Life advice for your 40s: how to rewrite your story

Our 40s are a period of reflection. As we come up for air from the first half of our life, we then begin to wonder what we should do with our lives in the next half? There are lessons to be learned, changes to be made, and a whole bunch of potential awaits, for both late-bloomers and people who have been living it large already. So what’s the life advice for your 40s you need to know? We spoke to, Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse, master storyteller, who has devoted her life to helping others rewrite their stories whose latest book Storytelling Legacy: Everyone Has Stories—What are Yours? to get her essential life advice for your 40s, as well as her perspective on what being a woman in her 40s in today’s world looks like with the benefits of hindsight.

What are some things you would go back and tell your 40-something year own self? 

At 40, be very good to yourself. Self-care (sleep, regular eating, lots of exercise and healthy connections) will determine how the rest of your life will go.  40’s and 50’s are “turning point” ages. 

What are some of the biggest issues women in their 40s are facing today? 

Overwhelm, not enough time, clock ticking in relationships, life is operating “at its peak”. 

What can we do about them?

Remembering that overwhelm is simply a sign of “not” making enough choices, clutter is about “not making choices” and not enough hours in the days is about “not making enough choices”.  Theme here, “go forward and choose along the way”. It means getting comfortable with “letting go “ of people, activities and things. 

advice for your 40s

What are some life lessons you’d like to impart on women turning or progressing into their 40s? 

Simplify.  In order to find all the good things and the things that make you happy, your job is to “make room” by living more simply. 

What is the best way to conquer your 40s? 

Don’t see them as “something to conquer”. I see the forties as rich time to change direction and look forward to each decade as it comes along. Sometimes the best focus for the 40’s is to turn the sail of your private ship and decide which directions (s) you want to go. 

What are some of the things we should do before turning 50?  

The best tools are daily exercise goals, getting one’s body ready for the next few decades, let go of worn out relationships and make plans for the next chapter in life.  The 40’s are the perfect evaluation, choices and directions you want for yourself as the ships starts sailing in a new direction. 

What should we stop doing in our 40s? 

Hanging on to old relationships from which one has grown, hanging on to lifestyles that aren’t preparing for a healthy future.  Buying things that one will need to downsize from in the 40’s and 50’s.  This is not a good time to accumulate. It is a time to evaluate. 

advice for your 40s

Any advice for women wanting to totally rewrite their own story in their 40s?

I would suggest that the 40’s is a perfect time to rewrite one’s life.  Take each of your past experiences. Choose to either celebrate it, document it (pictures, videos and stories) and hang on to them, and also know what, who and how to eliminate what you don’t want to repeat, take along or plan to enjoy.  This is the evaluation decade. 

Do you have any particular story you would like to share which you think would resonate with our readership?

My forties were the end and the beginning of many things.  It was the end of accumulating things of no current value or sparks of joy. It is important to understand that I have kept many things and some are reaching vintage.  However, I don’t keep anything that doesn’t invoke a “spark of joy”.  

The forties were also the time that I cemented in my “need to exercise and move”.  Whether I was in my neighborhood, along a country road, living in a city or sailing on a ship. walking each day became as regular as brushing my teeth.  I still walk 2 miles a day and if all my miles were laid out in a row, maybe I’ve walked across the US.  It is as familiar as breathing. It was the time that I decided to never work again. Mind you, there have been many 12 hour days of work, but I don’t consider it work IF I love what I am doing. That way my activities become my passion and I am very passionate about life.   

One of my favourite stories is:  Walking through an airport in Chicago, a little boy came running up to me and said, “you are the lady in the red dress”.  I said “yes, I am”.  At that time, I had made a movie and made a decision to always wear something bright and different in each major presentation I made publicly. I could repeat the outfits, but each was chosen for a reason.    Never again, did I wear grey, brown or anything dull.  Later in life, I kept the same plan for zoom calls, interviews, family movies etc.  Women and children may not always hear or be interested in “what you said”, but they rarely forgot what you wore. I was also the lady with the striped green and white dress who wore glasses that also had green and white frames. The moral of this story is “stand out, own your space and enjoy it”.  You matter! 

Anything more life advice for your 40s to add? 

Enjoy the 40’s and remember.  “You are the captain of “your ship”.   Sail away! 

Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse has devoted her life to helping others rewrite their stories, and is a master storyteller. In her latest book, Storytelling Legacy: Everyone Has Stories—What are Yours?, Sharon finally shares her story, with tales of celebrity, culture, humor, spirituality, travels and much more. She is a nationally known consultant, family therapist and author of 23 books on everything from personal development to relationships to caregiving.

What to know before adopting in your 40s

Adopting a child can be a wonderful and rewarding experience however, sometimes the process can be complicated. In this article, we’re going to discuss what you need to know before adopting in your 40s.

Some people may wish to spend the first 40 years of their lives focusing on themselves rather than having children. Perhaps they wanted to spend their younger years travelling, focusing on their career, or spending quality time with a family, friends or even a love interest. 

You might get to a point later down the line where you decide you want to have children, and that’s okay. It comes as no surprise that having children in your 40s is later than most others, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to do. There are many options available to those wanting to start or grow their family, including pregnancy, surrogacy, or even adoption. 

While adoption is a fantastic way to provide a safe and loving home for a child, the process can be complicated, but there are also many things to know about adopting in your 40s. To ensure everything is handled correctly, seeking guidance from a family law solicitors is recommended. To learn more about adopting in your 40s, keep reading… 

Is Adopting in Your 40s Fair to the Child? 

Unfortunately, older parents are often subject to criticism from other parents and professionals for having children later in life, but does that mean it is unfair to the child? 

Many people are now living till they’re 81. Meaning there is a high possibility of 40-plus years spent with your child. It is, however, realistic to say that life circumstances can undoubtedly alter and that none of us know what the future has in line for us. However, these unforeseeable situations shouldn’t prevent you from starting your own family nor does it mean that it will be unfair to the child if you adopt in your 40s. 

What do You Need to Know Before Adopting a Child in Your 40s?

There is no Upper Age Limit 

There is a common misconception that there is an age limit when it comes to adopting, but this is a complete myth. There is no upper age limit to adopting a child. So long as the person adopting a child is in good health and has the energy to provide appropriate care for a child, they should be eligible to adopt. 

However, it is worth keeping in mind that there are some situations where, if you are in your 40s that you may be matched with an older child rather than a baby or a younger child. 

You Are Not Alone 

If you have never had a child previously, it can be quite scary being a first-time parent with no idea what to expect, especially if you are older than the average parent. 

It is easy to feel like you are alone in your late parenthood and that you can’t relate to other parents because you are not in the same age bracket, but this is far from the truth. More than ever are individuals choosing to have children later in life, focusing on other aspects, such as their career, buying property, building wealth, travelling and more. 

