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How Can You Tell if You’re Happy? It’s a Harder Question than It Sounds!

By Paula Harer June 05, 2023 Mindset

Knowing that you’re in a happy state seems like a no-brainer, right? As the song goes, “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.”

While I am not clapping my hands, I have become aware of my happiness. I am happy. That doesn’t mean I am trouble free, and it doesn’t mean that my life is one big ball of cotton candy. But I am happy, and I am just now becoming aware of my happiness.

Nearly four years ago, I moved out of my house – with my husband still in it – and started my life over. I hated every minute of it, and I honestly thought my life had all but ended. Every concept that had defined me, wife and mother, was no longer there.

My children were grown and gone, and my role as wife had “expired.” I wasn’t sure I had the capacity to start over without completely losing my previous roles in life. I wanted to be a wife and a mother in an intact family, and giving up on that dream nearly did me in.

But now, now I am happy. I willed myself to be happy, even at times when that was the farthest thing from the truth.

Here are some of the ways that I can tell I am happy, and I am guessing that if you are experiencing any of these – you are, too.

I Sleep, Then I Wake Up

Sounds very simple, doesn’t it? Well, it was anything but simple for me for the last few decades. I have known so many women over the years who just couldn’t sleep – and it was no wonder, with babies and children who turned into teenagers.

Also, by nature, a mother never sleeps soundly for the rest of her life. But I have been chronically awake for many years since my children left the nest.

I tried medication and meditation and still got very little sleep. With happiness came sleep. Happy sleep. The kind of sleep that allows me to wake up in the middle of the night and go back to sleep rather than ruminate over what was happening in my married life.

When I moved into an apartment by myself, it took a long time for me to adjust and to feel comfortable sleeping alone in my own bed. Want to know how I like it now? It is the bomb! I go to bed and I fall asleep. There is no one there to wake me up, so I stay asleep. Then, when morning hits, I wake up. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

I Am Happy with My Downtime and I Am Just Busy Enough

Everyone needs to feel needed. Everyone needs to feel necessary. And everyone needs to feel like part of the world. It isn’t healthy for anyone to continually be on vacation, but filling every hour of the day is worse.

In my younger years, I felt that if I wasn’t super busy I wasn’t relevant. I had no value. Now, I don’t want to have any value!

I want to be the least valuable person in the room! I have nothing to prove, so I don’t keep adding more to my plate. I say no to requests for my time. I am happy not being super busy: it made me grouchy.

I am active physically and still active in the community, but I just don’t care about being so busy that I have no time to myself. As a matter of fact, I say no to invitations when I need a little break. I know that I am happier when I am not so overbooked.

I Look Forward to the Weekend

I must admit that when I decided to be single again, and started living in my little one-room loft, I hated to see the weekend come. I was lonely, even though I had lots of friends who included me in their plans. Sooner or later I had to go home, and home was just me.

For more than 30 years home had been me and my husband, and while he was not the great communicator, he was a living, breathing body on the other side of the bed. He was there to have breakfast with and to watch a game with or go to a movie with.

Now single, it was not unusual for me to be sitting in my apartment on Friday night and have no plans until workout class Monday morning. That was tough.

Maybe I am just used to my new normal, but if I have one activity to look forward to on the weekend, I am a happy camper. Now when I go home I am not lonely, I am just alone, and that is OK.

I Don’t Miss My Children Every Second

When my marriage ended, I felt at loose ends. I had been so used to being the go-to person for everything. Our family revolved around me: I was the connector to all travel, holidays, birthdays, scheduling, etc.

So, when the marriage came to an end, so did that “job.” I missed my children every second, maybe because they were now my entire family, my safe haven. They were my everything.

It wasn’t that fun for them to be my everything! I knew that at the time, but I had to hold on to them for a while until I got my footing. Until I became stable again. But let me tell you, I hung on their every word, every movement, for a long time. And now, I can let them catch their breath.

I love any little bone they throw my way, but they are not 100% of my life, nor should they be. They were my lifeboat for a while, and I am so lucky to have had them there to hold me up until I hit land.

I Smile for No Reason

Embarrassing but true, I find myself smiling while I am walking the dog. I believe people think I am on earbuds, listening to someone on the phone, but I am not. I am just smiling.

I might be thinking about something or someone, and I realize I have a smile on my face. In my marriage, there weren’t many genuine smiles to be had. I always had to fake it. And now, I am smiling for nothing? I’ve come a long way, baby!

I Throw My Hat in the Air Each Time I Walk Out of My Apartment

Sometimes I feel just like Mary Tyler Moore when I am walking out of my apartment. I might just throw my hat in the air for effect. I am happy to be healthy and alive and vital. I have just enough free time. I exercise and work and go to movies and listen to music and do all the things that make me happy. Mary Richards has nothing on me.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you happy with your life? What do you do to demonstrate that you are happy? What things have you done since you got divorced that changed your life? Please share your thoughts and experiences!

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The Author

After a 30-year marriage crumbled, Paula Harer found herself single for the first time in 35 years. She felt like she had something to say about her experience, so started writing a blog called Starting Over at Sixty She addresses everything from loneliness and reinvention and offers ways to create a new outlook on life.

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