Skip to main contentSkip to footer
Digital Cover second-act

My secret to happiness at 65

Relationship therapist Sally Baker shares her essentials for happiness

By: Sally Baker
May 16, 2024
Share this:

Happiness often seems elusive - a fleeting feeling that slips through our fingers when we chase it too hard.

Ironically, when we actively pursue happiness, that's when it feels most out of reach. The truth is, authentic happiness isn't about constantly being in a state of bliss.

It comes from cultivating resilience—the ability to accept and work through all emotions, ride out life's inevitable challenges, and ultimately become more robust.

Woman looking up outside© Getty
Learning to be resilient takes time

How to become resilient

1. Accept sadness and fear

The first step to resilience is making peace with discomfort. We're conditioned to avoid or deny difficult emotions such as sadness, fear and anxiety.

However, repressing feelings doesn't make them go away – it only allows them to resurface later with more force. Instead of pushing negativity away, practice allowing yourself to feel all emotions without judgment.


When you notice anxiety or sadness arising, lean into these sensations fully instead of distracting yourself. This radical acceptance builds emotional courage and prevents feelings from festering.

2. Let go of emotional control strategies

Many of us rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms to avoid uncomfortable emotions, such as overworking, numbing with substances/behaviours, or forcing toxic positivity.

While understandable attempts to regain control, these strategies ultimately reject our authentic human experience and are exhausting to maintain in the long term. True resilience means letting go of constantly managing your emotional state. Create space to be present with your feelings as they come.

profile portrait of woman in field, sunset© Getty
Being resilient is key for happiness

3. Show yourself compassion

Our society often dismisses difficult emotions such as anger, sadness and fear as negative or unacceptable. However, resilience involves befriending the full spectrum of your feelings – even the ones that make you uncomfortable.

 READ: I'm happier than ever at 50 - here's how 

Have the courage to treat sensations such as grief, rage and anxiety with compassion instead of judgment. By fully feeling and processing these challenging experiences, you paradoxically create more space for lasting joy.

4. Embrace life's cycles

When we try to select only 'positive' emotions and numb out the rest, we risk becoming numb to the richness of life itself.

Resilience means embracing life's natural cycles of joy and sorrow, gain and loss, pain and healing. As you ride these waves, you cultivate deeper emotional intelligence, self-awareness, gratitude and appreciation for the entire journey.

5. Build your inner strength

Resilience isn't about stoically enduring life's hardships — it's about developing skills to thrive amidst adversity. You build an unwavering wellspring of inner strength and determination when you practice adapting to change and navigating ups and downs with self-compassion. This unshakable core grants you the confidence to overcome any obstacle life brings.

A beautiful black woman with white curly hair  drinks coffee in her kitchen© Getty
Becoming resilient will help us feel happier

Why resilience is essential for happiness

Resilience is the key that unlocks lasting contentment. It frees you from relying on perpetually 'positive' circumstances or emotions as your sole source of fulfilment.

With resilience, you develop a more grounded, sustainable wellspring of peace that enhances your life experience. The path isn't always easy, but resilience provides wisdom to move through life's highs and lows with authenticity, self-acceptance and an appreciation for the full depth of the human journey.

Introducing HELLO!'s Second Act

Two women out shopping for the day, taking a break and sitting down on a couch in a clothing store together.© Getty

HELLO! wanted to create a space dedicated to sharing incredible stories from midlife; somewhere you can find inspiring stories of like-minded women, living their best life beyond 45.

Enter, Second Act...

For too long, we were expected to fade into the background when we hit 45, but we're here to reframe your Second Act as a celebratory, exciting new chapter with endless possibilities ahead.

From women who embarked on new careers in their fifties, to those who travelled the world alone after their children left home, to women who finally felt confident when they reached their forties, Second Act is devoted to celebrating the incredible stories of midlife, and we'd love to have you along for the journey - because being part of a community makes everything more enjoyable.

Visit HELLO!'s Second Act hub 

Sally Baker is a senior therapist specialising in relationships and trauma. She is the author of The Getting of Resilience From The Inside Out, published by Hammersmith Books.

More Second Act

See more