Are we in Midlife Crisis or Pursuing Happiness?

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Our new life in France

Here comes 40. I’m feeling my age and I’ve ordered the ferrari. I’m going to get the whole mid-life crisis package. Keanu Reeves

When people hear our story about how we sold it all to move across the world searching for happiness, many called it our “midlife crisis”. I decided to write about how I feel about their knee jerk definition of our journey.

Alfonz and I are pushing forty, roughly reaching our midlife point, which either serves as a reflective time to look back at what we have accomplished or the things we did not. We move forward towards the downhill slide that is the end of our life. Ouch, that is a harsh way of looking at it, but it does cross my mind.

The stereotypical man gets hair plugs, buys a brand new sports car and tries to relive his youth by hitting on younger women who cross his path. Women usually go through midlife crisis simultaneously with menopause and empty nesting, both labeling the women as emotionally unstable and in crisis.  (Lucky us.) She distracts herself with the kitchen renovation, volunteer work or one of her many hobbies, just so she doesn’t have to watch her husband make a complete fool of himself in front of every woman that comes within walking distance of them. Or men that re-live by talking about, usually in great detail, their past conquests to the younger men in the room. The thought makes me cringe and I can only hope Alfonz will keep those conversations out of earshot. Such is life. We all grow old. No ones gets out of this place alive.

They both become aware that one day they too will die and it is time to live the second half of life knowing as much. Time is of the essence, as they say. While some realize the best half is behind them and feel stuck in their life; panic sets in and they display some stereotypical behaviours, while others actively pursuit what they have always wanted. The pursuit of happiness.

What makes happy people different from everyone else?

People that pursue their happiness decide to put themselves back on their to do list. In addition, they do not waver. Feeding your soul in turn feeds your passion and in turn feeds your life. If you do everything out of passion, people notice. That is the law of attraction working. People want to be part of that positive energy. It may not happen overnight but it will happen.

In our twenties, we are indestructible. It never crossed my mind to do anything other than work hard and play harder. Alfonz and I spent more time on one wheel than two on his crotch rocket Suzuki GSX-R. When death seemed far away, we lived in the moment, enjoyed living on the edge and found it thrilling. That was before our children came along.

The twenties are also full of insecurities and big decisions on what to do when we grown up. We blame our parents for most of our bad decisions until we decide it is time to take responsibility of our own lives. We try on hats, we try our options and we search for who we are as defined outside of our families.

Somewhere in my early-mid thirties, I stopped trying to be anything other than myself. As quirky as I may be, as vast as my hobbies and interests are, I decided to embrace who I truly am. I make no apologies. I finally feel comfortable in my own skin. How does the serenity prayer go? Give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change and to change the things I can, and know the difference between the two. We can’t change our upbringing, or our past but where we go from there is totally up to you! 

My thirties were about my kid’s future, building a life around them and giving them the security I never had. Being there for every milestone was the most important thing to me and it proved a rewarding time in my life. I was my true self and that brings confidence. I loved my thirties but look forward to my forties with all I have learned along the way. I have never looked back, and always try to improve myself.

I look at my husband Alfonz. When I met him, he was a skinny eighteen-year-old kid; a typical late bloomer. At forty he has never looked better and has aged like fine wine; that distinguished grey on the hair above his ears, the tanned face from working outside, his deep smile lines and his muscular physique from working around the house. My happy man keeps up with the kids, taking them around our village on bikes, swimming, running through meadows and playing soccer. Our parents and grandparents were too exhausted from work to play with us at all. Alfonz seems like a very young forty to me.

Forties are the new thirties and it seems it is not nearly as old as it used to be. When my grandparents were my age, they only had 10-15 years left until a cozy freedom 55 retirement plan and not 25-33 years left working to retire somewhere between 65 and 73 years of age as we do. They did not want to voluntarily change their lives with the golden years so close to pursue something as frivolous as happiness. They worked, stuck it out, sucked it up and waited not to work.

There were other details to consider when talking about midlife. My grandparent’s children were out of the house by eighteen as adults fending in their world around them and were already grandparents by forty. Where my children are still small and my parents are still working, we have no empty nest in sight. We reach a time in history where children stay home until thirty and it is never questioned. People have children later in life, changing the dynamic we grew up with. I couldn’t imagine my children marrying at eighteen, that sounds like a disaster!

