A Happy Life…


“…very little is needed to make a happy life.” – Marcus Aurelius

While it is unlikely that you will lose everything, your earnings and lifestyle may take a turn for the worse during and after your divorce. But this doesn’t necessarily have to be a terrible thing.

Sometimes having less and simplifying life for you and your family may not be the worst thing. Cut your cable bill so there is no more TV? Maybe that creates more time for family game night. Saving money by reducing your cell phone data plan? It’s amazing the great conversations you can have when your cell phone is away. A change of perspective can be a powerful thing.

Reading Marcus Aurelius’ quote brought me back to a volunteer trip I did in Monteverde, Costa Rica (at that time, it was not the tourist attraction it is today but a poor, rural town on the edge of the rainforest).

You would think I would have brought many memories back from that trip (and I did!):

  • Earthquakes (a 7.2 the first night we were there)
  • Monkeys (howler monkeys throw their feces at you when you get too close)
  • Bats (midnight bat trapping and tagging)
  • Scorpions (check your shoes before you put them on!))

…but the strongest memory I still hold onto is how happy the people were. And they had nothing.  Living in shacks. Enough but definitely not excess food.  Limited electricity. No unnecessary ‘things’.

It was a different time and a different culture but I had never seen such pure joy in living every day and appreciation for the important things – health, family, friends, community. Even when a cow walked through one of the town restaurants and caused a decent amount of damage (yes, this really did happen!), the owners simply laughed and the community pulled together to get everything fixed and back on track. Time and time again, I have experienced (and been part of) these devastating events and seen the amazing communities that pull together in support. The fear of the worst case scenario, not the scenario itself,  always seems to be the worst part.

As difficult as it seems, a helpful exercise as you navigate divorce is to experience  a worst case scenario and live as minimally as you can for a week to give yourself a sense of how life would be if you lost everything. Flip the switch on your emotions and try it, even for a day. Give yourself a very minimal budget, live without TV, limit your cell usage, stick to one or two outfits…as much as you can do to experience your fear of losing everything.

You may find that your life has become simpler…and perhaps even happier?

Take any lessons you learn and work them into your life today. Learn to lean more on your community – find those that are there for you (and be there for them as you are able). Live with less and try to appreciate the truly important things in life, however you define them. Live with the knowledge that you can figure it out.

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