About five minutes into my Post-Divorce Happiness Project, I realized happiness is way too lofty a goal for the newly divorced. Or, in my case, the not-quite-divorced. A more realistic goal for us is contentment, happiness’s quieter cousin. Now I call this my Post-Divorce
Happiness Contentment Project. And I’ve learned a few things in the first week:
- Create a Schedule. Divorce Brain is on par with Mommy Brain, except there’s a lot less joy to compensate for your mental fog. I walk into rooms and forget why I’m there. The other day I drove to Target on an urgent errand and once I got there, couldn’t remember what I needed to buy. (Hint: It wasn’t Oreos.) My kids have missed two parties because I got the dates wrong. I mix up lunches and forget things like tax deadlines. All this is a long way of saying that your contentment resolutions need a SCHEDULE. When am I going to tackle nagging tasks and declutter and exercise? Never unless it’s recorded in my Excel chart of how my day should go because without that I spend a lot of time staring at my computer screen wondering what I forgot. I found the schedule oddly liberating. Rather than having to think about all the stuff I need to do during the day, I just do what the schedule tells me to. On days I follow the schedule, I feel more productive and peaceful. On days I don’t, I feel like a scatter-brained whack job who’s never going to get her life back. Schedule, you are my friend.
- Be Kind to Yourself. Lest we’ve forgotten, we’re grieving. We’re not at the top of our game. I’m actually not even in the game, more like I’m sitting on the sidelines wondering if the coach will ever put me back in. Point is, don’t expect too much and don’t beat yourself up when you don’t meet your goals. If you’ve accomplished some stuff by the end of the day, been present for your kids (if you have any), and you’ve remembered to breathe…you’re golden.
- Happiness Will Make You Cry. Why is it that my fleeting experiences of happiness instantly reduce me to a sad, blubbering mess? Those moments of joy crack open a deep well of feeling and what bubbles up is grief. Are joy and pain so intricately tied together? I feel like Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer—one moment of pure happiness and I lose my soul. Except the one thing that made him purely happy is not on my Schedule so I’m not getting any of that. I’m crying enough from things like getting an alert that the library has my copy of the latest Darynda Jones’ book ready for pick-up.
All in all, I’d say I’m doing better one week into my happiness contentment project. How about you?