An article posted in 2013 on Coram stated, “66% of parents who adopted through Coram in the last five years were aged 40 and over.” While this was released nine years ago, another article posted on the Independent in 2020 after statistics were released from the Office for National Statistics suggests a similar thing, with about half of women born in 1989 not being mothers. This shows that even seven years later, many people choose to have children later in life. 

The Adoption Process Can be Lengthy 

If you do decide to proceed forward with adopting a child, it’s wise to note that the process of adoption can take a considerable amount of time, meaning while you are currently a certain age, by the time your adoption is finalised, you could be a couple of years older. 

This does, however, completely depend on the circumstances of the adoption. On average, a straightforward adoption takes between six to 12 months, but it is highly likely that the process could take even longer in some situations. 

There Are Lots of Steps Involved

Before you can adopt a child, there are a number of steps involved in the process to ensure that you are suitable and fit to be an adoptive parent. Examples of the adoption steps include: 

  • Assessments
  • Training 
  • Series of home visits

You can learn more about the adoption process on first4adoption to help you prepare.  

Being in Your 40s is Not Too Old to Adopt 

What we can conclude from this article is that while adopting a child is a big commitment at any age, being in your 40s doesn’t mean you are any less able than other parents who are perhaps younger. 

The process of adoption remains the same, there are no extra checks, and most importantly, you aren’t alone. Thousands of other parents are in their 40s and becoming first-time parents. 

Have you adopted a child later in life? What are your suggestions to other parents looking to do the same? Let us know in the comment box below.

Photos by Kenny Eliason, Picsea, Guillaume de Germain from Unsplash

Toxic positivity – when “good vibes only” can actually put you down instead of raise you up

Have you heard of toxic positivity? What about “good vibes only” – one of the most popular captions on social media.

These days we can even buy posters of ‘’good vibes only’’, there are glasses, neon signs, t shirts, and massage tools with the slogan. The whole culture of the ‘’good vibes only’’. There are ‘’good vibes only’ gurus, shamans and mentors – people who are preaching positive thinking as a remedy for everything and over anything:

‘’You are what you think right?! That’s how the law of attraction and law of vibration work, so you better cheer up!’’

It is enough to scroll through Instagram or Tik Tok which are full of coaches and gurus telling us we must be positive, and only positive at all times.

Can this culture of ‘’being happy and positive’’ and always ‘’vibrating high’’ be damaging to us?

It’s not natural to be happy all the time

Oh yes, if applied in a wrong way it is very unhealthy. Do not get me wrong, I am a mindset and high performance coach and I work with my clients to help them to optimise their performance through expansion of their mindset. Yes, having a positive, creative and grateful mindset is a fantastic thing but it is impossible and not natural to be happy, with the good vibe only at all times.

By definition, toxic positivity is the overgeneralisation of a happy, optimistic state that results in denial, minimalization and invalidation of the authentic human experience.

Why is it so unhealthy? Because by forcing ourselves to constantly be happy and positive we are suppressing or denying our own emotions, but  we can feel lots at the same time. For example, I can be very satisfied and positive with my career but sad and hurting at the same time with the grief of losing a close family member.

Dealing with sadness and grief should not involve pretending that everything needs to be positive and happy but it should involve getting in touch with our own feelings and emotions and living through them. That’s the healthy way. Of course, going into another extreme and focusing too much on the negative emotions and events is unhealthy as well as the nature loves a balance.

The guilt trap

Toxic positivity can also cause guilt which is then causes stress, anxiety and depression which in turn affects our self esteem. When we are feeling under strong pressure to be ‘’positive’’ at all times, we then feel guilty when having sad or moody days. And those days happen to all of us, even  ‘’happiness gurus’’ from social networking sites.

Being positive doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t think of bad things which can happen, rather it means we are clear on and focusing on the best possible scenario and that’s where we focus majority of our energy. Is like getting into a car for journey. You assume and prepare to get to your destination. You don’t actually plan for a traffic accident, rather you check the map, put a post code in and buckle your seat belt.

To compare the same journey in line with ‘’toxic positivity’’, you would be as getting in a car drunk, with sunglasses on at night driving up the motorway against the direction of traffic as nothing negative existed or could harm us.

Recognising toxic positivity

Here are some signs on how recognise when our positive constructive approach is becoming ‘’toxic positivity’’:

  1. You are masking and hiding your feelings – that smiley face with ‘’everything happens for a reason’’ should not be the response to trauma or upset. Get your emotions out, don’t supress them, feel them and  look for the lessons after that event.
  2. You feel shame and guilt for not being positive, or seeing the bright side in the particular situation. Being guilty for feeling down will not uplift your emotions, actually will put you down. It is helpful to talk or journal about what you actually feel. Allowing yourself to go through it and giving yourself permission to feel is powerful too.
  3. You brush things under the carpet and pretending they don’t matter “It is what it is”) . This behaviour is toxic and when you recognise doing it, it is good to stop and consciously reflect on what actually bothers you. Feel it, think about it. If is a dilemma you are avoiding instead of avoiding it, use a very helpful positive psychology exercise and write down minimum five various scenarios for your outcomes. You will feel the shift immediately.

Toxic positivity can also come from others: Here is how to recognise it:

  1. When someone is trying to minimalise your experience with ‘’feel good’’ quotes and statements. I once listened to a self-proclaimed positivity coach who was telling everyone that they need to be positive and affirm it all the time, throwing quotes and sayings as that would be the only way to deal with their challenges. In reality she was dismissing her own and others feelings emotions, and experiences, and making people feeling guilty and frustrated. When someone is trying to do this to you, please remember it is ok not to be ok, and move away from them.
  2. At times people will try to give you the perspective that it a ‘’could be worst’’ approach. They are dismissing your feelings and emotions by indicating that there are other things you should be happy for. The truth is that trauma and hurt are very personal and we can not compare the impact it makes on each of us. The event might seem more or less severe but your emotions are yours and no one should disrespect it or force you not to feel because they think you should feel otherwise.
  3. Shaming others for feeling frustrations, fear or sadness – basically anything other than positive emotions is another sign of “toxic positivity”. We are humans and we are designed to feel all emotions -they are fantastic indicators for us. Of course it is not healthy to be focussing or intentionally dwelling on the negatives but you don’t need to feel obliged to ‘’cheer up’’ because someone told you so.

The importance of acknowledging feelings and emotions

Several psychological studies show us that hiding or denying feelings leads to more stress to the body and increases difficulty in dealing with further distressing thoughts and feelings.

That’s why it is so important for our mental and physical health to acknowledge our feelings and emotions, feel them, and verbalise them.

That’s what keeps us balanced and healthy. By honouring our feelings, we embrace and accept all of ourselves, and live as authentic us.

