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I'm 48 and I have never felt more alive

Joyologist Donna Easton shares how she found happiness in midlife by ignoring her inner critic

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1 February 2024
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We have been told for too long that we must shrink into the background once we reach a certain age, but when I reached midlife, I did the opposite.

At 45, I was working in a corporate role as Head of Commercial. I was good at my job, but I didn't feel I deserved to be there. The metaphorical uniform always felt wrong, like I was a kid wearing my mum's high heels and playing at being a businessy person. When I spoke, I'd hear the ridiculous faux middle-class business voice as I tried to pretend that I wasn't from southeast London and hoped it would mask my inadequacy.

Imposter syndrome

I constantly felt I wasn't meant to be there, and I'd feel the imposter inside me snigger and whisper in my ear, 'Are you trying to sound like one of the grown-ups? They’ll see right through it.'

When Covid came along, I was furloughed and I realised I had a choice. I wanted a life full of moments of joy, acts of love and kindness and a whole new way of living – and only I could make it happen.

Woman smiling in a colourful outfit
Donna Easton knew she needed to make a change

Retraining my brain

I retrained my brain. I worked out what I needed to do to be happy and everything changed. It all started looking rosier, fresher and more exciting, like someone had turned the vibrancy up on my life.

I turned 45 in the October of 2020 and in November with a mixture of elation and terror, I walked out of my job to embark on my new life as a Joyologist. On reflection, post 45, I have simply never felt more alive.

Getting back on stage

I realised I needed to step out of my comfort zone to rediscover who I was before. I had always been a performer, but I stopped in my late thirties, believing that nobody wanted to see a 40-something on stage.

Woman on stage in orange jacket
Donna is back at her best at 48

Keen to rediscover the joy of performing, I invented Well-Me-Oke, a mass-karaoke-wellbeing show that I take to festivals and events and guess what? Some people do want to see a 48-year-old prancing around on stage and quite honestly, it’s a defiant message to that old me who thought her inner performer was long gone.

INSPIRATION: I changed my entire life at 54 – here's what happened 

I make it my mission to act like a wally brain so that the audience's inhibitions slip away and they have the permission to goof off, sing with air-grabby passion and access a diva or frontman that has been hiding away beneath the adult layers.

Woman on stage in black adidas outfit
Donna embraced her inner-child and feels happier than ever

Facing the fear

Many of the people I work with are mid-lifers and I often ask, 'What would you do if you didn’t give a monkey’s what people would think?'. The answers I get are always wonderfully mind-blowing and have ranged from 'I’d jump on the bouncy castle with my children' to 'I’d travel around the country in my campervan.'

When we feel nervous about stepping out of our comfort zone, I tell my clients to ask themselves, 'What am I afraid of?'

We have to quieten down society’s voice that tells us we're too old to be starting new things. We have been told for too long that we must shrink into the background once we reach a certain age and even though I feel a growing defiance in the air, there is still a long way to go.

Take it bit by bit and ease yourself into the things that will stretch you. They’ll form new neural pathways in your brain and start to make you feel alive again.

Re-awaken the naughty you that’s been adulted away. Pinch your husband’s bum, roll around on the floor with your kids, do the things that your spirit wants and seek out that voice. Deep down, it’s there. The voice that tells you, ‘I’m not afraid of anything’.

Find out more about Donna's work as a joylogist and visit HELLO!'s Happiness Hub for more mood-boosting stories.

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