3 Most Effective Ways for Empty Nesters to Find Happiness Today
It’s finally time. Do you have kids wrapping up their senior year of high school this Spring? You’re not alone.
For most parents going through this “empty nest” transition, the emotions are as strong as they are polarizing.
Sad and happy. Scared and excited. Balancing the thoughts of “Are they going to miss me?” with “I want them to totally immerse themselves in this exciting time in their lives.”
However, perhaps more gut-wrenching than your child being out there on his or her own is the simple fact that YOUR identity changes almost over night. Being an empty nester is considered to be a new chapter in a parent’s life, but here are 3 reasons for why it should be seen as an entirely new book instead.
1. You haven’t had time to think about who you are in decades
Why would you? With ever-growing grocery lists, team practices, and the other 237 things on your to-do list - it’s actually laughable at how rarely you ever get a moment just for you. And although the opportunity to “Do whatever you want” sounds appealing on the surface, the reality is that many empty nesters really don’t know what to do simply because they haven’t had the opportunity to ever ask themselves - Who am I? And what am I about?
This is not only totally normal, but also a sign of being a selfless parent.
Deepak Chopra, renowned physician & mind-body healer, gave a few suggestions as to re-discovering who you are at your core, including visualization of your future-self and a consistent meditation practice.
If you notice that you are feeling stuck when you think about how you want to spend your time, work backwards. Leaning into the cliché, “Live today like it was your last,” might make you roll your eyes at first, but will greatly clarify what you want to accomplish and who you want to become in this new beginning.
2. You have to honestly assess the quality of your current relationships
For years the dinner conversations have largely been led by your child’s re-cap of his or her day, but not anymore. Although there are some unforeseen benefits ranging from anything like the sweet liberty of walking around the house without clothes, to no longer being mocked by your kids incessantly; this period of transition still requires some inevitably difficult adjustments.
Whether you are married or a single-parent, it will become increasingly challenging to drown out the awkward silence if you don’t have a good relationship with you or your spouse. If you find yourself out of sync with the ones around you, take some time to truly assess whether they will speed you up or slow you down from where you want to go.
If traveling has always been a goal of yours once the kids moved out, then make sure you and your loved ones allow you to pursue that dream. Common questions to gauge these relationships are, “Do I think of this person often?” or “Do I feel valued and respected to be myself around this person?” If the answer is no to these questions it does not mean all hope is lost, but it should invite you to do a little more self-exploration on each of your relationships moving forward.
3. Trying new things requires the courage to be vulnerable
A recent experiment at the University of Maryland shows the human brain is actually genetically conditioned to release dopamine (the same feel-good chemical released from pleasurable behaviors such as eating food or having sex) when we avoid pain or negative behaviors. In other words, our body biologically rewards us when we choose to do something that won’t make us feel bad.
Take for example, the feeling of embarrassment.
Avoiding situations where you may make a fool of yourself is usually a good idea, or so your brain tells you. Like walking into that first workout class after not exercising for more than a decade after kids, or joining a friend at that dance class even though you know you have absolutely no rhythm whatsoever - acting despite your fear of failure takes guts.
To move past this, take a moment to pause and perform a simple body scan to pinpoint where exactly in your body you feel the nervousness, anxiety, or whatever emotion bubbles up before entering a “vulnerable” situation. The practice of being still and simply noticing is correlated with an “overall energy increase, allowing you to accomplish more of your goals, and actually experience no loss in productivity.”
Still want more?
We all do! A great place to do a thorough and effective re-set on who you are, what matters most, and where you want your time and energy to go once the kids move out is at Synchronicity. Check out our facility and learn more about how your life can be enhanced in just 90 days.