By Vanessa Sheets—
Hint: It has nothing to do with affirmations.
You worked hard raising a family and saving for retirement. Now that the kids have launched and you’re finally done paying for college, you’re ready to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Then why aren’t you happier?
Maybe you’re too stressed about money to spend long days on the golf course like you envisioned. Maybe your grown children can’t afford to live nearby, leaving you longing for time with the grandchildren. Or perhaps your marriage didn’t thrive under the demands of careers and mid-life and now you find you have nothing in common with your spouse.
You’re not alone. Time magazine reports that more people are unhappy in retirement than ever before. Money and relationship satisfaction may be to blame. Reports show that between 1980 and 2008, traditional pensions in the private sector dropped from 38 percent to 20 percent. And the divorce rate among couples over 50 is skyrocketing, earning the term “grey divorce” to describe the trend.
But research shows that once we achieve a level of relative financial stability, cited at around $80,000 a year in the U.S., more wealth doesn’t necessarily lead to greater levels of happiness. Often, those earning millions are simply dealing with a different set of problems. And while relationships strongly correlate to our life satisfaction, intimate connections can be found in family and friends, and isn’t limited to our marital status.
So what is the key to happiness?
Dr. Susan David, a Harvard Medical School scientist who studies the science of emotions, says flexibility is the answer. In her new book Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life, Dr. David says the more honest and agile you can be with your emotions, the more you can overcome challenges and thrive.
Happiness expert Ira Israel- a licensed psychotherapist who helps professionals across America radically shift their perspectives in a matter of hours- agrees. “How you react to the ups and downs of life corresponds with how happy you will be. Authentically experiencing the joys and sorrows, being truly present, instead of allowing your mind to crave more joy and avoid disappointments and frustrations, helps keep people at the higher end of their happiness spectrum,” Israel says.
Israel says that everyone has a happiness range and to stay on the higher end of our spectrum, he recommends the following:
To live higher on your personal happiness spectrum, try taking 5 minutes a day to practice these recommendations and notice how your mood is instantly elevated. By shifting your perspective, you can find happiness.