Why do some individuals seem to embrace life with renewed fervor after divorce, while others seem to succumb to bitterness and regret, even years after the split? The answer lies not in the decisions made, but in our ability to live with them and seek happiness, regardless of circumstances.
As we navigate the rocky road of life with its bends, bumps, and uncertainties, we’re all in pursuit of that elusive state of “happiness”. Life can be a flurry of emotions: exciting, frustrating, lonely, adventurous, and fulfilling. The real challenge lies in making the right decisions that lead us to happiness, while also appreciating the journey life offers.
Consider this: a group of skeletons, captured in a photograph, sitting around a table playing cards. Could they represent unhappy individuals, eternally awaiting something or someone to bring them happiness? Or perhaps they are biding time until the “perfect” moment of joy finally arrives. This image serves as a stark reminder: if you keep waiting, you’ll be waiting forever. The pursuit of happiness takes effort.
The Reality of Post-divorce Happiness
Can a person be single, post-divorce, and still find happiness? If so, how? Is it akin to the promises of a fad diet – follow a few simple steps and, voila, a transformed you! Sadly, that’s far from reality. Perhaps you believe that happiness only manifests when you find the “perfect” partner. But when you find yourself single again, it’s time to rethink and recreate that vision of “happily ever after”.
The Adventure of Post-divorce Life
In the wake of my divorce, I found myself embarking on a journey into the unknown. I seized new opportunities, and through the course of this adventure, I changed. The person I am today is strikingly different from the woman I was during my marriage or even in my twenties. The changes go beyond just physical traits, like straight hair instead of curly or fine lines around my eyes. They have altered me profoundly.
I soon realized that life would pass me by if I kept waiting for that perfect partner. I needed to move forward, and it took hard work and a willingness to seek happiness. Today, I consider myself fortunate. I have three amazing kids, an incredibly supportive family, and a dynamic group of friends – none of which I had when I first separated.
Becoming a Happy Divorcée: Some Insights
As the title suggests, achieving happiness post-divorce is possible. Cathy Greenberg, co-author of the “What Happy Know Brands, LLC” book series and an expert on the science of happiness, shares her perspective.
While researching my next book on divorce, I stumbled upon “What Happy Women Know”. I had the privilege to speak with Cathy, who shared wisdom drawn from her personal experience with divorce. She emphasized the importance of viewing each ending as a new beginning, and to explore the freedom that comes with it.
Divorce, albeit a difficult time, can present new opportunities – a chance to introspect, consider a new career, or even learn new things. The key is to build on your strengths, rather than dwelling on your weaknesses. Cathy stresses the importance of positive thinking and avoiding the trap of “negative looping”.
Her personal experience with divorce taught her the importance of self-reliance and the benefits of focusing on personal strengths. This mindset proved crucial not just for her emotional health, but also for her child’s well-being. Despite the pain of divorce, she was able to harness resilience and look towards the future with hope.
To delve further into the science of happiness and becoming a happy divorcee, consider these books:
- “What Happy Women Know: How New Findings in Positive Psychology Can Change Women’s Lives for the Better” by Dan Baker, Cathy Greenberg, and Ina Yalof
- “What Happy People Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Life for the Better” by Dan Baker and Cameron Stauth
The conclusion? Divorce is not the end, but a new beginning. Embrace it, learn from it, and seek happiness – it’s within your control.
Optimizing Life Post-Divorce: A Happier, Stronger You Written by Deborah Moskovitch in emotional divorce, feeling better, happiness, happy divorcee, loneliness, love, The Smart Divorce. Last Updated July 11, 2013
People often identify with who they were during their marriage, instead of focusing on the person they can become after divorce.
Now is an optimal time to envision what you want your new life to look like and develop strategies to achieve it. Suppose you were the primary caregiver and stayed home with your children during your marriage, you might need to re-enter the workforce, especially if you’ve been out of it for a number of years. Consider seeking comfort from a vocational coach to aid this transition. However, if you can afford not to work, ask yourself: will this still bring me happiness? Volunteering or pursuing other interests can be fulfilling avenues as well. Remember, your children may not be with you every day or weekend anymore. The challenge lies in reconstructing your life, achieving a successful relationship with yourself, and finding happiness in this new beginning. You just have to embrace the change and believe in your ability to accomplish it.
