Read on how to enrich your life by purpose, i.e. to find depth and, a reason to get out of bed each morning, your own Ikigai.
Busy working women saddled with multiple responsibilities often end up feeling a dull unhappiness in their lives. Here are positive suggestions to take charge.
A middle aged woman like me – with bags of extra weight around my tummy, after taking a number of risks with my career, managing to be upright and going, with an adolescent daughter bursting like a tinder box, elderly parents with queries and suggestions, and an ever travelling husband – should not have much to be happy about.
This is common among most middle aged, middle class, mid-level Indian working women. We are burdened with work and home responsibilities. We are continuously worried about our low yielding jobs, piles of household chores, our kids’ studies, the well being of the entire family, the lack of time and ignorance from our partners…
In many cases, it is sad to see how we have lost the dreams, hobbies and friends we once had. Is there a way to break the cycle of being unhappy? Yes, it is possible!
Let’s take charge and not let others meddle with our happiness quotient. Here are some things that have worked for me.
Learn what makes us unhappy and why. Each day, we pass through entangled moments like the morning rush, evening traffic, after-office hunger pangs, dinner dilemma with kids, meetings with difficult colleagues – all leading to unhappiness in us. Being observant to what makes us unhappy helps in creating our own treasure box of happiness.
A rejection in an interview, not getting the desired promotion, arrogance in a child, ill parents – all these can create extreme sadness in us. Please show that and don’t plaster a smile on your face all the time. We must admit that being unhappy is an equal and opposite state of being happy and there will be times where we would be unhappy. Period.
Analyze whether you like to get into new situations in life, if you are constantly worried about doing things perfectly, if you cannot take a little criticism in your face, if you cannot speak up and absorb all the comments, or are you always critical of others? Be aware about the details of your personality and whether that is turning you into an unhappy person. Try changing your focus from what others are doing wrong to what you can do right.
By the time we reach middle age, we face many issues that are cropping up for the second time in our lives like a second pregnancy, another new job, husband going for an onsite assignment again. It is important not to fall into the same unhappy trap from last time. Make notes of the experiences from the last time and find a solution for that. You may get new triggers this time but the old ones could be handled better with proper planning.
An ‘alone walk’ in the fresh air or some stretches of zumba can shoot up your happy hormones. Walking with your partner a few days a week gives you that much needed bonding time and some moments to laugh out loud together. Avoid taking calls and discussing home or office at this time. The weather, the neighbour’s dog, or the political status of India can be good topics to discuss while walking with your spouse. Believe me, this will enhance your knowledge on current affairs and you will be able to bond immediately with your colleagues the next day at work! Your husband will ask you to come for a walk the next day too!
When in a sticky situation, distance yourself and take your mind off to the happy times of your life. It is a vital exercise to control our thoughts. Practice the game where you will think about your worries only for 10 minutes and then move on mindfully, start working on your ongoing project, make a list, or listen to music. Watch how the unhappy clouds float by.
By the time we reach middle age, we may have a chronic illness or become stagnant at our work. Instead of cribbing about it all the time, we should focus on solving it. A problem is as big as we see it. If we move our focus to the solution, the problem starts breaking up into small chunks. Initiate working on smaller parts of the problems; write down the milestones and your thoughts on it. An analytical, reason based approach to any problem helps in coming out of an unhappy mood.
Often, irritation creeps in because of endless chores; we don’t need to do it all. Don’t just expect but ask your husband to cook (whenever he is around!) and ask him to take care of the laundry too. When delegating tasks to others, avoid being over critical or mocking. Let the child perform age appropriate chores. Let them be interested in growing up through daily chores. Put your foot down when your mother-in-law or mother tries to hinder this practice with her tender love and care. Instruct others to do stuff and stop being a micro manager.
Do you remember what you liked to do as a little girl? Start doing that again; it can be doodling, singing, or dancing. Find out activities that makes you smile and do them anyway. Reach out to others and form a group of listeners with no judgments for each other. Stop cribbing about all the work you have to do all the time; rather stop doing it at times, see how quick the effect is.
You have been conscious of what you are eating since you were a teenager – no wonder you are an unhappy soul! After all, eating satisfies our basic needs. It is okay to be fat and round as long as you are fit. Learn guilt -free eating.
It is okay to say sorry at times and see how the whole castle of ego and sadness breaks down with this word. Not that you say sorry all the time but sometimes yes, say sorry and move on.
There is an invisible atmosphere for women to adjust with the situation they are in and that is why it does not change for us. Let’s start adjusting a little less and find more value in living; happiness will be the obvious by-product.
It is easy to fall into the cracks that life brings but let’s refuse to do so with our stubbornness and strong will. Let’s embrace every small opportunity to be happy, be it a daily sunset or the first droplets of the monsoon rains.
Image of woman reading via Shutterstock
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