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“Count your rainbows, not your thunderstorms.” ~ Alyssa Knight
I have ended my marriage recently.
By all common standards, I had everything: a husband who was a doctor and spent long hours at work saving people’s lives, a nice house, a wonderful daughter, and the respect of society. In reality, I was dying inside—I had never felt lonelier in my entire life.
When I married my husband, I knew his job would require him to work long hours. But after a few years of only seeing him a few hours per week, I knew this was not the kind of life I wanted for our little girl and me.
One morning, as I was watching the sunrise and drinking my coffee, alone again, it hit me hard. I felt like I was a single mom with a marriage certificate. I was feeling confused and lost.
Could I have done something differently?
In all of this confusion, I knew one thing: we always have choices. That morning, I chose to find myself again and never hold anyone else responsible for my joy and happiness.
Only a few years back, I had this rule of thumb, and it was to pursue experiences that made me smile. It always worked for me when I was confronting difficult circumstances in my life. On that same day, I made a list of the things I loved and designed a simple plan to incorporate more of those things into my daily life.
Among other things, I loved dancing, reading, learning, and flowers. I discovered that I even loved gardening! Who would’ve thought that this city girl would love to get her hands and nails dirty and garden?
From that day forward, I gave myself permission to remember me, explore, and discover other layers of my persona that I didn’t know existed. This also led me to the decision of following my heart and making a big change in my career.
A few months later, as I was going through my divorce, I kept working on my inner joy and happiness. Even though I was going through a rough patch in my life, I focused on my blessings. I created daily morning gratitude rituals, did some routine exercises, took important steps in my new career, and enjoyed being present in my daughter’s life.
I stopped focusing on what I didn’t have and acknowledged my blessings instead.
My marriage ended because our values and priorities didn’t align, but in this process, I gained something invaluable: a better, more aligned version of myself.
I live passionately now; my priorities and values are clearer than ever. I am intentional about the way I want to raise my child, and I have the freedom to be myself. I have access to the joy triggers that give me a life of fulfillment. Happy endings have different forms, shapes, and colors!
I believe there is a happy ending to this story.
So here I am, sharing with you the five steps I took to rediscover my joy:
1. I started with making a list of things that genuinely make me smile.
Sometimes, we forget what we love because we get too caught up in our daily lives. The things that make you smile can be as simple as eating ice cream, or they can be bigger passions, such as traveling abroad. I brainstormed all those things, and I wrote them down.
2. I revisited my younger years and remembered those experiences that made me feel so alive, those adventures that I treasured with all my heart.
Dancing in the rain, jumping in puddles, swimming in the ocean without worry. It is a way to feel young and vibrant again without thinking about what people might say about us. I decided to give myself permission to feel free!
3. I listed all the things that I was grateful for: my family, my health, my new career, and my friends.
I decided to acknowledge them and remember them often. There is no wonder that all the research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
4. I decided to make myself a priority.
A lot of people confuse self-love with selfishness, although they are two different things. I decided to be intentional and started by giving myself one hour per week to experience something I love or would love to do. The anticipation of the experience, the actual event, and the afterthoughts brought so much excitement into my life. It fueled me with so much positive energy that I got hooked.
5. I started to write in my journal about my thoughts, feelings, and actions.
At some point, I started to experience conflicting thoughts and emotions. It was normal because I was getting out of my comfort zone. I have been programmed as a mom that having fun was not as important as everything else. Journaling was a great way to make sense out of everything I was doing and feeling and get rid of my overwhelming thoughts.
My divorce is over now, and my daughter and I are building a new life and routine. Yesterday, we were gardening together, and I realized that she was looking at me and smiling, without reason.
“What is it, honey?” I asked her.
“Nothing,” she said. “I just love to see you so happy, mommy!”