Each week, spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra responds to Oprah.com users' questions with enlightening advice to help them live their best lives.
Q: Hi, i don't know how to be happy! I know that sounds ridiculous but it's true. I am 55 years old, i feel i'm normal but i don't get how to be happy! I have always been a get-up-and-go person. I have traveled and lived in a couple of countries. I married my childhood sweetheart at 18, and divorced him at 23. I have a truly wonderful son who is 36 years old. I live in paradise. I have good health. I have just about everything that a person could wish for but i think i could possibly be the loneliest person i know.
I can be a very social person; i love to sing and tell jokes. Alas, most of this is done in my own front room. I make Bridget Jones look exciting, really exciting. I haven't had a relationship in 18 years and that is really hard to admit. I often feel that i hope i don't live for too long, as I could not bare that. I feel sad 55 to 70 percent of the time. I often tell my son how i feel, and this, i know, is a terrible thing to do. Then i cripple myself with guilt. The stupid thing is i am a really confident person but then I get uncomfortable in my own skin. My life is passing me by and i don't know what to do. Kind regards Christine xxx
— Christine G., Australia
Dear Christine: Your letter contains several interesting clues. It is written carelessly, almost frivolously, with cute little exclamation marks, yet you are asking a very serious question. Also, you don't capitalize the word "I." What this carelessness tells me is that you are avoiding yourself and don't feel you have the right to a deep, serious existence. You treat life like it's a box of Kleenex.
Your loneliness at 55 has certain external causes that would apply to anyone who lives alone and isn't in a relationship. But in your case, these externals are secondary. I feel that you are paying the price for not developing an inner life. Believe me, if you were dancing and telling jokes at a glittering soiree, you would be just as lonely once you arrived home.
Many women still make an early bargain to attach themselves to a man. They hope, like Tom Cruise in the movie Jerry Maguire, that someone will complete them. This can happen for a while, but eventually we all realize that our lives belong to us, must be completed by us and cannot be rescued from the outside.
I urge you to take a new tack and reclaim the person you want to be. It's not too late. In fact, you will find plenty of 55-year-olds who need to start a new phase of their lives. Read books, talk to people who understand what an inner life is about and make contact with others who want what you want. Tomorrow doesn't have to be a repetition of today.