Happy full days come in all sizes and shapes and the truth is, the recipe for happiness has changed over these past 10 years. The list has become easier to access and simpler and that in itself feels better. Maybe that’s why they say older people are more content.
What I believed would make me happy 10 years ago can no longer be contained in 4 walls. I thought if I could figure out where to “settle” as an “empty nester” I could get tucked in and begin a routine that has evaded me since my youngest left home. The persistence of where to live dominated my thoughts and left little space to appreciate that it wasn’t the barrier to happiness.
It turned out geography was not in the way of building out a great day. The truth is, I love routines, but they do not have to be experienced in a “fixed” place. Many years ago I had a yoga teacher who lived globally. Each month she was running workshops in a different country. I asked her where her home is and she told me “the world is her home.”
Wow. I pondered that for a long while and years later It made sense.
Upon reflection, in this slightly past “mid-life” stage, it turns out that happiness is at my doorstep each morning, I just have to welcome it in. I know what it is that puts a smile on my face and makes me feel whole, stimulated and loved. The door doesn’t always open easily each day, and many days there are random visits that keep joy from being easily accessible. But, the truth is, it’s there.
When I was in a particularly tough period in my life, I was challenged by a therapist to make a list of what I love. That list has stuck with me and on days that don’t feel all that rosie, I try to remember to look at the list and indulge in one or a few of the things I love to do.
Creativity: I love to write, I love a deadline and the adrenaline that comes with it.
Community: I love visiting my friends, my kids who live far away, and Iespecially love when they visit me. The biggest treat during these visits is a good laugh, or being able to support them if needed. The spontaneity that comes with sleep overs and extended unrushed days together is the silver lining of living too far away for quick visits. This is what makes life feel rich and connected and worthwhile.
Body: I love physical exercise and there’s nothing better than a full day ski, a long bike ride, 18 holes of golf. or a day’s hike. I am beyond grateful when the feet aren’t aching and the back isn’t twinging. Just doing it is the sweetest.
Intimacy: At the end of all that play, I love to be cozy with my husband, my dog Jazz, my family and friends and a good book.
Thses 4 ingredients make my recipe for a happy life.
And when, I can bring in one or all of those elements into my day, I feel very very fulfilled.