By Kimberly Blaker
Going through a breakup, divorce, or the death of a spouse isn’t easy. You’ve lost your lover and your confidant, cheerleader, activity partner, support system, and best friend. Such a loss can be devastating. As such, it’s only natural to grieve. In fact, allowing yourself to grieve is vital to your recovery. You’ll need time (and perhaps even professional help) to work through your denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—the five stages of grief.
But even as you work through this challenging period, you can begin building a happy, full life. Working toward moving on doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten the person you lost or your prior life. It merely means you recognize your emotional and physical well-being depends on getting back to a healthy, positive life. Yes, you’ll still experience some sadness and miss the person and life you’ve lost. Allow yourself to feel sad as often as you need to. But, also look for at least one, if not multiple ways to uplift yourself each and every day.
Taking time for personal growth is an excellent way to raise your spirits. So focus some time and energy on self-discovery, becoming a more fabulous you, and finding new ways to enjoy life to its fullest. There’s no need to forget the person and life you lost. To the contrary, cherish those great memories. But build on them by enjoying new experiences and a newfound appreciation for all life has to offer.
Self Discovery & the Path To Your New Happy
There are so many avenues to self-discovery. The truth is you might never even reach your final destination. That’s because self-discovery is really an ongoing process. As the seasons of your life come and go, you’ll continually grow and change. The good news is, we live in a big, beautiful world that’s full of possibilities, endless things to experience, and always new knowledge to be had. Let some of these ideas be a springboard to help you find your new groove.
Learn a new skill. It doesn’t have to be for career growth or change, although it could be. Learning a new skill offers lots of other benefits. In fact, it’s good for your brain. It increases the speed at which you learn new skills, improves your performance on other tasks, and expands your knowledge. It also reduces your risk of dementia. There are other benefits, too. Learning a new skill makes you more adaptable to change (such as you’re going through now). It also provides an additional outlet to stave off boredom and makes you a more interesting person.
The great thing about learning a new skill is the multitude of choices to fit everyone’s interests. There are also numerous avenues for learning new skills today. Take an online class or go for a classroom setting. You can also buy or borrow books to learn on your own, read instructional articles online, and watch YouTube videos, webinars, and more.
Volunteer. This is another way to expand your skills while also making the world a better place. Volunteering is also beneficial to your emotional health. According to research, those who volunteer become happier, enjoy reduced stress, and gain self-esteem. It also increases your social connections. In turn, all these factors contribute to a healthier, longer life.
New friends. After a loss, making new friends is often imperative. If you’re like most people in a relationship, you spent most of your free time with your partner. As a result, you may have only a small pool of friends. So get in touch with old friends and catch up. You might discover new things you have in common that rekindle your friendship. Also, make new friends through work, classes, and volunteering. Meetup.com is another option. You’ll discover a plethora of different types and age groups. There’s truly something for everyone.
Music. If you’re a music lover, you know what a mood-booster that music can be. Yet, if you’re like most people, you’ve listened to the same few genres of music throughout your life. So visit your library to explore different types of music, and check out a variety of CDs. Try multiple artists within each genre, since styles vary widely among any genre. You might be surprised at the music you fall in love with and have missed all your life. Beyond the more popular rock, rap, R&B, and country, there’s also folk, blues, jazz, and classical. Also, don’t skip over the world music section. You’ll find Irish/Celtic, flamingo, reggae, Latin, Zydeco, Afrobeat, and so much more.
Movies and film. Everyone has their favorite movie genres. But maybe it’s time to give some of those other genres a chance. Also, look for independent movie theaters where you can catch indie and foreign films. You’ll often find award-winning flicks in these theaters that never make it into mainstream theaters.
Art. This isn’t a world just for artists. Although you might discover you have a hidden talent you never realized. Think painting, drawing, sculpting, photography, printmaking, and so much more. The other option is the pure enjoyment of looking at art. Check out some art museums and galleries. You might even want to pick up a book or take a class on art appreciation to understand art at a whole new level.
Crafts. Hobbies offer a host of benefits, not to mention the crafty things you can make, keep, and give. Crafting relieves stress and depression, provides challenges, prevents boredom, and can even generate additional income. Consider wood crafts, leatherwork, needlework, glassmaking, paper crafts, and countless other options.
Travel. Whether you choose to explore your own state, other parts of the country, or the world, you’ll reap many benefits. A trip can be educational, enhances creativity, broadens your horizons, and, best of all, it’s fun. You can travel by car, train, or plane. Make the most of your trips by doing the research before you go, so you hit the right weather and don’t waste your visit figuring out what to do and see.
Food. Learn new cooking or baking skills on your own or by taking cooking classes. You might also take up a new pastime of cooking your favorite cuisine. If cooking isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy the savory experience. Explore a wider variety of foods. Taste a broader range of fruits and vegetables, and hit restaurants to try out cuisines you’ve never had before.
Sports & Fitness. Make exercise a regular part of your routine. This is one of the most valuable things you can do for your physical and emotional health. Oh. But you don’t like the “E” word? Then consider a sport. There are so many to choose from, whether you like team sports or prefer going solo. Golf, pickleball, swimming, Tai Chi, and dancing are just a few of your options.
Remember that whatever paths you choose for self-discovery and finding new happiness, you’ll likely experience a mixture of feelings along the way. Just be gentle with yourself and realize that grief is a process and happier days are on the horizon.
Kimberly Blaker is a freelance writer. She also owns an online bookshop, Sage Rare & Collectible Books, specializing in out-of-print, scarce, signed, and first editions; fine bindings; ephemera and more at sagerarebooks.com
There are many books and workbooks available to help you along your journey to self-discovery. Check out some of these top-rated choices.
Start Where You Are
A Journal for Self-Exploration by Meera Lee Patel
List Your Self
Listmaking as the Way to Self-Discovery by Ilene Segalove
The Good Goodbye
How to Navigate Change and Loss in Life, Love, and Work by Gladys Ato
This Time Next Year
365 Days of Exploration by Cynthia Scher
7 Shifts to Be Stronger, Smarter & Happier After Divorce by Deb Purdy
The Sun Still Rises
Surviving and Thriving after Grief and Loss by Shawn Doyle