It’s easier to be happy when we get rid of the “shoulds” in our life and begin replacing them with “want tos”. Midlife is the perfect opportunity to shuck the things that are not working and get down to the business of enjoying life on our own terms. In my case, it meant emptying out a whole passel of drawers and closets, literally and figuratively, and starting from scratch.
I felt so stuck, so seemingly unable to figure out what was wrong with my life or how to fix it. All I knew was that I was not happy, or living the life I wanted to be living. Even worse, I could no longer will myself to keep doing the things I thought I should be doing. My essential self, my true self, had had enough; enough of pretending, enough of living for everyone else, enough of not doing the things I loved to do.
One of the first books I picked up was Simple Abundance, by Sarah ban Breathnach. I had read it once before, but I decided to read it again. I stuck it beside my bed and every day, usually in the morning I read the page of the day. This time the author’s guidance began to really sink in and I actually began doing some of things she suggested. My favorite exercises, one of the first I began practicing with regularity, was her suggestion to begin replacing things in your home that you hate, with things you love.
Money was tight, and I hated almost everything in my house, but finding the thing I hated the most was not difficult: a factory painting that I bought for $15 in some discount store because it matched the colors in my couch. It had absolutely no sentimental value, nor did it bring me an ounce of aesthetic pleasure. Taking it down and carting it to Goodwill was like going on a mini-vacation. As luck would have it, I found a replacement piece that I did love while I was there. My $3 replacement still gives me warm fuzzies.
Sometimes its the little changes we make over a period of time that brings about the biggest changes in our life. Creating space in a room, or in our day, is a necessary precursor for to adding something better. As we look for those things that bring us joy and stop giving our attention to those things we do not enjoy, our lives are transformed.
It’s a whole lot easier to be happy when we let go of the shoulds and the ought tos and replace them with love tos and want tos.
© Dorothy Sander 2013
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