Divorce can be a brutal process that darkens the joy in your life. As you travel the path, you might feel lost, insecure, devastated, angry, frustrated, defensive, and just plain sad.
It's okay to feel bad. In fact, it's perfectly normal and healthy to allow yourself to feel whatever emotions arise. But it's important to be proactive in not allowing yourself to become stuck in a downward spiral.
Following are five tips and tricks to cultivate more happiness in your life:
Smile at yourself in the mirror. Smile at strangers. Smile while you're working, exercising, vacuuming or feeding your dog. As a matter of fact, smile right now! Are you smiling? If so, you probably feel a twinge more happiness than when your face was expressing another emotion. That's because you can use your facial expression to trick your brain into feeling better. As soon as your smile muscles move into action, the brain releases endorphins, which make you feel happy and reduce stress. Are you still smiling?
When you feel low, think of three things you're grateful for. When you feel bored, think of three things you're grateful for. At the end of the day, write down all the wonderful things you're grateful for. Gratitude is an easy and powerful way to shift your focus away from what's wrong and instead become aware of what is right, good, beautiful and available to you in your life.
You can make a list of affirmations, or choose just one that expresses the kind of energy you wish to embody as you step forward in your life. A good one to try: Every day, in every way, I'm growing stronger and stronger. Speak your affirmations to yourself as you look in the mirror. Turn off the radio and say your affirmations out loud as you drive, or write them 25 times each day. You can even make a recording of your affirmations and play them at night as you fall asleep. The more you can program your mind with positive messages, the better.
The practice of meditation gives you an opportunity to slow down, become present in the current moment, and release anything that doesn't serve you. Devote a minimum of five minutes in your day to sitting still. You don't have to do anything but breathe. Notice your breath as it moves into your body, filling your lungs and abdomen, and then observe the breath leave your body as effortlessly as it came. That's it! If thoughts arise (and they will), simply acknowledge them and let them pass. You can think about all those things later. As time goes by, you'll get better at sitting still and that calm feeling will begin to permeate other areas of your life.
Watch Mind Movies.
Imagine yourself happy and free. Fantasize about vacation or accomplishing a goal. Pick any setting that feels good and then really feel it, as if you're there. See it, hear the sounds, taste the flavors of the food, and feel the air on your face. Allow yourself to be joyful, even if it's only in your mind. This exercise will help you remember the feeling and bring your happy scenarios into existence.
You don't have to do everything on this list. Pick just one or two practices and dedicate some time to them each day. As time goes by and your sadness fades, you'll be primed to accept more happiness to take its place.
Written by Tara Eisenhard
Tara Eisenhard is a divorce coach who helps struggling singles overcome shame and frustration, en route to finding peace and cultivating a life they love. She is also the author of the novel "The D-Word: Divorce Through a Child's Eyes." Other articles by Tara can be found at her blog, Relative Evolutions.