Going through a divorce is typically a very stressful and miserable time. You have a lot coming at you all at once. You are getting accustomed to the idea of being alone for the first time in a long time. You are getting used to the idea of being a single parent and all that entails. You are trying to figure out how to rebuild your life after the divorce. When people go through that type of trauma, it can often be difficult to find ways to be happy.

In this two-part article, we will be learning more about happiness, how to become happier, and how to eliminate toxic relationships, even with your ex. Let’s get started.

Becoming Happier

Happiness can seem like it is difficult to achieve, particularly after a divorce. However, it is possible to become happy, well-adjusted, and have a more positive outlook after getting past toxic relationships. Dr. Elia Gougouris says that there are three things that happy people do differently from unhappy people and that they do these three things consistently.

The first is that they take personal responsibility for their lives. They understand that they are the ones that choose to do certain things. They aren’t trying to push the blame for a bad outcome onto another person.

The second is that they learn from the mistakes they make and the setbacks they have. They use those mistakes as a way to grow and to reduce the risk of making the same or similar mistakes in the future.

The third is the ability to let things go. This means that they are living in the present and the future rather than the past. If something happened a year or several years ago, they aren’t carrying all of that negative baggage with them going forward. The same can hold true in a divorce. Just because you have gone through a divorce after several years of marriage—or several decades of marriage—doesn’t mean that you should continue to bring that frustration or pain with you going forward. You need to learn to let it go.

Too many people are going through life burdened by their past. They carry it with them every single day, often for years and years. They are letting their past dictate their present and their future. They are letting those old worries, failures, and doubts affect them now.

How do you forgive yourself, though? This is often difficult for people. Dr. Gougouris says to start by writing down all of the things that you haven’t forgiven yourself for and assign them a number value between one and 10 with one being a small issue and 10 being a large issue. Start with the little things, the easy ones. Learn to forgive yourself of those problems from your past, and then move on to the larger, tougher ones.

The only thing you can do with the past is to take responsibility, learn from it, and let it go. It is the best way to be happy. As Dr. Gougouris says, your future is determined by the choices you make today.

What Do Happy People Do?

One of the most important things to take away is that happy people understand the importance of self-care and self-love. They look at and evaluate how they are doing mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually to see what areas of their life might need to change. They provide themselves with the care they need in these four categories to help ensure a happier and more positive outlook. If they find that they are struggling in one of the areas, then they will find ways that they can take better care of themselves to fix the problem. They tend to be more proactive when it comes to taking good care of themselves.

You mustn’t procrastinate happiness. This means that you shouldn’t tell yourself that you can wait to be happy until after the divorce or until you get your dream job. You can and should strive to be happy now. There are no guarantees in life. Tomorrow is not promised. Find ways to practice your best life now and going forward. Self-care is very important for this.

The next thing that happy people have in common is gratitude. When you are in a grateful place, void of toxic relationships, you will be in a happy place. Of course, we all know that gratitude comes easily when things are going your way. When you have good things happening in your life, you will be grateful. However, the problem for most people comes when they are facing problems in their life. Many people find that it’s hard to be grateful when they are dealing with issues.

It is possible to be grateful even in the face of adversity, as long as you use the tips above on becoming happy. Even when you are facing troubles in your life, there will still be things that you are grateful for. It might be gratefulness for having your children, for having good friends, your pets, a hobby… take the time to find the things that make you grateful, no matter how small they might seem, and think about them daily.

Find your purpose in life. Happy people tend to know what they want to do with their life. People find their purpose at different points in their life. Some find it when they are young. Others don’t find it until they are older. How do you find it? You have to listen to yourself and think about what you should be doing in life. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean listening to your inner critic. It means finding the thing that makes you happy.

Becoming happy can take some time and some work, but the effort is well worth it. Find ways that you can be happier, that you can take care of yourself, and that you can start to live the life that you want.

Of course, even with all of the self-care and positivity in the world, if you surround yourself with toxic people, you are going to have trouble. We’ll discuss more regarding toxic relationships and getting rid of them in Part 2.