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I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Guerin Moorman
Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
Sharon
I met Brenda and took the MBTI… I had a fairly good understanding of these types before the meeting but was impressed by the depth of knowledge that Brenda shared with me. She clearly has a passion for this work and a gift in imparting the information. There have been doors opened for me because of our talks… — Alan Hintermeister
Alan Hintermeister
your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live
Sherrie
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
Gary
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
Megan
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
J.K.
For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…
Niko
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
D.R.

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Why We Find More Happiness After Age 50: The Struggles of Our 40s and the Contentment of Our 50s

birthday cake

I turn 49 tomorrow. According to author Jonathon Rauch (The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50), I’m at the bottom of the happiness curve, but things will be on the upswing very soon. He says our 40s are the bottom of the joy trough. Our values change in our 50s to create upward momentum.

Our 40s, not always so peachy

Why are our 40s so rough? He says there is a normal downturn in this decade. We have a tendency to feel disappointment. We’ve been striving and working so hard to achieve and chase our ambitions, but we’re not satisfied. We think we should be happy because we’ve reached a career goal and created a family, but we are not fulfilled like we thought we’d be. We may even start to feel there is something wrong with us because we are not happy even though we have all the external prizes we thought we wanted.

Our 40s could also be the time we take inventory and decide we fall short of our expectations. We have worked hard but we still don’t have the career, marriage or family we envisioned. We achieved a few things but then we saw more goals to aim for and just kept striving. The finish line keeps moving and we begin to doubt we will ever reach it.

Enter midlife crisis

We think we’ll always be unsatisfied. The future seems grim. We blame ourselves, our spouses and our career choices for not making us happy. This is where the mid-life crisis comes in. We leave our jobs and our spouses. We try to leave our old ways of being.

I can relate to much of the 40s questioning, blaming and spiraling down. Jonathon Rauch and I agree this is not what happens to everyone, but studies show there is a tendency toward this way of thinking and behaving.

I did wake up from the decade in my 30s of rushing, career-building and family-creating, to realize I was unfulfilled and not happy. I felt I had lost myself but did not know how to get off the treadmill.

I did blow up most of the foundation my husband and I built. I wanted out of the marriage. I wanted to have a career, not just stay at home minding children and the house. Maybe it was a mid-life crisis. I was quick to blame others and our lifestyle. I thought I should be thrilled to have everything I had, but I wasn’t. I couldn’t see a fulfilling future. I just saw more of the same.

I tried exercise, meditation, guitar lessons, diet changes. Those were positive adjustments but not enough. I now know I was missing what makes our 50s and beyond so rich and worthwhile.

Why our 50s bring contentment

According to Jonathon Rauch and the many studies he quotes in The Happiness Curve, our values change around 50. We focus less on social competition and more on connections and community. These pursuits have smaller short-term gains in happiness but big time payoffs long-term. We find a stable sense of contentedness versus a short-term jolt of excitement. Think of fostering connections as like putting money in the bank. At first the interest gains seem insignificant, but over time, they accumulate and become notable and meaningful.

After our 40s, we start to determine what is truly important to us and pursue those. Core relationships get the attention they’ve been lacking. We don’t want to waste any more time chasing elusive notches in our belt. Our time horizon is shorter. We want to make the most of what we have or go get what really matters.

One thing that helps us rise out of the trough of unhappiness and into the upswing of our 50s is our biology. Scientists have studied the brains of people over 50. Using MRI technology, they discovered that older people have a more positive outlook. They are more responsive to positive stimuli and less reactive to negative stimuli. It is almost like there is now a buffer on emotions and reactions.

I can’t wait for that to kick in for me! I was down in my 40s because I did not have a lot of consistent meaningful connections. I have a mostly positive outlook now because there are more fulfilling relationships in my life, but I’m still working on lessening my reactions to negative stimuli.

What helps get us through the 40s?

Knowing feelings of pessimism and disappointment are normal in this stage of life helps. The problem is most of us are ashamed to admit we are not happy or that we think we are failing. We believe we should be strong and competent by the time we reach our 40s.

