Redefining Happiness at Midlife

Group of Happy Middle Aged Women Friends.

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Happiness or pleasure? Which one are you chasing? There is a difference. And it’s a big one.

Society has convinced us that happiness and pleasure are the same thing. Chasing pleasure will never bring you true happiness. Pleasure gives you an emotional high that is fleeting.

Dopamine, the happy hormone, makes us feel good so we do something else for another hit. We get addicted to it and become pleasure-seeking junkies.

True happiness is having a calm and peaceful state of mind. Your state of mind is created by your emotions. Your emotions are created by your actions. And your actions are created by your thoughts. 

You will not finally be happy once you fall in love, get married, get divorced, travel more, make more money, have more friends, get a promotion, get a degree, get one more degree,  retire, buy a bigger house, become an entrepreneur, have successful children, or become an empty nester.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But these things will not bring you true happiness.  Stop putting your life on hold for some external event.

Self-Awareness Matters

External things won’t bring you true happiness. But chasing the wrong things will affect your state of mind in a negative way.

I had a list. You know, the list that we keep of things we want to accomplish by 30, 40, 50, etc

My insecurities made me pursue things for the approval of others. I was checking the boxes. Woot woot!! But guess what? Many of the things on my list brought me pain, misery, and many sleepless nights. Then it finally dawned on me.

Unhappy Woman. Stressed Woman. Underachiever.

 I was the cause of my own unhappiness because I lacked self-awareness. 

Self-awareness is understanding your character, strengths, weaknesses, motivations, desires, and feelings. 

Do you have a list? Are you passionate about the things on your list? It’s your life. Do what you love. You won’t ever be happy living your life to please other people. 

Get clarity on who you are so you can create a happier and more meaningful life.

Take an honest assessment of your gifts, talents, and abilities. Then make changes that move you towards living a more authentic life. 

Become self-aware. Create a plan. Take action. You don’t have to settle for merely existing. It’s time to take control and start living again. You deserve to be happy.

Keys to True Happiness

Increase your level of happiness by adding a few simple things to your life. Ready to start? Here we go!

1. Self-Acceptance

Love and accept yourself as you are, flaws and all. Challenge your inner critic. Know that you are a beautiful soul and you are enough. Self-awareness leads to self-acceptance. True happiness lies within your ability to accept yourself without judgment.

Self-Love at Middle Age. Self-Acceptance at MIddle Age.

2. Practice Random Acts of Kindness 

Do something for someone else without expecting anything in return. Here are some random acts of kindness to get you started.                             

-Be courteous

  • Smile more
  • Hold the door open for someone
  • Say “please” and “thank you”

-Give a stranger a compliment

-Donate/Volunteer for a cause you care about

-Pay it forward

  • Buy a cup of coffee for a stranger
  • Leave extra coins in the vending machine
  • Feed a parking meter that has expired

3. Meditate

Meditation provides a sense of peace and calmness. It helps you become more aware of your state of mind. My favorite is the loving-kindness meditation. It helps us feel more love and kindness towards ourselves and others.

  1. Start by sitting comfortably. 
  2. Take a few deep breaths.
  3. Relax your body.
  4. Place your hands over your heart.
  5. Offer loving-kindness to yourself by slowly repeating the following: 
  • May I be happy. 
  • May I be peaceful. 
  • May I be healthy. 
  • May I be loved. 
  • May I be at ease. 
  • May I be well.

Offer loving-kindness to someone by replacing ‘I’ with the person’s name.

4. Start a Gratitude Journal

Focus on the good in your life and you will get more of it. Be thankful for your blessings. Want what you have instead of complaining about what you don’t have. List 3 things that you are grateful for every day. Feel grateful.

I am grateful for ___________.

Start where you are. You are alive, you have a place to sleep, and you can read. Don’t take these things for granted.

5. Live a Healthy Lifestyle

What you eat affects your mood and level of happiness.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Stay hydrated. Eat more plant-based foods. Plant-based foods have more nutrients and will boost your mood and happiness. 