It is good to manage your negative emotions but make sure you don’t deny them. We need to be realistic about what we feel and at tough time practice self-care, not “good vibes only” attitude. Notice and be aware of how you feel and listen to others, and show them support. Remember we don’t have to act on every emotion. At times we need to sit with it, give yourself some space to reflect and if possible, vocalise it by talking to a friend or journaling. Learn to notice ‘’toxic positivity’’ and give yourself and other permission to feel both positive and negative emotions. We need to make sure we live our life in balance, feeling and allowing all of our emotions while maintaining a healthy and positive mindset.

Olga Kublik is a Mindset and Performance Coach, find out more at olgakublik.com.

Image by rawpixel.com

Broken Britain: How to deal with the frustration of backlog Britain

I am sure I am not the only one to have noticed that good old Blighty seems to be a massive shambles of late. Just when we thought we were emerging from the pandemic, so did our blessed country decide to practically fall apart at the seams – otherwise known as broken Britain.

Try to get a new passport- sorry you’ll have to wait! Try to get on a flight – it will be cancelled. Try to get a train somewhere – there will be industrial action. Try to get a medical referral – get in line, that will be 2024 thank you! And no you can’t buy that thing on your shopping list as it is currently out of stock until god only knows what date or is now three times more expensive. If you want to get something done, then backlog Britain – or broken Britain as I like to call it – will definitely not have the answer for you, and instead will just deliver one big collective exasperated eyeroll or heaving sigh as we deal with the farcical frustration of it all.

Yes not only are we also having to deal with the massive cost of living crisis and things becoming ridiculously expensive, but we are wondering what the point of leaving the house at all is because a) It will cost us a fortune and b) The outside world is apparently broken anyway thanks to broken Britain.

So when we are met with despair and dysfunction practically everywhere we turn, how can we effectively take it on the chin and not let the shambolic state of our country get to us?

We tapped Marisa Peer, world-renowned therapist and best-selling author who shared her insights and tips with us here.

Ukraine, Covid, global warming as well as polarizing politics have dominated our lives for the past decade as well as Brexit, Partygate and NHS backlogs. Dealing with one major upheaval is challenging enough to our mental wellbeing but this relentless series of catastrophes, seamlessly blending into each other has been described as a permacrisis. Levels of anxiety are soaring not only in the UK but globally and there is no immediate end in sight.

Most of us in the Western world have been fortunate enough to grow up with a feeling of  certainty and that sense of security is a real human need.  Certainty that we are safe, that life on the whole is good and has its rewards. Global events would register on our radar from time to time, but life had a comforting routine to it which we could rely on like a young child relies on a parent. But now that parent is out of control  creating a feeling of abandonment and isolation. This unpredictability makes us humans feel anxious, worried and depressed. The future no longer seems a given. That is truly unsettling and many adults are suffering from crisis fatigue.

Many of our RTT therapists have noticed an increase in people asking for help for anxiety. Last year we held a global anxiety symposium and have also developed protocols for our therapists to help them specifically deal with this burgeoning issue.

When the world seems uncertain you have to focus on your own certainty. The certainty that  you are the same person, the same parent, friend, spouse, employee and employer. When you can focus on what is the same in your life rather than what is different, you will have better coping skills. 

It’s a rule of your mind that whatever you focus on, you get more of so focus on what is still good and remind yourself that life will eventually return to normal even if it means we have to adapt to change. This is vital if you have small children. We are wired to fear change in case it’s a change for the worse and not the better. 

To help people deal with the permacrisis, Marisa has put together a free meditation session which people can download here to help with relaxation, sleep and to put things into a more manageable perspective. 

Tips to keep anxiety to a minimum

Perspective and gratitude

Looking at the terrible events in the Ukraine puts minor problems into perspective. Living with gratitude is a powerful way to be. Take time to stop and reflect on all you have to be grateful for each day, or start a gratitude journal. 

Focus on the good

It’s a rule of your mind that whatever you focus on, you get more of; so focus on what is good in your life. Remind yourself that after past catastrophes and disasters, life does return to normal. 

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Side-step the negative

Avoid doom-scrolling and don’t keep the news on in the background, as even when you’re not actively listening you are absorbing these messages. 

Focus on certainty

Instead of fearing uncertainty, focus on your own certainty that despite what’s happening there are constants in your life. This will strengthen your coping skills. 

Breathe!

When overwhelmed, just stop and take a minute to breathe. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. This is a great way to bring yourself back into the moment and break the fear cycle.

Connect to yourself

Be mindful of what you are experiencing – acknowledge what you are thinking and feeling and where in your body you are experiencing a physical reaction. By observing what’s happening, rather than repressing it, you will find you work through things much quicker.

Live in the now

Anxiety is usually a response to a fear of things that may happen, but most likely never will. Instead of focusing on the what ifs, take each moment as it comes and deal with the reality of what emerges.

Prioritise self-care

Self-care is so important and boosts resilience. Take time out for yourself each day to stop, relax and reflect. Do something you love, or anything that helps shift your energy and mood. Take a walk, play music, dance – it doesn’t need to be complicated!

Ask for help

If you are struggling, ask for help – whether this be from friends and family,  through a support group or from a therapist. Feeling connected and sharing your fears and worries helps you avoid feeling alone in what you are experiencing.

Be proactive

Feeling helpless can lead to anxiety, so do anything you can to help by donating or offering services. Get involved in your community so you have a focus and sense of purpose – be part of the solution, rather than the problem

Have you been feeling frustrated by broken Britain recently? Or perhaps you are living elsewhere in the world and can share a different perspective? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Images by rawpixel.com

Create a roadmap to change your life with the 7 stages or purpose

Are you hoping to change your life? For many people, their 40s is when they reflect on relationships, friends, and things like work/life balance – a time to assess where they are. For others, it is a time when they’ve really hit their stride, and often this is because they have found their purpose.

Look at 46-year-old actress and filmmaker Reese Witherspoon. A few years ago, she founded the production company Pacific Standard—which is now a subsidiary of her media company Hello Sunshine—to share stories written by women, with a female lead, brought to the screen by women. As Reese pitched her business venture to investors, she was informed that no one would want to watch films with a female lead, that this was not a profitable venture. She invested her own money, which she was also told was a mistake.

But with a purpose to share women’s stories on the big screen to change the narrative of women in US culture, Reese Witherspoon’s first two film productions with female leads, Wild and Gone Girl, grossed half a billion dollars. She also produced the hugely successful TV series Big Little Lies, The Morning Show, Little Fires Everywhere, and the film from the best-selling book Where the Crawdad Sings is due for release in July 2022. 

We are all born with a purpose. As unique as your fingerprint, it is held within your heart, your reason for being, your north star. With your purpose placed at the heart of your life you benefit from clarity of focus and direction. On the occasions self-doubt creeps in, purpose empowers you. Decisions become easier as you choose the path aligned with the fulfilment of your purpose.

