Being happy again isn’t a time thing. It’s a you thing.
One of the most frequently asked questions about divorce recovery is “How long does it take to be happy again?” It’s asked not only as a reflection of what seems like interminable pain, but also because there is so much conflicting information out there about how long it takes! For example, back in 2010, the Daily Mail reported that it takes EXACTLY 17 months and 26 days to get over divorce. Others report that it takes 2 years and still others say that it will take 1 year for every 4 years of marriage.
And you know what? All of these numbers are horribly wrong – at least when it comes to you.
Why? Because no one else has gone through EXACTLY what you’ve gone and are going through and no one else has your EXACT personality.
Yup, your personality has a lot to do with how long it takes you to feel happy again post-divorce.
Are you someone who carries a lot of negative emotion? Do you dwell on unanswerable questions about the past: “What if…” or “If only…”? Are your fears controlling your life? Do you doubt that you’ll ever be happy again? Do you believe that you’re inadequate? Do you believe that the failure of your marriage means that you’re a failure?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions and if you maintain these beliefs and the personality that perpetuates these beliefs, it will take you longer than necessary to feel happy again. Not a very comforting thought, right?
As unsettling as it is, it’s also true. You see, you’ll never be able to move on with your life unless you start thinking and behaving differently. Remember what Einstein said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
It’s a hard pill to swallow, but as long as you allow yourself to wallow in the misery of your divorce, you’ll NEVER feel happy again. And wallowing is exactly what you’re doing if you’re answering the questions above in the affirmative.
So what can you do to foster happiness after divorce? Well, the first thing is to decide to answer one of the questions you responded “yes” to with a “no” and do everything in your power to make that the truth.
For example, if you normally carry a lot of negative emotion and want to stop doing so, you could start noticing every time something negative comes out of your mouth and immediately change it to something positive.
“I’m so depressed” could become “I’m feeling depressed, but I know I feel better when I get moving so I’m going for a quick walk to brighten my mood.” And then take that quick walk.
Another way you can shift from a negative mindset is to be more kind and compassionate – to yourself. And as you become more kind and compassionate an amazing thing happens, you become grateful and from there it’s a VERY short distance to happiness.
(Most people assume that once they’re happy then they can be grateful, but they’re wrong. Being grateful actually creates happiness. And the shortest distance to gratitude is by being kind and compassionate.)
Being happy again after divorce isn’t a time-based thing.
Being happy again after divorce is a mindset and perception thing. And you’re the only one who has control over that. So instead of asking others and continuing to do research about how long it will take to be happy again, you need to get busy doing what it takes to be happy again.
It’s OK if you don’t know what to do to be happy again. If you did, you’d already be doing it.
Try using the questions above to guide you toward happiness. You can also check out this self-assessment. It will not only give you an idea of how much further you have to go before you are completely over your divorce, but it will also give you specific and personalized tasks to do to get there.
It may not seem like it now, but you truly do hold the key to being happy again. You just need to decide that you’re done with the pain and ready to stop being miserable, then do the work to find the happiness you desire.
Looking for more help with and information about moving on after divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Life After Divorce.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are struggling with how to find happiness again after divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
This article originally appeared at DivorceForce.