society — and all the pressures to look
and act young while buying lots of stuff and having perfect
children and lots of money. All this can make self-reflection
a scary proposition, but this is the first and most important
step towards happiness. Start with this simple question:
What makes me happiest?
Be completely selfish and honest with your answer
Step Two: Spend time on what makes you most happy
Sounds logical, doesn’t it? Examine your list. What are
some of the things that make you happiest; and make you feel
most alive? Perhaps it’s the little things — like
reading the paper in the morning? Or reading a good book? Maybe
it’s spending time with those you care about? Maybe it’s
playing on the computer writing music. The point is this: make
sure each day contains at least some of these important elements.
This will make you happy.
Don’t give up these items to satisfy others and their
demands. This will lead to illness and unhappiness.
Step Three: Find someone to take of and who can take care
Humans need humans. We also need a few — or even just
one — person we can think about all the time: planning
activities with or just daydreaming about. Ideally, this will
be the same person who spends their day planning for you, dreaming
about you, perhaps making your special cup of tea when you come
home at night. With someone to care for in a equal relationship,
you will be happy. So many relationships end up lopsided, with
one person more dependent on the other. Two people who place
each other’s needs in high priority in a loving way enables
Step Four: Laugh a lot each day
Humor helps to focus the mind on the silly aspects of life.
Humor helps break patterns such as negative thinking and addictive
habits. Whether it’s watching funny movies, going to see
comedy or just joking with people you meet, you will lighten
the stress of everyday life. This will help you to be happy.
I used to become so angry about sales calls to the house at
dinner time. Now, it becomes my comedy hour. The other day someone
called to offer some type of insurance. The offer was that if
I agreed to buy the insurance, they would send out a ten dollar
gift certificate for gas in 7-10 days. I told them I was out
of gas today, and asked if they could overnight the coupon,
so that I could have gas the following day. Then I asked them
when their dinner break was. They told me, and I said I would
call them back during their dinner break as I was having my
dinner! The person said they weren’t allowed to take calls
during dinner!! Amazing, but you get the idea!
Laugh with others, and find comedy in your daily life. This
will make you happy.
Step 5: Be physical
There are lots of ways to be more physical. You can run, lift
weights, swim, do yoga, walk, make love—you get the idea.
Motion changes emotion. Stuck in a depression? Get out and move!
This will make you happy.
Step 6: Take afternoon naps
A twenty-minute nap lying down will recharge your batteries.
Add eight hours of sleep each night, and you will feel rested.
When we are rested, our creativity soars, our spirits are lifted,
and we look at the bright side of our lives.
Well-rested people are happier!
Step 7: Eat small meals throughout the day
The typical American diet is little to no breakfast, a decent
lunch, and a huge dinner. Break this pattern. Start to eat smaller
meals throughout the day. I recommend five meals throughout
the day, small and healthy meals, of course.
What we eat has a huge influence on our attitude, and ultimately
Fight the urge for unheathy foods. Healthy eating habits can
help make you happy.
Step 8: Become emotionally strong
When we let others and their feelings and perceptions of us
worry us all day, this drains our energy and spirit. When we
live our lives for the approval of others, we are no better
off than the puppet on the string at the local children’s
puppet show. Become internally motivated, and you will become
emotionally stronger. Use quiet time to think deeply about one
subject at a time until you reach a conclusion and resolution.
In the end, tell yourself you did the best you could at the
time. This will make you emotionally strong, and you will be
Step 9: Treat your money with respect
Your money has no loyality to any person or cause. It goes
where you decide to place it.
Even though there is really great software these days to track
your money, start with a pencil and a piece of paper. Examine
what comes in each month, and what goes out. That’s it.
Make sure you are spending money on things that are important
to you and that add value in your life. Certain bills may add
value in your life, such as the electric bill, but the multiple
credit card bills do not add value, especially if, like most
of us, you still have the bills coming long after you have forgotten
what you bought. Pay these off. There is no secret here. You
either have to reduce expenses or increase income. Both can
make you happy. In my experience, reducing the expense side
will make you happier!
Step 10: Do the work you love
Of course I saved the best for last. When we spend our days
doing work that aligns our interests and our abilities —
and feels just right — we are happier. Start by examining
your work: this can help you progress through the other nine
steps. Most of us figure out what work might make us happy,
but then we quickly convince ourselves that our dreams are not
Think about it, if you don’t believe that your dreams
are possible, who else will?
Each day, focus on one of these steps and within a few weeks
you will learn how to use all ten steps together. Like a well-tuned
orchestra, you will start to play the music that makes you happiest.
After 40, isn’t it about time for you?
I’ll be cheering you on as you go- Craig Nathanson
Craig Nathanson is the author of P Is For Perfect: Your Perfect
Vocational Day and a coaching expert who works with people over
Visit Craig’s online community at http://www.thevocationalcoach.com
where you can take a class, get more ideas through Craig Nathanson’s
books and CD’s, get some private coaching over the phone
or in Craig’s office, or read other stories of mid-life
change and renewal.
Craig lives and works in Petaluma, California. His office
is located atP.O Box 2823, Petaluma Ca, 94953. You can reach
him at 707-775-4020 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Craig's Vocational Passion Newsletters are edited by Anita
Flegg at The Sharp Quill. The Sharp Quill -- www.sharpquill.com
-- specializes in writing and editing for small business. You
can see Anita's vocational story at http://www.thevocationalcoach.com/_vocational_community/_real_stories/story_anita.html
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