Your purpose doesn’t arrive one day ‘boom!’ fully formed, expressed, and embodied. There are recognisable stages to the growth and development of your purpose. These stages are not linear. You may experience more than one stage at a time, and some stages last longer than others. And when you become aware of the stage you are at, you have a map and can more easily participate in your purpose being fulfilled.

Here are the seven stages of purpose. Use these to create a roadmap to change your life. Take a look and decide where you are, and this will help you define the next steps you need to take towards your true purpose and passion.

The 7 stages of purpose to help your change your life

1. Calling

You sense you have a bigger purpose than what is currently being expressed. There may be a sense of ‘something’ missing, a frustration, a sensation pulling you towards ‘something’ you can’t quite understand, it is led by a desire for more – more meaning, contribution and impact.

Simon Haas, yoga philosopher and author of The Book of Dharma and Yoga and Dark Night of the Soul shares that your purpose emerges naturally when you live your true nature.

This is echoed by Jill Ellis, former coach of the USA Women’s Soccer Team sharing the experience of opening up to her team that she was married to Betsy Stephenson, a woman. Fully supported, the US women’s team went on to campaign for equal pay for women using the World Cup as their global platform. Jill said: “When I became open in who I was, I found my purpose there.”

When you experience a calling, practice bringing more of your true nature into your life every day, and as you do, your purpose is revealed to you.

2. Receive

As you follow your true nature, you begin to receive a sense of your purpose, the more you receive the clearer it becomes. At this stage, stay curious. Don’t deny it or push it away. Embrace and begin to own your purpose.

change your life

3. Articulate

As you embrace your purpose, articulate it in a few simple words that inspire and resonate with your heart. The simpler the better. For example, TheTeen Yoga Foundation has a purpose to empower young people through yoga so that there’s a generation of kids with self-esteem, resilience and mental wellness. Maddy Cooper, co-founder of Brilliant Noise, has a purpose of protecting the earth so that families have a bright future, with sustainable marketing for brands that really mean it.

4. Align

Now your purpose is clearly articulated the next step is to align your decisions, actions, behaviours, products and services with your purpose. Let go of any aspects of your life that are not aligned with your purpose. This can take courage, but it is worth it.

5. Embody

As you make decisions aligned with your purpose, you shift from an intellectual understanding to your purpose becoming a tangible, living expression. The more you can appreciate the deep fulfilment, value and impact embodying your purpose brings, the more you grow.

change your life

6. Lead

As you grow in the embodiment of your true nature and purpose you are now ‘walking your talk’. There is a noticeable dedication, integrity and congruence and this inspires others. At this stage, as you communicate and share the wisdom of your experience openly and transparently, you become a recognised leader in your field.

7. Evolution

Your purpose, your north star, becomes an evolutionary force, both in your personal and business development taking you into the unknown, towards new frontiers. If you haven’t already, here you are invited to surrender more deeply, to let go of what wants to go and allow what wants to come.

Kat Byles is the Founder of the True Business School, for creative leaders, entrepreneurs, teachers, artists and healers who want to do business differently. She works with people to find and align with their purpose and creativity to build a happy, healthy, wealthy business and world. Why not get in touch and find out how she can help you change your life for the better.

Photos by Julia Avamotive, Joshua Abner, Thought Catalog

How to heal emotional trauma

I have spoken to so many women in their 40s recently who are struggling. If you have some form of emotional trauma from somewhere in the past, the absolute truth is that eventually, somehow, someway, it will end up catching up with you. I know this to be only too true from my own personal experience at the beginning of the pandemic during the depths of the first lockdown. The emotional trauma from my childhood caught up with me in a pretty major way. On the break of utter self distruction and about to take everyone I love down with me, I realised I needed to go for therapy and it was one of the best decisions I made in my life.

I had been pretending thus far that the emotional trauma buried deep inside me did not exist, that I didn’t need help, and I certainly didn’t need therapy. Boy, how wrong was I!

So when I heard about Anna McKerrow’s The Path to Healing is a Spiral: One Woman’s Journey to Emotional Healing, I just knew this was something we had to talk about openly on 40 Now What. If more people acknowledge, open up about, and address their emotional trauma, just think how much lighter and happier we would all be.

And so let us start with this. A deep dive on all things emotional trauma – triggers, origins, recognition and of course the very hardest bit – taking that first step to healing your emotional trauma.

What is emotional trauma? Can you give some examples of triggers?

From a psychological standpoint, emotional trauma happens when either a person is involved in a current traumatic situation (anything from the death of a loved one to experiencing war, childbirth difficulties, baby loss, a terrorist attack, a humiliating experience, rape, mugging or climate change-related traumatic experiences) or witnesses it (this might include police officers viewing violent crime or abusive video footage, or someone working with the survivors of sex trafficking or some similar support role). It also refers to historic trauma experienced in childhood that an adult may (or may not) have blocked from their memory, but which is causing problems in their adult life. Last, something that causes ongoing stress, such as a heavy workload or a stressful relationship, can cause trauma. Any of these experiences can also lead to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

The symptoms of trauma can include depression, re-experiencing the traumatic event in flashbacks, insomnia, emotional detachment, loss of self-esteem, despair, self-destructive behaviours (i.e. drug taking and alcoholism), panic attacks, nightmares and intense anger among many others. Conventional treatments for trauma and PTSD currently include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) medication and counselling.

The holistic point of view agrees that trauma is caused by difficult life situations, but differs in the way that it conceptualizes what trauma does to a human being. In a variety of therapies, trauma is considered to be psychically “held” in the body and the energy field around the body, rather than just inside the brain, as in the more conventional psychological view.

The energetic model of healing explains that we are made up of a number of linked “bodies”, with the physical one being the densest. The physical body is (of course) visible to the eye. Around that, the emotional body surrounds us for several inches, followed by the mental and then psychic body in similar layers, growing ever more subtle in terms of vibration. When people see auras around the bodies of others, they’re seeing the denser levels of the energy body, most likely the emotional or mental energy body, often dominated by the colour of the chakra that person is most “in” at that time.

When trauma comes our way – be that some negative energy or a virus or a traumatic experience – the energetic model states that it will make its way in from the psychic energy body, to the mental, to the emotional and finally the physical where it will manifest as actual disease or pain. Similarly, when we heal, the trauma is sent back out through the system in the same way.

I was taught an interesting concept about the healing of the physical body under this rationale, which is that the dis-ease (symbolizing a virus/bacteria/trauma, etc) makes its way out of the physical body from the core and out to the extremities before continuing to depart through the emotional, mental and psychic bodies. For example, an illness might begin with sickness (core), but as the healing body pushes out the intruder, it becomes a rash that starts at the chest, moves down to the legs and then out through the toes and feet. It’s an interesting theory (and I’m not sure if it’s got the scientific seal of approval) but I have found it very useful to think about how people’s symptoms often morph over time.

