Are you truly happy?
If the answer is yes, it will show on your face. It will also make you glow in a way that anything store bought out of a bottle or tube could never even hope to achieve.
I was super happy to sit down with happiness expert Lisa Cypers Kamen who yesterday gave us great advice on how to "up your happiness" quotient.
A few of her tips included drinking Florida orange juice, deep breathing exercises and dancing like mad to a hot salsa tune.
Today, I asked Lisa about some specific midlifer situations that directly impact our happiness…including those moments that literally wipe the smiles off our faces such as being thrust into a caretaker mode or rebuilding financially after the recession.
Kamen, an internationally recognized positive psychology life coach, also shares her amazing tips on live weekly radio podcast called "Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio." You should read her book, "Are We Happy Yet? Strategies for Post-Deployment" or her free eBook, "Got Happiness Now?"
She talked to me about the big stuff: What makes you happy? How do you become happy and have a life full of joy?
Q: It's easy for life to get stuck in a rut when you're a midlifer. That seems like a happiness glitch. Any advice here?
A: "Get out and be with people. Don't become a hermit. Be kind to yourself. Do something new each day. Talk to a new person. Take a new way home from work or school. Do something you're not used to doing to maintain your sense of curiosity and wonder. Happy people are constantly in a state of wonder and awe. You should look at the world as an adventure. I find that men and women of a certain age are saying, 'Is that all there is.' You have to work on your sense of delight and wonder. Don't allow it to become tarnished."
Q: Do you think those of us over 40 are too serious?
A "I do encourage people to be more playful. Do what inspires that sense of play in you because it will also trigger more curiosity."
Q: You've said that getting outdoors is key, too.
A: "I live in a beautiful place at the beach, so I get outside a lot. Many people don't do that in their life. There is a tendency to hole up in the house, especially in the winter. It's really important to get out in the sunshine. Make it a priority."
Q: Do you think midlifers are too hard on themselves?
A: "I think the key to happiness is to be kind to yourself. You've heard the old adage, 'If momma ain't happy, nobody is happy.'"
Q: You talk about living in gratitude. How do you do that on a practical level?
A: "I think a great way to live in gratitude is to be of service to someone else. It could be volunteering or even your service could be anonymous. I teach my kids to look for people who have expired meters. Throw a few coins in! You've of service now. You're a meter angel!"
Q: The economic recession wiped the happiness away for many families. Any advice on how to become happy again?
A: "In this post recession time, it's really about how we define ourselves. What do we define as happiness? In the past, our western society prior to the recession defined ourselves by how much material wealth we could gather as opposed to sustainable and authentic happiness. Happiness is not in a shopping bag now. Now in this post recessionary time, the new normal is to do with less. We are redefining happiness. There is nothing like a great new pair of heels. But at the end of the day when those heels are off and you take your last breath, you're not going to find happiness in the memories of those heels."
Q: So many of my friends at this age are caretakers of ailing, elderly parents. Any advice on how to retain happiness when you're being pulled in so many directions as a caretaker?
A: "My parents are alive and one set of them is sick. They're health challenged. I think it's important to be aware of life when this is the situation. Above all, it's really about spending time together with your parents if they're ill. It's about creating the most positive memories and connections while they're still here."
Q: Any tips for midlifers who have recently lost a parent?
A: Many people are also going through the grief of losing a parent. To find your happiness again, you must realize that when they go, the relationship you have with them doesn't die. Their physical presence isn't here anymore. The affection and connection and all the deep stuff is still present. That's what we carry with us. If you've just lost a parent, use the positive recollection of your memories when you're unhappy. Immediately think of a positive event with this person and that will make you happy in the moment although it's hard to let go."
Q: Do you believe people choose to be happy …or unhappy?
A: "I say that happiness is an inside job. It truly is your choice. I work with veterans returning from war. They sign up with the military to serve our country and often return with trauma. I see so many of them choosing happiness because they're grateful just to be alive. So, yes, happiness is a choice."