Don’t just dream about your life being different, live the life as you envision it. Don’t postpone the activities you promised to undertake when you feel better. Start pursuing those things now, and happiness will follow. If you wait until you feel happier to do these things, you’ll be waiting a long time.
I initially wrote this article for More magazine’s online edition, a publication that celebrates women over 40. However, divorced men should also feel comfortable reading this as it offers great insight into moving forward post-divorce with tips that apply to both genders.
Let’s not sugarcoat things. There are times when life post-divorce is difficult, filled with sadness, loneliness, and emotional pain. You might still be dealing with a sense of loss, self-esteem issues, or even a sense of regret for no longer being part of a couple. But remember, there are many divorced people leading fulfilling lives. Try to reframe the situation, engage in self-reflection, and think about the life you had when you were married. Many unhappily married adults have told me that they weren’t fulfilled during their marriage, even if they were initially blindsided by their divorce. If you’re having difficulty post-divorce, this is when you really need to harness your coping skills to regain a positive outlook and work towards self-acceptance. Consulting a therapist, having a strong support system, or engaging in a thorough internal inventory of your life goals can lead you to a clearer perspective of your future and how to get there.
Can happiness be found post-divorce? Unhappily married adults may question this. Toronto psychiatrist Mark Berber, known as the happiness guru, believes it’s within reach, no matter your circumstances.
For 30 years, Berber has applied happiness therapy to help patients struggling with severe mental health issues, from anxiety and depression to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. His approach combines traditional psychiatry with principles of positive psychology, an approach pioneered by renowned U.S. psychologist and author Martin Seligman.
According to Seligman’s happiness model explained in his book, Authentic Happiness, our happiness capacity falls into three categories. Fifty percent is beyond our control, as we’re born with a “half-full” or “half-empty” perspective. Another 10% is shaped by life circumstances, like losing a job or winning the lottery. The remaining 40%, the “voluntary variables”, depends on the personal choices we make to improve our self-esteem and life quality.
“Changing life circumstances isn’t easy, but we can modify the voluntary variables to lead happier lives,” says Berber. This involves focusing on positive traits like kindness, gratitude, and helping others. Even those traumatized by life events, like a divorce, can regain happiness with the right tools and support system.
Rona Mackay, a long-time patient who has battled bipolar depression, attests to the positive impact of Berber’s approach. Along with finding the right medication, Berber’s positive psychology principles have helped her lead a better life. She credits his upbeat approach as instrumental in her recovery. “He’s helped me rewire my thought patterns,” she says.
Regardless of whether your outlook is pessimistic or optimistic, Berber insists a happier life is achievable. It takes conscious decisions, changes, and mental training. As a Roman philosopher noted, our happiness hinges on the quality of our thoughts, which determine our feelings.
Based at Ontario’s Markham Stouffville Hospital, Berber often highlights the misunderstood or “trivialized” aspect of happiness. Alongside its emotional benefits, happiness provides physical advantages such as lower blood pressure, improved sleep and cognitive function, enhanced life expectancy, stronger immune systems, and reduced stress hormone secretion.
To celebrate the United Nations’ second-annual International Day of Happiness on March 20, Berber emphasizes happiness is nurtured by subjective well-being.
His tips are simple:
- Nurture healthy relationships. Berber observes, “Married men and women are happiest. If you’re in an unhappy marriage, don’t endure it. Unhappy marriages can lead to depression, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart disease, particularly in women.”
- Pet-owners usually report feeling happier and less lonely. “Pets provide a similar level of support as parents and siblings,” he says.
- Show gratitude. Acknowledge acts of kindness and never take people for granted.
- Be kind and volunteer. Volunteering connects you with others and strengthens relationships, leading to increased happiness.
- Forgive and move on. Holding onto past conflicts and regrets can cause emotional pain. Letting go can lead to a new beginning and improved psychological well-being.
- Exercise regularly. Staying physically healthy through physical activity boosts mood, reduces anxiety, and promotes longevity.
- Engage and find meaning in life. Live in the present and don’t delay your happiness.
Berber’s philosophy offers a guide for unhappily married adults, divorced men and women, or anyone seeking to find happiness, regardless of their life circumstances.