Sometimes an emotional problem can even become a physical one or, sometimes, when emotional problems are dealt with, then physical symptoms disappear.

Following the energetic model to its logical conclusion, dis-ease will continue to go deeper into the body until it hits the bones and the internal organs, causing more serious complications. From a holistic viewpoint, then, it makes sense to ward off the nasties before they get that far, with regular deep healing of emotional trauma as well as psychic self-protection.

heal emotional trauma

Where does emotional pain/trauma come from? Why is it important to heal and recover from emotional trauma?

Trauma comes from being human and living life, in my opinion. I think it comes from big, one-off things like bereavement, illness, rape, miscarriage, loss, sometimes relationship breakups, all manner of things like that. But it also comes from ongoing situations like bullying, coercive relationships, domestic violence, addiction, ongoing illnesses, being a carer perhaps for an ill relative or partner over a long period of time, living in a war zone, working in a toxic environment, battling gender identity issues – the list goes on! Things that can wear you down over time and create traumatic responses and stored pain.

I personally have worked with resolving trauma resulting from my mum’s illness with cancer and her passing away; my own childhood; poverty and debt; motherhood; my son being seriously ill when he was little, and a lot about just being a woman in a sexist world too.

There are so many reasons why we need to heal emotional trauma. Holding onto it means that we have less energy or capacity for other things; we might avoid making good life choices out of fear, based on something bad that has happened to us before. We might also just not have the bandwidth to progress in our lives and leave relationships or jobs that aren’t really right for us, because carrying that emotional trauma makes us so bloody exhausted! In my book I say:

“When we release trauma, it gives our systems more energy to get on with everything else. Imagine carrying a really heavy box. Once you’ve put the heavy box down, it’s much easier to think about what you need at the shops, right? If you take the heavy box to the supermarket, all you can think about when you’re walking around the aisles is Christ, this box is heavy. It’s hard to focus on what’s the best wine to go with chicken.”

The other thing to consider is that emotional trauma, or emotional stress, starts to have an impact on the body after a while. We know that stress is bad for our physical body as well as our brains.

The first step is always the hardest. How can someone go about becoming aware/acknowledging/identifying that they have experienced emotional trauma?

I would say that most of us have, so it’s almost a given. I think it’s important for everyone to get healing. You shouldn’t actually wait until physical symptoms manifest, or until you have a breakdown. In an ideal world, everyone would have regular healing, whether that’s reiki or breathwork or whatever, and head off the problems before they become too troublesome. It’s a bit like how your dentist tells you to floss to avoid having a filling later on. Healing should be like flossing: preventative as well as transformative.

The other thing to say is that you’ll probably know if you’ve experienced a traumatic experience. In my experience, people usually know: it’s more that they just ignore it and think, if I just get on with life, this will go away! I’ll just forget about it! That’s when the problems happen, when you sit down and talk to people and they say, I don’t know why I’m crying all the time. And then further on in the conversation you find out that they had a miscarriage last year and never talked to anyone about it.

There are, of course, traumas that we might have consciously decided to forget, and can be affecting your life with, say, self-destructive behaviour or another difficult thing which is coming from the unconscious, which definitely hasn’t forgotten. All the more reason to do some healing just as part and parcel of your normal life.

In the UK at least, I think people are quite averse to the concept of emotional healing. Most people will say they don’t need it, or they don’t believe in it. I would say that healing works whether you believe in it or not, because most alternative healing modalities aren’t psychological, they’re working on a holistic model of the body-mind and the body’s energy systems which is different to psychology. That said, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, as they say, and no healing professional would ever make anyone have whatever therapy they were offering, because everyone is on their own path. But if you are open to it, then pursue those instincts because it’s very worth doing and nothing to be scared of.

My other advice to people is, don’t assume that you can think your way out of traumatic experiences, and don’t expect to just get on with your life afterwards without needing to process and heal that experience. We have a very intellect-focused culture and most people think that, if they need to do anything, they need to rationalise a traumatic experience to understand it. I don’t think you do, actually. You need to feel it, and express your emotions as fully as possible. Emotions are not thoughts. They are much more primal and physical, and they won’t go away until you have allowed yourself to feel them in totality, whatever that means: screaming, punching a pillow, crying, whatever.

heal emotional trauma

What steps can be taken to alleviate the burden of trauma and heal emotional wounds?

There are many things you can do, and my main advice is try something out. If you hate it, then try something else. The worst thing you can do is nothing. I personally tried lots of healing techniques and therapists – some worked for me, some not so much, but overall, the best ones were the ones that held a space for me to cry and process my emotions in a safe environment. I didn’t like gong baths, but that might be your thing! And I have never had acupuncture, but I hear it’s great.

The other thing to say is that it’s important to share your experiences with other people. Sometimes, finding a support group of people who have experienced the same thing as you can be super helpful. I had a hysterectomy in 2020 and I found it really helpful to join a hysterectomy support Facebook group. I also joined one for endometriosis and adenomyosis sufferers, which was really helpful. I think there’s something very useful about sharing your story but also learning about what other people have experienced, and realising you’re not on your own.

Can you share a list of examples of alternative therapies you tried to heal your emotional traumas?

Yes! Reiki has been in my life for many years now. I started having reiki in 2004 and then became a practitioner myself, and then became a Reiki Master in 2021 (I was busy in the pandemic!). I’ve had shamanic healing, BodyTalk, reflexology, angelic healing, spiritual healing (they’re pretty similar tbh), crystal healing, I’ve done breathwork, all sorts. Plus I consider yoga to have helped me a lot too.

Were there some that were better for certain emotional wounds than others?

I have to say that Breathwork was probably the most profound in terms of processing really deep emotions that I’d been holding for a long time. It’s a breathing technique you do with a qualified therapist who guides you through the whole experience, and the way that you breathe puts you in a kind of trancey state where it’s easier for your emotions to come out. A session lasts about an hour or an hour and a half, and in that time you might “breathe through” a number of traumatic experiences or feelings, with the therapist supporting you gently. Like, they might hand you a pillow to hold, or they might say something very simple and non-intrusive like “it’s safe to feel this now” but really the focus is on you expressing these very deep emotions and breathing. Very powerful stuff.

heal emotional trauma

What does freedom from emotional trauma look and feel like?

Ha! I’ll let you know when I get there.

The thing is that even if you’ve done a lot of healing work, life still happens, so it’s not like there’s a point where you can become a guru and start wearing robes and all that, because there’s always a need for it. It’s more that you can find a greater sense of peace by clearing out certain emotional “weights” that you might be holding, and that we should have an awareness that engaging in a regular healing routine will be beneficial for us, whatever that looks like for us.

I think also that greater freedom from trauma looks like someone who is happier with the life they have, and is invested in making positive choices for themselves.

What advice would you give to people who are carrying an emotional wound – perhaps unknowingly – on how they can address their emotional health and needs?