Woman preparing a healthy plant-based meal.

Regular exercise helps you feel better about yourself. It reduces stress, boosts your mood and energy, and improves your quality of sleep.

6.  Be Optimistic

See the glass half-full. Being optimistic helps you handle difficult people and circumstances. Optimistic people don’t ask ‘why me’ they ask ‘what is this here to teach me.’

7.  Listen to Music

Music increases your happiness and lowers your stress level. Music is also known to help you sleep better. Some of my favorite artists are Bob Marley, Dave Koz, Kenny G, and Tchaikovsky.

Woman relaxing while listening to music.

8. Be Connected 

Nurture positive relationships. Focus on quality, not quantity. Meaningful relationships help us live a fulfilled life.

Spend time in nature. Being in nature reduces negative emotions and improves your well-being.

9. Practice Mindfulness

Be fully present in your life. Live in the moment. Don’t focus on what was or what will be. Focus on the present moment. Be free of judgment and attachment. Choose to be present over perfect.

Happiness is a Priority

True happiness is not a destination. It is a state of mind. Be intentional about your emotions, actions, and thoughts because they create your state of mind. 

Cultivate more love, compassion, and acceptance towards yourself and others. 

Dance like no one is watching. Stop worrying about what other people think about you.

Woman dancing like no one's watching.

Choose to be happy each day. It won’t be easy. But I think you’ll agree with me when I say it’s necessary. 

True happiness is the way to success. Do more of what makes you happy. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to be successful. Your best life is waiting. You got this! Take Action Now!

Middle age women smiling and supporting each other.


  1. June 6, 2020 / 7:43 pm

    Great post! Good reminders, especially for those of us feeling overwhelmed.

    • Jeanell
      July 7, 2020 / 11:56 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed it Michele!

  2. May 16, 2019 / 10:18 pm

    A lot of great thoughts about true happiness; you put a lot of thought into this posr

    • Jeanell
      May 17, 2019 / 1:02 pm

      Thanks Susan!

    • September 14, 2019 / 2:21 pm

      Agreed! I feel like I’ve found my soul-sister in Jeanell. Of course, I’m the older sister. 🙂 I wish I had this kind of knowledge when I was her age!

  3. May 16, 2019 / 12:28 am

    I love this. I work with my teens (foster care) almost every day about some of this. Of course… they aren’t midlife, but it’s never too early, right? 🙂

    • Jeanell
      May 17, 2019 / 1:25 pm

      Yes, I agree. It’s never too early to teach kids about true happiness. If we don’t teach them, they will get caught up in chasing people and things that will never bring them true happiness. They are blessed to have you in their lives. ❤️

  4. May 15, 2019 / 12:09 pm

    I love this and have learned the lessons of chasing “success’ vs. accepting myself and focusing on true happiness. I finally feel it now, in my forties and plan to live the rest of my years as my best self, as defined by ME. I wish us experienced women could find a way to share these lessons with younger women because they are truly life changing. Thank you for the encouragement and valuable reminders!

    • Jeanell
      May 17, 2019 / 9:12 pm

      You are most welcome. I’m glad that you are living life on your own terms now. Being yourself is so freeing. Yes, I agree that we should find ways to share our experiences with younger women. They can learn a lot from our personal stories of struggle and triumph. ❤️

    • Jeanell
      May 17, 2019 / 1:12 pm

      Thanks Christine!

  5. May 15, 2019 / 8:48 am

    I would like to add building a life you love, one day at a time. I have noticed a great amount of happiness once I started doing what I love.

    • Jeanell
      May 17, 2019 / 1:42 pm

      I agree with you, and I’m glad that your level of happiness has increased!

  6. May 15, 2019 / 6:49 am

    I love this! True happiness or what I refer to as my joy comes from within. It’s knowing you have the love of God in your life. All of those other pleasures are secondary. Great post!

    • Jeanell
      May 17, 2019 / 1:47 pm

      Yes! There were many days where my faith was all I had to hold onto.

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