5 Unexpected Ways to Raise Your Happiness After Age 50
You can enter your 50’s and beyond while enjoying extreme health, and experiencing more energy and happiness than ever before.
After age 50 each of us becomes more keenly aware of our own mortality while simultaneously feeling overwhelmed by life’s persistent annoyances and chores. Also after 50, we tend to feel increased pressure to improve our retirement strategy. In midlife and post-midlife, there are solutions for the chaos of modern daily life. Serenity is within reach. Innate resources can be tapped!
These five methods, in particular, will be helpful to you for experiencing increased happiness in post-midlife.
1. Find Reasons to Feel Hopeful
Deep in our very core, we all have a directional impulse to honor that which desires to come into being.
Psychologist Carl Rogers describes how, as a boy, his family kept a winter supply of potatoes in their basement, far removed from any direct light source. These potatoes gave off white and spindly shoots which were a far cry from the healthy green ones that could be expected under ideal springtime planting conditions. However, even in the most trying of environments, these sprouts grew two and even three feet in length. They stretched their way towards the possibility of light, to the source that would help them fulfill the potential that lay within.
In much the same way, many of us struggle with less than optimal conditions to reach our own potential. Overwhelmed, overstressed, and overtired - we forge through our day trying to make spring out of winter. However, unlike the potato, at the mercy of its circumstances, we can choose to create a fertile environment. You can grow, change, and nurture your own fruition – which will (and this is an important point) benefit not only yourself but those around you.
2. Remember Who You Really Are
What does it mean to be “self-actualized?”
Put simply, it means to realize one’s fullest potential – to take the seeds of your abilities and encourage their complete development. Given the ideal circumstance, every seed will give birth to the wonders that lay dormant in its belly. When you look at your life, do you already see the fullest fruition of what rests within you? Or, rather, do you feel like you’ve lost your way? Do things seem a bit numb or disconnected as if you’re following a dream that sprang from someone else’s slumber? This is autopilot.
At least 85% of people enter their 50’s are on autopilot.
The real kicker is that we can’t even remember when in our lives we switched to autopilot; it just seems to have sort of… happened. Stay on autopilot long enough, and eventually, life will begin to lose its numinous glow. You want your life to have that magical, full-color quality that helps give you the moment-to-moment sensation of fully being alive.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow observed that self-actualization is an ongoing process rather than an end-point that can actually be achieved. He explained that there is no arriving at it as if it were a state of Nirvana; rather, it is a sustained potential that, when engaged, moves you further and deeper into your journey of knowing the wholeness of your potential.
Are you aligned with the directional force within?
Wherever you lie along the spectrum, it is likely that you can benefit from exploring the patterns, habits, and choices that enhance happiness. Yes, even in this modern era, chock-full of illusion and distraction, you can be aligned with your truth.
3. Helm Your Own Happiness Journey
Maslow asserted that less than 15% of people are truly “self-actualized.”
So even though we each hold the potential for self-realization, there are apparently many factors that undermine our efforts to achieve our unfolding. Though most have lived less than ideal lives and have often suffered hardships and loss, these factors are mere stumbling blocks when compared to the shackles of our own self-perception. Maslow notes that each human being has two sets of competing forces within:
• One set clings to safety and defensiveness out of fear, tending to regress backward, hanging on to the past, afraid to grow afraid to take chances, afraid to jeopardize what she already has.
• However, the other set impels her forward toward uniqueness and wholeness of Self, towards full functioning of all her capacities while, simultaneously allowing her to be able to accept the totality of who she is at the deepest and most authentic level.
Many of us, though, cannot foster our own self-actualization – in part because we are unable to move beyond an incomplete perception of who we are.
It’s understandable that with all of the uncertainty and unrest of existence, we would long to create something real and tangible – especially when it comes to how we imagine ourselves to be in the world. We hold to our self-image as if it were a stable reality, when it is more like a paper kite in a thunderstorm. When we spend less time defending a truth that is likely to be incomplete – and decide instead to explore what lies beyond it – then we create an opportunity for true change.
Part of the excitement of entering your 50’s and beyond is that, at last, you can begin to completely accept yourself as the multifaceted gem that you are.
Start polishing the diamond so that it can shine.
4. Embrace Minimalism
Unrealized potential can be damaging to psychic and physical health alike.
Fulfillment is irreplaceable. “Busyness” is an insufficient substitute for fulfillment. Understanding the unique way that you process information can help you to optimize your own productivity and communication and give you leverage in the second half of your life:
• learn to see yourself within a culture of brain diversity – accept he idea that each of us sees the world through a different lens;
• our willingness to be introspective is essential if we are to leverage our personal brain styles and yield our fullest potentials;
• learn in what specific ways your own brain style is different than those around you;
• instead of getting frustrated that others don’t process information in the exact way that you do, become increasingly adept at recognizing other people’s brain styles and accommodating when possible.
• Sometimes we have to stop working for a few minutes so we can look at how we’re working, to determine if our habitual work style is aligned with our greatest strengths and talents.
How can each of us leverage our unique brain styles for maximum positive impact? It’s one of life’s great questions… or should be.
Once you know your brain style, then you’ll also have a better idea of what’s truly important to you – that will make it easier to pare down to only those things and people that are helpful and enjoyable.
The better you know yourself the less material things you will need in your life to bolster your sense of self.
The less possessions you own, the more time, energy and money you will then have to focus on those things that truly improve your own health and happiness. Excess is overrated. People who have too much stuff are weighed-down. Start setting healthy boundaries – only let into your life those people, possessions, and experiences that enhance your energy. This will be hugely transformative, in ways that you can’t even imagine.
As you undertake to live more minimally, crafting checklists can be helpful. Productivity systems help people to manage their time and energy:
• a checklist frees up mental space (you can visualize it as a process of removing the task from your mind and placing it in a receptacle we call: the checklist)
• a checklist frees up time for self-care. Self-care is not just about making time to hit the gym; self-care is also about being true to your calling, whatever it might be, for the sake of your psyche.
5. Move Boldly Toward Joy
The keys to thriving after the age of 50 are found in the ability:
• to accept the simple notion that the way you process information is organically different from the way some other people process information;
• to accept our brain-style differences as a natural, healthy part of living - and working - within a community;
• to understand and appreciate each other’s unique styles of learning and working, so that we can leverage our brain-styles for maximum productivity and joy.
Many of us have veered off of our path - the path we were meant to walk. Lost in an urban jungle of economic pressures, we suddenly realize that we’re meandering from distraction to distraction. At some point, we stepped off the trail and somehow lost track of it.