Like I said before, the best thing is to actually do something! Thinking about it won’t change anything. Go to a reiki practitioner, do a breathwork session, find a support group, talk to someone, journal your feelings. Doing is the best thing, and my recommendation is do something that makes you cry a lot in a safe space. I’m a big fan of crying.

The other thing to say is look at your life, dispassionately, and think about whether you have any recurring themes. Like, do you always attract the same kind of partner, or do you have the same repeating issue happening to you at work? If these are things that you find to be negative experiences, that might be a sign that shows where an emotional wound is lurking. That emotional wound is creating a need that you are fulfilling with these dynamics in some way.

The thing is, I’ve found with emotional healing, it doesn’t really matter if you understand or deduct the reasons for your trauma intellectually or not. You might have a deep emotional trauma from a childhood experience you’ve consciously forgotten, but you discover when you heal it. The important this is that you heal it by doing rather than thinking, and process the experience.

Anything else you would like to add – words of encouragement/wisdom/inspiration?

You’ve got this! Any moment is a good moment to start investing in your emotional health – it’s never too late, and everyone needs to do this. Healing doesn’t mean you’re weird or seriously disturbed, it’s just something we all need as humans, living our human lives. I’ve found it truly transformational.

Anna McKerrow’s The Path to Healing is a Spiral: One Woman’s Journey to Emotional Healing is out on September 14th priced £12.99 and is available at all good book stores. Anna McKerrow is a YA author and Reiki Master. Connect with her on Instagram.

Photos by Alena Shekhovtcova, Monica Turlui, Liza Summer, Andres Ayrton

Five steps to find your voice in your 40’s

Do you find you struggle to speak up and be heard?  You try and speak only for someone to interrupt you and finish off your conversation. Do you feel like no one is listening? It feels like your opinions, ideas and thoughts are not important enough.   When you feel like no-one is listening to you it can make us feel unvalued, unappreciated, and just damn right fed up.  It can affect our self-esteem and our confidence. We scream inside our heads ‘why won’t you let me speak?’  We hear voices in our own head telling us not to bother; it’s not worth it as no-one listens anyway.  But it doesn’t have to feel and be this way.  All you have to do, is make a few changes and you’ll be amazed the difference that it will make. 

Step 1: Control your thoughts

Be in control of your thoughts; they can either help you or hindebr you.  Your thoughts can either empower you or disempower you, encourage you or stop you.  Your thoughts can change your life now and for the future.  Choose them wisely.  When negative thoughts pop in your head; challenge them.  Are they true?  Really true? Ask yourself is it true or are you just scared of the outcome?  Do you fear failure is that why these negative thoughts appear?  If so, challenge that thought. Turn each thought around, upside down and inside out until you feel it’s truth.  Challenge your thoughts to get the lifestyle that you want. 

Be brave, push yourself and the changes can really happen; it’s all in the power of your thoughts. For example, you’re heading to a meeting at work and you want to talk about an idea but your thoughts are; ‘no-one will listen to you’, ‘They will just interrupt me anyway’, ‘it probably won’t work’ and before you know it you decide to not even bother speaking up.  What if you changed your thoughts to; ‘I’ll explain all the reasons why this is a good idea’, ‘if they interrupt me, I’ll ask them to let me finish’, ‘this idea is amazing and will make a real positive difference’, ‘go on girl, you can do this’.  Can you see the difference on how you will feel when you turn those thoughts around?

Step 2: Be passionate, not emotional

Doesn’t it just make you crazy when someone says this to you ‘you’re being emotional’!  Your feelings of frustration get higher and higher, and things just got a hell of lot worse.  When this happens its crucial to flip back to Step 1.  Control your thoughts.  Most of the time we are being passionate about a certain subject only when we feel we are not being listened to does our passion turn to emotional, either upset, frustrations and anger.  Let’s not forget that our hormones will certainly be raging at this point when our emotions kick in.  When this occurs, tell yourself to stop.  Stop speaking, inhale a deep breath of calm and exhale the stress. Reflect and remind yourself why this important and start again.  Interrupt the emotion and get back the passion.

Step 3: Call it out

If someone interrupts you; talks over you, shuts you down, call it out.  Ask them to kindly let you finish the conversation without being interrupted.  Most of the time people don’t realise that they actually do it.  If it’s during an argument I think we are all guilty of this from time to time, so just be aware that you don’t interrupt too.  Let people speak and then you can challenge them to let you speak too.

Step 4: Listen to understand, don’t listen to respond

Sometimes we react and respond too quickly because we want to get our point across but when we do that our minds are not fully listening to what the other person has actually said.  They may have a totally different perspective, but they may not be wrong, and you can respond too quickly before you fully understand the other persons reasoning.  Think about the number 6 and 9.  If one person is viewing it upside down you can see why they would be adamant that they are right when they believe it’s a number 6 versus the view the other persons sees which is a 9.  Again, our changing hormones won’t help us as we can get easily fired up.  When we sense this happening, this is when we must tell ourselves to stop.  Take that breathe, check your and theirs perspective, and start again.

Step 5: Know that there is always a way

Decide and know what you want, challenge those beliefs that are getting in the way. Trust and believe that there is always a way because seek and you shall always find.

Sara Harling author of ‘Why Won’t You Let Me Speak?’  Available at Amazon, Waterstones and The Hive.

Photos by Polina Tankilevitch and Pexels

Being in your 40s! Women in their 40s tell it like it is loud and proud….

Can you believe it folks!? 40 Now What is now ONE YEAR OLD! We are so thankful for everyone who has supported us by reading our articles about being in your 40s. And what better way to mark our 1st anniversary by having some of our favourite women share their wisdom about being in your 40s loud and proud! So without further ado, it’s time to hand over to the women helping us celebrate this exciting milestone with their honest and inspirational insights…

“If you’re true to yourself and your values then it’s possible to see a massive change in your life at this juncture. Reevaluating your values in your 40s is the ideal way to review what you want and start living your best life.” – Dr Mandeep Rai, author of The Sunday Times Business Bestseller The Values Compass

“As I reached my forties, life had taught me that when an opportunity presents itself, always explore and seize it with both hands.  Don’t be afraid to have things go wrong.  I don’t like the world failure – it’s just part of your journey and as long as you learn from the experience, then it’s an invaluable part of building your character and your business. Finally, always be flexible as having the ability to change will ensure growth.” – Nicole Sealey, Real Housewife of Cheshire and businessewoman

“You are never too old and it’s never too late to live a life you love! I was bankrupt at 38 at 50 a multi award winning entrepreneur. You CAN!” – Sarah Pittendrigh, Motivational Mentor, Multiple Founder and Multi Award Winning Entrepreneur

being in your 40s
Left to right: Dr Mandeep Rai, Nicole Sealey, Sarah Pittendrigh