So the question remains, now that we reach forty are we in crisis? The answer is I am not entirely sure. I often wonder why people don’t reach a crisis point in our society years before midlife? To realize our life revolves around work, living for the weekends and holidays, not only should it put us all in crisis but far sooner than forty? Alternatively, is it an awakening from the routine of our lives which prompts us to ask, what is the meaning of it all? Can I do this for another thirty years? Moreover, do I really want to and who says I have to?

Since moving to France, I have an intense prolific energy. The kind you feel when you are in love. You know that feeling. You wake up early in the morning and cannot get them out of your mind. Some say love is a reflection, a mirror of ourselves. From this love you feel vigorous. My life reflects exactly what is in my heart. I look around at everything around us in France and it is an indication of what I love most. My garden, music, writing, sunshine and most importantly, time with my family. I am here, in the moment, and enjoying my life. And in my pursuit of happiness, I make goals towards change, and live life with deliberate action. It is not happiness but the pursuit that keeps us alive.

To some, it may look like a more difficult life simply from the stress surrounding a new life. Add in a language barrier, no support system or high income; some of these changes are far outside any comfort zone. We look at these challenges as part of living our dream, and have faith that our language, friends and more work will come our way with time. Money is not everything, so I am repeatedly finding out in my new world. The focus is on the little things, the moments together; where back home these instances were frantically overlooked. The seeds planted in our new life will grow. I have confidence in this.

We struck a balance for the first time between money and time. The time currency theory is the idea that time has more value than money. For me, that means starting out by earning less yet having flexible hours around my children’s schedule, resulting in a more satisfying life. If happiness were a currency, then we have won the lottery.

If you line up your life with your true passions, all will fall into place. We test this theory. I have the utmost faith in this theory.

Midlife crisis or pursuing happiness may be the same thing. The word ‘Crisis’ in greek means change. ‘Revelation’ is probably a better term. When personal experience and a growing awareness of our own mortality become great enough to override the programming of our youth. Then and only then will change occur. Just depends if you ever get there or not.

 

6 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds like you have the travel bug Maria! Alfonz and I considered Germany, but the weather is too similar to the West Coast of Canada. I believe the same statement applies that life is too short. Is there anywhere your husband may want to explore as a moving option? Or perhaps a compromise to buy a summer home in another country for both of you to fulfill your dreams?

  2. Oh my, my favorite topic!

    We came to Germany to stay for two years, and that was 18 years ago. My husband (U.S. American) loves it here and I can’t get him to leave.
    Life in Germany is good and even convenient at times, but there is more out there.
    Oh well.
    The urge/desire to move can’t be midlife crisis. If so, this means I’ve had this since my early 20s 🙂
    I’ve had ten years abroad, so I should be happy.

  3. Ivis, (Evie) that’s what my family calls me too! Glad the article helped you make a decision. Life is too short to not go after your dreams, no matter what they are. I love Budapest Hungary, and we go back often. You are in for quite an adventure.
    Please tell me more about yourslef. Where are you originally from?

  4. Thank you so much for this article . You have no idea how much it has helped us . We have decided to move to Hungary, in about a year. We are super excited to live a simpler life ; where we can spend sweet quality time together. Before I read this article , I was a bit nerveous, thinking how would we make a living ?, how would we get around?, all kinds of thoughts. Completely forgetting , that this is where our soul is leading us . May we keep in touch please :)) Thank you so much :))

  5. So funny because in the world of blogging, I see you as the one person that actually makes money at it. But I guess once you reach a certain level of success with something and feel like your goal is complete, it is then time to move along to the next goal, isn’t it. That’s what keeps us growing, always reaching and striving for the things that challenge us and make us happy. If it is not where you truly want to be, you need to change it. Life is too short not to.

  6. I’ve written about this same thing. Getting close to 40, I feel like I am having a mid life crisis – wanting to do crazier things, quit my job, travel more, etc. I can’t say I am more content now but I do think about my life a lot and what I want it to look like. I think I look much better at 38 than I did at 18. However, is my life really where I want it to be? That’s the question I am wrestling with.

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