Discovering Happiness Post-Divorce: Three Essential Keys
There are countless paths to happiness, and these paths vary for each individual. However, there are fundamental behaviors and attitudes that can foster a baseline level of lifelong happiness. These include the ability to find joy in solitude, practicing self-compassion, and understanding the concept of synthetic happiness.
Finding Joy in Solitude
Solitude is a positive state where we feel at ease with ourselves. Many people, including divorced men and women, find happiness in being alone. Solitude can be particularly beneficial for creative individuals who need time alone for writing, building, painting, or engaging in other creative processes. It’s also crucial for self-reflection and spiritual growth, which often involve private conversations and prayer.
However, feeling lonely, a state where one feels excluded or disenfranchised, can lead to an unhappy relationship with oneself. It’s crucial, especially for young people who often experience mood fluctuations and a need for constant engagement, to develop the ability to be comfortable in solitude. This can help prevent feelings of restlessness and unhappiness, and protect their self-esteem from the negative impact of not being included in their peer activities.
To find happiness in solitude, it’s important to engage in activities you enjoy, such as reading, painting, exercising, or even caring for a pet. Reflecting on happy times, brainstorming solutions to problems, or watching a great movie can also be beneficial. Over time, you’ll start to appreciate the calm and joy that comes from spending time with yourself.
Everyone desires to feel special. However, it’s impossible for everyone to be above average at the same time. We all have our strengths, but there will always be someone smarter, more attractive, or more successful. It’s common to be hard on ourselves when we acknowledge our flaws or shortcomings, leading to a negative emotional state. The remedy? Self-compassion.
Research conducted by Dr. Kristin Neff and her colleagues at the University of Texas shows that self-compassion is a powerful way to achieve emotional well-being and contentment, helping us avoid destructive patterns of fear, negativity, and isolation. Self-compassion involves three core components: self-kindness, recognition of our common humanity, and mindfulness. By embracing these elements, we can foster self-compassion, leading to a better life and improved mental health.
Understanding Synthetic Happiness
Harvard psychologist Dr. Dan Gilbert suggests that we “synthesize” our happiness. This means that our “psychological immune system” helps us adjust our views about our world to feel better about our circumstances. Synthetic happiness is what we produce when we don’t get what we want, while natural happiness is what we experience when we do. Both types of happiness feel the same, and one is not necessarily better than the other.
According to Gilbert, our brains often mislead us into thinking that certain things, like new clothes or winning the lottery, will make us happy. However, studies show that we can make ourselves happy by simply imagining that we are happy. This means that getting what we want doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness. In fact, a new house or a new spouse may make you happier, but the effect is often short-lived.
In conclusion, finding happiness after divorce or any significant life change involves understanding and practicing these three core concepts. It may not be an easy journey, but with time and effort, you can find happiness in your new life.
Regain Your Passion for Healthy Living
Lately, I’ve been lacking the motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and I attribute it more to laziness than anything else. I take great pride in ensuring that my children eat well, and I make it a point to prepare healthy, nutritious, and delicious meals for them. However, when it comes to cooking for myself, especially when my kids are with their dad, I tend to slip up a bit. I often find myself thinking, “What’s the harm in having an occasional bowl of cereal for dinner, followed by a couple of 100-calorie snacks?” Sometimes, I even indulge in my personal favorite: cottage cheese and noodles. And on my laziest days, I resort to grabbing a decadent chocolate bar for lunch, followed by an apple for dessert. But the truth is, there are better options available.
As I reflect on the significance of healthy eating, I realize that I may have been mistaken in my approach. While I celebrate the wisdom that comes with age and maturity, unfortunately, my metabolism doesn’t seem to keep up—it tends to manifest itself in my expanding midsection. In an effort to break free from this pattern, I’ve sought the guidance of Barbie Casselman, a renowned nutritionist from Canada, specifically for those times when I’m cooking for myself.
Casselman emphasizes, “If we desire to maintain good health, feel better, and maintain a youthful appearance, we must make changes to our lifestyle. This includes various factors such as our dietary habits, the exercise we engage in, our stress levels, cigarette and alcohol consumption, our relationships, and even our spiritual outlook.”
