Q: What are ways women can embrace life changes and maintain happiness as they age?
A.When faced with the physical and social changes of aging, the question is not so much how to maintain happiness, but rather “what is happiness to me now?”
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Asking how you define happiness now can be an unsettling question in many ways. Maybe you’ve defined yourself through others who are now moving on. Or maybe you’ve been limited by how others define you. Perhaps you have suffered in ways that make happiness seem remote.
As you turn within, what you find may surprise you.
Aging can be both a distillation, concentrating together your life experiences with qualities you’ve had since childhood, and also an expansion, finding meaning in your life that transcends change. Successful aging means not being afraid to re-examine how you have defined happiness in the past, while also living in the moment and savoring the unique qualities of how you define it now.
When I’m working with a patient and we hit on a moment of well-being during psychotherapy, I sometimes coach him or her to “inhale the feeling as if it were a fragrance.” This gives a more sensory experience to the act of savoring, and helps to link it to the act of deep breathing/relaxation.
Keep in mind that anything you do to maintain your vitality and mobility gives you the widest range of choices in living out your definition of happiness. In this way, keeping your body in its best possible state of health is connected to your ability to broaden your feelings of contentment.
Through the many changes of aging, the power of defining your happiness stays with you. What’s your measure of a good day today?
— Psychologist Karen Hurley, PhD