We deal with our unhappiness on our own, which only makes the issues worse. Feeling isolated compounds the unhappiness. We need to share with each other. We need social support, friendship and love.woman facing away

Who helps you untangle?

All of the sharing I did on space2live and brendaknowles.com was my way of getting through the down times in my 40s. Now when coaching clients, I help them sort through all the variables of their well-being. I ask them questions about what they value and what they want. My intention is to make them feel like they have someone on their team. They have someone with them as they navigate unhappy times. I let them know the inner turmoil is normal and that it is possible to untangle all the threads that make up their lives. In short, I give them what I needed when I felt lost.

Not everyone needs or wants a coach, of course, but we all need someone we can talk to and work through the low points of our lives. I encourage you to consider sharing the things that weigh on your mind and heart.

Kickstarting the upswing

It’s easy to compare ourselves to everyone, but connecting with them gives us the boost we truly want. We connect by sharing honestly and by giving our attention. Giving and sharing kickstart that positive outlook we find more naturally in our 50s and older.

How content are/were you in your 40s? Does it get better in our 50s? Where are you with your values? 

Photo by Jonas Humbel on Unsplash

Photo by Jacob Townsend on Unsplash

brenda knowles online school

I’m excited to announce my latest courses on brendaknowles.teachable.com

 Is It Introversion or Insecure Attachment? Why We Withdraw or Distance from Our Partners

If you have wondered why you or your partner drift away from intimacy and togetherness this course will have answers for you. If there is withdrawing or distancing between you and your loved one and you would like understand why, Is It Introversion or Is It Insecure Attachment? will help.

Click the links or images to learn more.
woman turned away

AND

Introverts Explained: Why We Love You but Need a Break from You

Are you or your partner an introvert? Does he get tired and want to go home after a few hours of socializing? Does she seem happy to be intimate one day and need space the next? Introverts Explained can help you gain understanding about yourself or your partner.

Introverts Explained course

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Michael Buley March 15, 2019 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    How content was I in my 40s? A lot of discontent with myself — much of it projected onto my first wife. A successful creative business. Though discontent, as I have always battled with ‘being enough,’ ‘doing enough,’ rarely content that I am, myself, enough.

    I have struggled with it all of my adult life.

    I’m 63. I continue to learn — about me. MY issues. I am learning to quit projecting my stuff, onto anyone else, in particular Carmen, my wife. That’s about the best I can say: I continue to learn.

    I am much more aware of who I am today, than I ever have been. My significant strengths, and my significant flaws. Things I fear, things I don’t get done because of my fear of rejection, my feelings of failure. I continue to learn, again and again, to monitor my self talk — and when I hear the negative, to stop, and shift it to positive — anything positive.

    In my 40s, my 50s, my now 60s, I have experienced severe downs, and extreme highs, exuberance, joy, laughter, happiness, delight. I hope to continue to experience my exuberant highs! … and realize that my lows, when they come, are not because of someone else doing / not doing something. Instead, it is because of my fears, insecurities, feelings of inadequacy. And that I continue to hear what I say to myself, and replace the negative with positive — with who I want, with what I want to feel. My lows, like storm clouds, pass. Always. And now I look within for the source of the storms — and it is indeed storming from within. I am learning to identify what it is — WITHIN me, not outside of me.

    So complex and many-faceted. And so simple. A struggle, a lifelong work and journey. And we can continue to learn, to see who we are, who we are not, and love all of who we are.

    Each of us is wired differently. We must know our wiring, too. What works for one person, works against another. What lifts one person, brings another down. No formula for happiness changes our wiring. We must learn to honor and love ourselves above all. It is not easy — not for me. And I know, too, that it is entirely doable.

    Great articles, Brenda — this one, the several previous to this one. Thank you, always, for the safe place you give to all of us who read you and learn from you.

    • Brenda Knowles March 17, 2019 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your insight and experience Michael. It sounds like you have gained self wisdom. I think that is a bonus of getting older. It is good to know ourselves and learn, learn, learn. You definitely come across as positive. I appreciate all of your comments.
      Did you get my email regarding scheduling a coaching session? I look forward to it. 🙂

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