Do you feel gratitude for some of past decisions that set you up for happiness now?
I love thinking about gratitude and how to be more intentional about happiness and life in general, don’t you?
Feeling more gratitude is always a great idea and thinking about it this way is a great little exercise. Are you ready to play in this sandbox?
I want to tell you about my dog, Niko the Newf because he’s a great example of this.
Niko is a 123 lb Landseer Newfoundland. Sometimes he weighs more…sometimes a little less, but I think you get the point. He’s a big guy.
And…he’s a huge part of our family (pun intended)!
What I love thinking about is how having him in our family NOW is an example and result of some of the reflection I was doing around my 50th birthday nine years ago.
I had a goal and it wasn’t that unusual. My goal was creating more happiness going forward.
When my 50th birthday was on the horizon, I wasn’t a life coach yet. But, even without specific training, I knew that doing some serious reflection around such a significant life milestone like this was most likely a really good idea.
Most would agree that turning 50 can be jarring and that not everyone sails into this phase of life without feeling a few bumps.
Knowing that you should get better at being intentional is a really good thing.
More happiness can be created on purpose, but it won’t happen by accident.
Turning 50 is a great time to reflect on midlife and potential regrets
One things for sure. You will regret having regrets.
What’s a midlife gal to do?
I suggest starting with reflecting about potential regrets.
With that clarity, I asked myself 3 simple questions:
- Question 1: What do I really want?
- Question 2: What am I likely to regret?
- Question 3: What do I want MORE of in my life?
These 3 questions aren’t that complex, but it’s easy to make them seem hard in midlife.
The trick to getting somewhere and having success with these prompts is to trust yourself to know the answers.
What that means is that you need to prepare yourself to WATCH your thoughts as they drift in.
You might be tempted to push them away with other thoughts about whatever it is being too hard or too indulgent, for example.
But please, trust me urging you to trust yourself.
Work on “seeing” and “catching” those thoughts.
Your thoughts might show up as an sense of what you’re yearning for, or a blurry image that you’re not quite sure what to do with.
That’s OK. You don’t need to be certain and have complete clarity at this moment.
But…work on these two things:
1) Be curious rather than dismissive.
2) Lean IN to that whisp of an idea rather than push it away.
What happened when I opened up to what I wanted in my next midlife chapter.
When I asked myself these questions, I started to think about big dogs.
Not any big dogs, but my big dogs from childhood.
It became clear that there was something special about this time in my young life that was calling to me now.
I saw that I wanted to bring a big dog back into my life…and introduce that experience to my family.
It kind of made sense. Having big dogs was a huge part of my childhood, and my identity. When I really think about what it all meant for me back then (between the ages of 7 and 11 or so), it was a pretty good time in my life. I had a fair bit of early childhood trauma, but this little slice of life for me was not like that.
Instead, it was a happy, positive time full of dog-related family activities with two parents (and having two parents was unusual for me).
I really connected with and and loved the whole big dog thing.
It’s quite a different experience. We had St. Bernards back then. My family bred and showed them, and even as a kid, I showed one of the puppies at big dog shows.
Dog shows were so much fun for me; I learned about all of the breeds and had something big in common with my dad. There was so much pride having such beautiful dogs and I was so proud to be trusted to show one of them in the puppy class, by myself, as a kid.
I wanted all of that for my family. Not the dog shows or breeding, but the fun and family life associated with such an amazing large breed.
And yes…the extreme mess and expense….lol.
Upon more reflection, a Newfoundland dog made more sense for our family than a St. Bernard. Lake life is a part of our life, so a strong swimming breed was a better idea.
And that’s how it all started.
I’m grateful I had that insight nine years ago. We all love him so much and have created so many amazing memories. Niko has added so much richness to our family, in so many ways. He’s always a big, messy party waiting to happen.
Gratitude for intentional happiness in midlife
When you take a step back, what I’m really talking about with this example is being really intentional about your happiness in midlife. You can make decisions carefully and on purpose that will set you up for more happiness.
Using milestone birthdays like turning 50 or turning 60 can be the impetus to do this, but you don’t need to wait for your big ol’ birthday. You can start asking yourself these three questions now and perhaps even on the regular. Have fun with it and remember, you have the power to be more intentional about your life, even now.
Practicing gratitude for putting your own happiness on the agenda in midlife is a very good thing!
Suzy Rosenstein, MA is a master certified life coach and host of the popular podcast for midlife women, Women in the Middle, with over 1 million downloads. Having wasted five years being stuck herself, she knows how frustrating and painful it can be. She uses her upbeat approach with the serious topic of aging to help you get clear about what you want, get unstuck and live your best life. Girlfriend, there’s more fun to be had! Start now with her free video training about how to get unstuck: www.midlifevideo.com.