True Joy and Happiness is Internal
One of the things you find with age, is that your dreams achieved don’t always satisfy you in the way that you imagined they would. In fact, a lot of people around me seem to be suffering from a mid-decade malaise whether they are in their 20s 30s 40s 50s. It doesn’t seem to matter. Writers call this the midway slump. It simply happens in the middle—no matter what your circumstances. And in books the writer often realizes, it’s because a character is not yet deep enough or connected/in conflict enough with other characters and nothing is driving the external plot.
But real life can’t be written away. It requires action.
Ultimately, happiness, joy and contentment cannot be satisfied by things that are external. Rather, it is internal satisfaction, sense of purpose, and a connectivity to people and the world that seem to provide the greatest source of joy in our lives.
If you find yourself in a slump, consider a renewed focused on relationships as your goal for this year and going forward in your life. These are relationships that you have with God or whatever you perceive God to be, with yourself, your spouse, your children, your family, and with your most important friends. Some people are excellent at this. If you’re more like me, you might need to practice a little harder.
With all these relationships, make it a goal to plan and to create regular and specific quality time rather than wait for them to initiate it. Train yourself to be attentive to taking advantage of the times when they drop in, call, or surprise you—as those are usually the times when they need something—and a grounded and present focus on them might be most important.
The goal in doing this is not to create new memories, or experiences, of even attain great wisdom—though I wouldn’t doubt that those things would be a byproduct. Rather, let your loved ones know that you are there for them, and that they are heard and loved and accepted and appreciated just as they are. This is the foundation of deep relationships, and being connected and belonging is a key source of happiness, so work at “relationshipping”.
If you haven’t focused on relationships in a while, research from The Gottman Institute is very encouraging in terms of why you should. Great friendships and love relationships—particularly spousal relationships, John Gottman says, result in greater wealth, greater health, greater resilience, faster recovery from illness, greater longevity of life, and more successful children.
Are those not all of our life goals? Perhaps by redirecting our energy we will find it much easier to achieve those goals.
If you feel like you are not as connected as you want to be, or you don’t have the community that is supporting you the way you need, then this year I encourage you to focus deeply on your key relationships. It takes time and work. And it’s not about you. It’s about what you give in the moment that you are with someone so that they walk away knowing they are accepted just as they are and that who they are right now, is enough—more than enough.
So sit down with your spouse or your sister or your child and just talk. And listen. And let them know that they are wonderful and strong and loved; that you have confidence in them; and that whatever it is, they’ve got this.
And so do you.
Tricia Cerrone is an award-winning author and screenwriter. Discover THE BLACK SWAN FILES available now.