What brings you fulfillment in your life?
For years, the limited – and, let’s face it, misogynistic – discourse around perimenopause and menopause portrayed this time of a woman’s life as an ending. While it is, in a way, to see it this way considering menopause is the end of menstruation, but that’s where it stops. It’s certainly not an end to our vitality, happiness, or fulfillment.
While focusing on how menopause is an opportunity and not an ending, it’s the perfect time to evaluate our lives and take stock of what we find important. After all, when was the last time you purposely explored what in life makes you happy and fulfilled? We’re often so distracted by other things in life, that this exploration goes by the wayside. Here are some things to consider as part of your fulfillment as you begin this journey…
When we get to midlife, it’s easy to get lost in thinking about the past or worrying about the future. After all, for the first time, the two are equally weighed against the present. We have a remarkable ability to exist outside the present moment, but by living mindfully and in the present, we chose a more fulfilling experience. Not only does mindfulness help connect us with the people and places around us, but it also lowers feelings of anxiety and improves focus for better mental health. And perhaps most importantly, mindfulness connects us to ourselves. It allows us to become more complete individuals who embrace our unique purposes. As mindfulness guru Thich Nhat Hanh says:
“[Mindfulness] is a very important practice. Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.”
In his book The Courage to be Disliked, philosopher Ichiro Kishimi credits the concept of “community feeling” and contributing to that community as a driving force behind happiness in life. In his eyes, having that feeling of contribution eliminates a lot of our need for recognition and our sense of deprivation from not having said recognition when we want it. Having a sense of community fosters confidence and self-acceptance...in other words, fulfillment.
When we have a supportive community around us to contribute to, we have room in our life for true fulfillment. It feels good to help others, and having people there to lean on when needed makes getting through bad times easier. Furthermore, being part of a community is an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself. It can help break us out of the limited mindsets of entitlement and egoism. Instead, we become accustomed to focusing on everything we have and are grateful for.
Midlife is not an excuse to settle into complacency. Now is the most important time to challenge ourselves and get out of our comfort zones and grow. Being open to new ideas and experiences helps us discover new avenues of joy and fulfillment. Overcoming challenges builds self-esteem and keeps the mind and body sharp. Studies have shown that learning new, complicated skills can improve cognitive function and may help stave off age-related neurological disorders such as dementia. Staying committed to growth and learning will help you live a longer, more enjoyable life.