“40 is when it all really started to change for me – it was when I had the courage to get not only my first tattoo but the other 6 I had done in quick succession. It was also the year I changed my business stars, I left my well paid corporate job; and decided to set up my own PR business working with wellbeing and spiritual clients. This meant I could be there for the school run, work the hours I wanted and also enabled me to navigate through the hell of home schooling. I also cleaned up my act a little, I minimised my drinking habits, I practiced meditation, yoga, and started growing fruit and veg in the green house. It is in my 40’s I have truly felt comfortable in my own skin.” – Sarah Lloyd, Founder, IndigoSoulPR

“I have been loving being 40 so far. It feels like a really nice stage of life where my children (8 & 5) are a little older and need less from me. I am focusing on my business and my own health. I’ve started going to strength training once a week and have been really enjoying it. I’m loving building my business which includes a thriving practice as a clinical psychologist, an author and podcaster.” – Dr Marianne Trent, Clinical Psychologist at Good Thinking Psychology & Author

“Being single and childless in your 40s does not make you a failure, it makes you the envy of your friends. It allows you to focus on yourself and be spontaneous. Stop worrying what others think, the people who care matter and the people who matter care.” – Alix Johnson, Head of PR and Communications at National Museums Liverpool

Left to right: Sarah Lloyd, Dr Marianne Trent, Alix Johnson

“My 40’s have been my best decade. My world imploded, but I rebuilt it differently. I (re)discovered myself and redefined my legacy. I took control and stopped living by life’s ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’.” – Carolyn Hobdey, Author, Motivator and Educator

“One of the biggest things I have learned is that if you change the language in your head and it’ll change your life. I read a book called You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay and it literally did. I also created a series of positive supportive phrases that I still repeat to this day. Slowly but surely things started to change and here I am today, living my best life.” – Jo Pickard, award-winning voiceover artist and presenter

“My life changed soon after turning 40 – I met the love of my life and we started a business – Work Pirates, I got diagnosed with ADHD and now I’m writing a book – Good Girl Deprogramming. I finally realised that I didn’t have to do everything on my own, so I’ve asked for and received all the help I need to be a success.” – Michelle Minnikin, Entrepreneur and founder of Work Pirates

Left to right: Carolyn Hobdey, Jo Pickard, Michelle Minnikin

“By her forties a woman has crystallised her intelligence – rooted in life experience – making her fearless, determined and confident to take on the world and fight to make a difference. The best is always yet to come!” – Asma Iqbal, partner at Chadwick Lawrence Solicitors

“At the age of 42, I feel that I have learnt to acknowledge both my strengths and weaknesses and have realise both have helped me grow into the person that I am today. It is important to see challenges and obstacles as a time for learning. I believe you can achieve anything you want to in life, you just need to work hard, learn hard and of course play hard!” – Maria Afentakis, research scientists and author of The Spiritual Scientist

“I finally know who I am, and where I ‘m supposed to be. If you face your fears and just put one foot in front of the other, magical things happen.” – Rebecca Hartley, Director, Saving Grace Events and ambassador for the charity Prevent Breast Cancer

Left to right: Asma Iqbal, Maria Afentakis, Rebecca Hartley

“My 30s were heartbreaking after losing my husband at 34 so turning 40 was fine. I have a son and my clock wasn’t ticking, I just wanted my life to be happy and meaningful. Hitting 40 I knew I was too long in the tooth to have my ideas squashed, style questioned and commerciality quizzed and what I know in my head can’t be put on a spreadsheet, it’s called GUT and I have bags of it. ” – Katie Moore, celebrity stylist and founder of stylepath_ldn

“We are all capable of incredible things – especially in our 40s. No matter your age, background, or title. If you want to change something – you can do it. Know you can, and do it now.”   – Philippa White, CEO and Founder of The International Exchange

“Firstly, to trust my own wisdom. To gather insights from others I admire have walked a path of self exploration, but to ultimately trust my own life, my experience, and learn from my own challenges, joy and being.” – Carmen Rendell, Founder of Soulhub wellbeing community

“I have two main feelings. One that is I finally feel like I can just be myself and live life on my terms. It feels like I’ve had enough lived experience to own my decisions which is very empowering. The other one is that I feel like with all that experience, I can make the next half of my life absolutely incredible by doing what makes me come alive, sharing my learnings with others and doing more of whatever makes me truly happy and fulfilled. It’s exciting.” – Puja McClymont, Life and Business Coach, retreat host and podcast host

Left to right: Katie Moore, Carmen Rendell, Philippa White, Puja McClymont

Can you relate to the above insights and experiences of being in your 40s? Why not add your experience of being your 40s in a comment below and join our Instagram community here where we will be keeping the conversation going.

Cover photo by Lara

How to feel sexy in your 40s – yes it’s possible!

Are you wondering if is possible to feel sexy in your 40s?

As I journey more into my 40’s and look at was to feel good I have found that no matter what I try the common denominator is ME. It is up to me to feel good in myself, to feel comfortable in my own skin and to start feeling sexy again. No amount of reading self help books or courses are going to change how I feel unless I change the way I think about myself. As Mel Robbins say “No one is coming to save you, no one “so ultimately it is up to us to feel sexy again not any partner, husband, or wife it is up to us and us alone. Feeling sexy is far more than how we feel in the bedroom it’s about confidence in how we look and feel about ourselves. It is about knowing we are attractive, beautiful and capable through our own eyes; it is self-love at its best.

Accept, like, love are the steps I use when helping women to feel good about their body and start to see themselves as sexy. Acceptance can be the biggest barrier to self-love.

Accepting where you are now, longing for the body we had in our 20’s is pointless as it will never be that way again. Looking to the past will never helps us feel good in the present moment so embrace the body you have now. Accepting your body doesn’t mean giving up it is a starting point to where you want to go and how you want to feel.

Sexy is a feeling

The sexy feeling you once had is pivotal to getting your sexy back.

I want you to think back to a time when you felt absolutely super-hot sexy . Close your eyes and let the image come to the front of your mind. Then go through these questions

  • What are you wearing?
  • Where are you?
  • Who are you with?
  • What are the smells?
  • How does it feel in your body?

Now open your eyes and check in with yourself, how do you feel in this present moment, what’s happening in your body ? How do you feel? Has the feeling stayed in with you?

Our mind works in images and the image creates a feeling so when we recall the memory or image of when you felt sexy it is possible to get the  same feeling back. This technique can be used when you want to feel good about yourself or want to get that sexy feeling back.

feel sexy in your 40s

What you can do to feel sexy in your 40s

To help you start on your sexy back journey here are some scientifically and not so scientific  methods that can help you.

Get fitted for a new bra

Having your breasts all nicely supported helps you stand taller, and your clothes sit better. Buy bras in lace and cool different colours to help with the sexiness factor.