Transforming the End of Your Marriage… Embarking on a New Path Towards Divorce
The ending of a marriage lacks traditional rituals, ceremonies, or customs, such as those we have for mourning the death of a loved one. Nevertheless, many people seek a symbolic means to find closure and to mourn the end of their marriage.
This idea occurred to me when someone asked if I had ever heard of a ‘Divorce Cake.’ While I haven’t personally encountered anyone baking or serving such a cake, it spurred my thoughts on unique ways that might assist individuals in moving forward after divorce. Although these tactics might require a dash of humor, they undeniably carry merit.
A recent article in The Globe and Mail featured a specially designed coffin for wedding rings, symbolizing the burial and mourning of past marital bonds before moving forward. This unique concept stood out to me.
A family lawyer emailed me about a client who took an active role in her divorce process. This woman insisted on personally filing her divorce application at the courthouse, mirroring how she had obtained her marriage application years before. It was a powerful gesture, a display of taking control of her life during the divorce process. I found her approach admirable and empowering.
Others choose to throw divorce parties or send out email notifications announcing their divorce. While these methods are interesting, it’s crucial to avoid expressing anger, bitterness, or remorse. You don’t want to make friends uncomfortable, offend anyone, or turn yourself into a figure of mockery. Instead, view these actions as opportunities for closure and healing.
Now, let’s return to the idea of a ‘Divorce Cake.’ What might the recipe for such a cake look like?
Perhaps it could include:
- A dash of focus (on shaping the future you want),
- Two sprinkles of hope,
- And a generous helping of confidence (to enable you to create the life you envision).
All these ingredients are attainable through research, open communication, and acknowledging that divorce is an emotionally charged period. But by effectively dealing with your emotions, you can turn this time of hardship into an opportunity to learn and grow.
Divorce is not just the end; it also signifies the beginning of a new journey.
In life’s journey, marriage and divorce are significant milestones that can greatly impact our mental health and happiness. Unhappy marriages and relationships often lead individuals to seek a brighter future, hoping that a new relationship or marriage will bring the joy that was missing in their old life.
However, as the research team led by Chicago sociologist Linda Waite has found, the divorce rates for second and third marriages are significantly higher than for first marriages. This could be due to various factors, including emotional neglect from an ex-spouse, the stress of dealing with a bad marriage, or the challenges of raising self-esteem after a difficult time.
The study found that most people who stayed married, despite being in an unhappy relationship typically reduced symptoms of emotional distress over time. This concept, known as the “marital endurance ethic,” suggests that staying in an unhappy marriage could lead to eventual happiness. However, it’s important to remember that every individual, every marriage, and every divorce is unique.
Finding happiness after divorce is a possible task. Many divorced women and men have been able to build a new life, form new relationships, and find hope and happiness they hadn’t experienced in their previous marriages.
Ultimately, whether to stay in an unhappy marriage or seek a divorce is a deeply personal decision. It’s a decision that should be carefully considered, considering one’s happiness, mental health, and the potential impact on family and friends.
Remember, it’s not about making the right or wrong decision but the best decision for you. As difficult as it may be, focusing on your happiness and mental health can lead to a brighter future, whether staying married, getting divorced, or starting a new relationship.
In the words of a wise old saying, “It’s better to be alone than in bad company.” So, whether you’re married, divorced, or somewhere in between, always strive to find happiness in your company first. After all, you are your own best partner in the journey of life.
In conclusion, the journey to happiness after a divorce can be challenging, but it’s far from impossible. It’s a deeply personal journey that requires introspection, resilience, and sometimes, professional guidance. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Many have walked this path before and have found a renewed sense of happiness and purpose.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that there are professionals who can help. A lawyer can guide you through the legal aspects of divorce, and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst can help you navigate the financial implications. But beyond these practical matters, it’s crucial to take care of your emotional health as well.
That’s where a Divorce Coach can make a significant difference. A Divorce Coach can provide you with the tools and strategies you need to navigate this challenging time and emerge stronger on the other side. They can help you envision your new life and take the necessary steps to achieve it.
If you’re ready to take the next step in your journey to happiness after divorce, we invite you to schedule a Get Acquainted Call. This call is an opportunity for us to understand your unique situation and discuss how we can support you in your journey.
Remember, it’s not just about surviving your divorce but about thriving in your new life after it. So, reach out today and let’s start building your happier, stronger future together.
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