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Hello everybody, welcome to episode 152 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino and welcome to another edition of OLA. The question we have for you today does a nice job of compounding the one that we took a look at in episodes 150 and 151. In the face of big separations, how we can we find ourselves anew and build the right future for ourselves after a divorce?

While our listeners today and from our last episode have found themselves in relatively similar circumstances, there are certainly unique variables on each side in addition to different stages of regrowth, which just goes to show how nobody’s journey, in spite of similar large events, is ever quite the same. Here’s the question…

QUESTION: “Almost two years ago, I divorced my husband of 24 years. I have been married all of my adult life and had children in my twenties. My life had been filled with caring for my children and my husband.

Now my children are adults and I am not anyone's wife. My marriage provided room for me to excavate my “stuff”, do some self-work, and make sense of why I am who I am. I am blessed and grateful for every day, but am not in love with my life (yet).

I have a lot of inputs (OLD podcasts and similar content) and I have always considered myself a lifelong learner. There is a gap between where I am and being fully engaged in a life that I cherish. I'm trying to figure out how to craft a life I am in love with.”

Listen to Greg narrate this post on life after a divorce in Episode 152 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.

Is It Possible to Always be Happy?

Ok, good question and like I said in the intro, even a bit similar to the one we answered in the last two episodes, so I hope you’re able to find those ones helpful to you as well.

I want to start my answer by referencing that gap that you mention – the gap between where you’re at and being fully engaged in a life that you cherish, or not being in love with your life yet as you said right before that.

In situations like these, we often think that the problem (even if it seems slight and manageable) is not having a life in which our happiness is a constant 10/10. Or we’re unhappy with work because things never seem to go as planned. Or we’re unhappy with our bodies because they don’t look exactly how we want them to.

Frustration and Expectations

The frustration does not lie in not having the result we want; it relies in us expecting to achieve it.

Life will have hardship. Work will be unpredictable. Our bodies will have their flaws. If we resist the truth that every area of life will come wish shortcomings no matter how hard we try, we struggle.

However, if we accept the uncertainty or lack of accomplishment, the sharpness of such a gap fades dramatically.

Growing Gratitude

I might encourage you not to worry so much about filling that gap (though we’ll talk about how to), but instead welcome it. Presumably this won’t be too difficult for you if you consider yourself a person who is grateful for every day.

Remaining appreciative even in the face of what we don’t have or may never have is how your gratitude can grow even more and a more abstract yet true way of having an easier time loving your life.

Now with that being said, that’s no reason to roll over and not even try to make good changes on the outside. We can still strike the perfect balance of making changes we want, yet not being so attached to them or needing them to keep improving.

So let the first step of appreciating and respecting who you are and what you have right now linger over the remainder of my answer.

Editor's Note:  Listen to Rachel Shanken's post on building gratitude in Episode 1771 of the podcast Optimal Living Daily.

Life After a Divorce: Crafting A Life You Love

As far as making those changes goes (or crafting a life that you’re in love with), I think the answer to how to effectively do that that lies in the discoveries you said you made about making sense of why you are who you are.

Having and capitalizing on the opportunity to do that self-work is wonderful, but where has it left you? Have your discoveries led you to be happy with why you are who you are, or is there still something to be desired?

If you’ve made sense of who you are and find it very easy to like yourself, then that’s great! But it’s going to be easy to feel out of alignment if you’ve not created action and behavior that helps you to let this identity breathe.

In other words, you can fully understand who you are and why your life story has made it so, but if the way you live your life doesn’t let that part of you breathe, things are going to get tricky. It’s like saying that you’ve discovered you have a burning passion to create artwork because your parents were artists, creating artwork has been the best way you’ve received credit and respect from others since childhood and you’ve always felt the most relief and expression when taking it out on a canvas.

Awesome to connect those dots and realize that about yourself, but it’s not going to do you much good if you’re never putting time aside to paint or even go to art galleries.

What Can You Do To Accept The Way You Are?

On the other hand, if you’ve made sense of who you are and you don’t like it, then what can you do to accept it, grasp the logic behind why you’ve become the way that you are, pinpoint areas you’d like to alter and create systems that help you to do so?

If this is the case for you, both your actions and your mentality need to be in play. Suffocating your true self with good activities that help you morph into a better version of you will not work if the whole time you’re cursing yourself for being the way that you are.

Likewise, accepting less than desirable attributes but assuming they’re a life sentence and not making any changes to your daily life is going to impede you from living out healthy potential.

So really hone in how you feel about the discoveries you made, use your gratitude to find the beauty in them, and be sure that your days are filled with activities that move you in a good direction based on that.

Life After a Divorce: Keep Learning

Now I’ll wrap up by offering two things I noticed in your question that can maybe give you a boost into crafting a life that you’re more easily in love with; things that seem to be a part of you just in case you’ve disregarded them:

First, I’d advise that you make sure you’re finding ways to keep learning. If you consider yourself a lifelong learner and enjoy the new insights you get from the shows in this network (thanks for that by the way), then I recommend continuing to find avenues to learn.

Maybe it means upping your reading or even taking some courses that teach you new skills or educate you on new things. It’s not only good that you’ve learned this about yourself, but it’s a good thing to have learned, so double down on it.

Editor's Note:  Listen to Rosalyn Palmer's post on learning from your past in Episode 1698 of the podcast Optimal Living Daily.

Life After a Divorce: Conclusion

And finally I also recommend that you do what you can to maintain a lot of family time.

Being newly divorced and having children that no longer need care taking doesn’t mean that family life should no longer be a part of your agenda. It’s been a huge part of your life for a number of years and has undoubtedly been a good influence, do whether it’s making extra time to see your kids, keeping up with siblings or parents, or maybe even doing some babysitting, I’d suggest that you at least keep some sense of family connection in your life.

People who have newfound independence at your age don’t often bode well when they try to take on a fierce sense of commitment-free living. Your family time has brought you value for a reason.

Enjoy your new freedoms, but don’t neglect that part of you just because you can.

And that will bring us to the end everyone, thank you asker for sending this in. I hope you’ve got some new ideas as to what to do with your discoveries both on the inside and the outside and that you’re able to use these ideas to craft the right life for you.

Now anyone else out there who has a question they’d like some help with, I hope you’ll consider emailing to us so we can help you on the show. If you email your questions to advice AT oldpodcast DOT com, I’ll answer here as well as give you a written transcript of your episode to hang on to if you’d like.

Thank you everyone for showing up today and listening through the end. We’ve got other great questions coming up for you after the weekend, so enjoy your next few days and look forward to more from us on the other side of it. Take care guys.

Listen to Greg narrate this post on life after a divorce in Episode 152 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.

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Greg Audino

Greg Audino is a Rhode Island-born certified life coach, actor, and graduate of Goucher College. He is the host of the mental health podcast Optimal Living Advice and narrates dating, marriage, and parenting content over at Optimal Relationships Daily.
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