Exercise

To realease the endorphins and to remind you how amazing your body is .

Give someone a complement

What you give out you will receive back doubled. Making others feel good helps you feel good. Also practice receiving a complement don’t brush it of, just say THANK YOU !

Smile

When you smile it is impossible not to feel good – try it. Try smiling at yourself in the mirror for the ultimate feel-good factor.

feel sexy in your 40s

Stop the self-sabotage

Remember you have the power to change your thoughts so when those negative self-sabotaging thoughts or patterns creep in, catch them and change the thought.

Bring back the fun

Try to bring in some laughter and fun into your life, we can sometimes forget that we need fun in our life and take everything so seriously. This can work well if you feel self-conscious around your partner, break the ice with a joke, laughter can help you both relax.

Visualization

As I said thinking back to a time when you felt sexy or creating an image of being sexy and attractive can really help bring about those feelings. Bring in all your senses to create the image in your sun-conscious mind.

Create you own sexy affirmations

I am a big believer in affirmations but sometimes we can think in negative affirmations such as “I am not attractive, no one loves me. Saying this will never get us anywhere so you need to change it to something positive and in the present tense approve of myself I  am willing to accept love I deserve love”

Masturbate

Looking to yourself for pleasure is the ultimate form of self-love and can boost your self-esteem. So, get to it embrace your own body for those sexy feelings of pleasure. If it been a while or you are new to pleasing yourself reading erotic novels and taking a visit to Ann Summers is certainly a way to start.

Not everyone feels sexy all the time, life and being a woman in your 40s in general can see to that but remember you are not on your own. If you are trying to get your sexy back and feel sexy in your 40s believe me there are many other women trying to do the same so go easy on yourself, Don’t forget to let the fun into your life and remember thoughts are just thoughts and a thought can be changed.  

Sarah Lyons is an image consultant, body confidence and wellbeing coach for women, she helps women all over the country look and feel-good inside and out. Find out more at www.sarahlyonscoaching.com and follow her on Instagram @sarahlyonscoaching & @wellstyled_by_sarah.

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi and Matthias Cooper via Pexels

Happiness in your 40s: 4 ways to view happiness differently

Does happiness feel elusive? Is happiness in your 40s possible? The answer for almost all of us is yes – at least sometimes, maybe often. You might feel like you’ve checked all the boxes but aren’t as happy as you’d hoped, you might wonder how anyone can be happy in the face of difficulty or you might feel like happiness is complicated. You might even wonder whether being happy is really all that important.  

Here are four ways from lawyer turned Happiness Coach, Becky Morrison you can look at happiness in your 40s that might be a little bit different than what you were taught.

Happiness in your 40s is a high value investment

To many people happiness sounds fluffy. Sure they’d like to be happier but they aren’t sure that happiness is – on it’s own – a valuable commodity. What they are missing is that happiness is a cause of success, not a result. There is a significant body of research that supports the notion that experiencing positive emotions – both the momentary experience of happiness and living happy (having on balance more positive emotional experiences than negative ones) – has significant positive impacts on your physical health, your performance and your resilience.

Happier people live longer, have stronger immune systems, are better able to manage pain and generally experience fewer adverse health conditions. In addition, the experience of positive emotions – like happiness – broadens our approach to the world allowing us to think more expansively, solve problems more creatively and build relationships more easily and effectively. It’s not surprising then that the research suggests that happy people earn more, sell more and are more productive. Finally, happiness builds our resilience so that when the tough times comes, we are better able to weather the storm.  In short, investing in living happy is one of the highest value investments you can make.

Happiness in your 40s

Happiness is not a destination, it’s an action

People often fall into the trap of believing that happiness will arrive as they meet their goals and continue to achieve. But the problem is that an unhappy journey rarely, if ever, results in a happy ending. The key to a happier life is finding happiness in the process. That means looking for – or intentionally incorporating – happiness (and other positive emotions) into your daily life.

To do this, however, you need to know where your happiness comes from – because it’s different for everyone. You can start by making a list of things that bring you positive emotions (like happiness, contentment, gratitude or even engagement). These can be big, small or anything in between. Once you’ve got a list, take one or two of your favorite items and ask yourself: what about this thing makes me happy? Keep asking that question until you’ve distilled it down into that is quick and accessible to you. For example, one of the things that makes me happiest is our annual beach vacations. I can’t escape to the beach from my land-locked home any time I want. But one of the things that enjoy most about the beach is the feel of the sun on my face. That is something that I can seek out any time the sun is shining. Having a list of the most basic sources of positive emotions is a powerful tool because you can deploy them – with intention – anytime you need a reset or an injection of positivity.

Happiness coexists

By any measure it’s been a challenging two years – global pandemic, war, social justice, changing job and home demands that came with working from home, and more. You might be wondering how can we even talk about happiness at times like these? The answer is pretty simple – happiness (and other positive emotions) can coexist with the tough stuff. You can experience happiness even during struggle. And you don’t need to bypass the tough stuff and experience only happiness.

The goal with living happier – and reaping it’s benefits – is to intentionally and authentically experience positive emotion whenever you can NOT to ignore the tough emotions that are a natural part of the human condition.

The next time you’re facing a difficult situation or a tough emotion, don’t fight it. You don’t need to force yourself out of it or through it. And while you are in it you can keep an eye out for the little kernels of positive emotion that might coexist with it – the friendly face, the helping hand, even the sunlight. Those positive kernels don’t need to outweigh or overcome the challenges, they just need to be included in the conversation. The key is to notice it all and savor the good where you can find it, even nestled in with the challenges.

Happiness in your 40s

Happiness in your 40s can be simple

Happiness doesn’t require radically changing your circumstances. In fact, the research suggests that more than anything your happiness is dependent on your thoughts and actions – something over which you can exercise at least a modicum of control. While you can take steps to make big changes in your life to yield a greater level of happiness those big steps are best made from a happier place so that you are architecting your happiness, rather than simply trying to escape your unhappiness.  That happier place is built through your daily behaviors.

If you want to be happier starting today try this simple exercise: each day, record what made you smile. How you record this information isn’t particularly important, what made you smile doesn’t matter. What matters is that you had a positive emotional experience AND you noticed it. Because remember just the experience of a positive emotion broadens your perspective and builds your resilience.  This is just one example of how simple it can really be to inject more happiness into your daily life.

Bottom line: Making a high value investment in your happiness can meaningfully benefit your health, success, and resilience. It simply requires intentional action (not radical transformation) which can happen even during challenging times and doesn’t need to be complicated.

Rebecca Morrison is a lawyer turned Happiness Coach and author of the best-selling book The Happiness Recipe: a Powerful Guide to Living What Matters. Becky works with successful but unsatisfied high-achievers to help them find their unique happiness recipe so they can live happier, lead happier and build happy businesses.

Images by rawpixel.com