In today’s culture, everyone wants to be happy after their breakup. The sooner, the better! That’s also one of the reasons why heartbroken people start luxuriating in wild parties, crazed workouts, kings-sized feasts, weeks-long video-game binges, etc. They try to force themselves to be happy, but happiness doesn’t work that way.
Firstly, happiness is not something you catch or obtain; it’s a state you embody or inhabit – one where you don’t feel the need for any disruption. Also, to steal from the Buddhists, happiness is not based on arbitrary outside influences but rather internal experiences.
Secondly, happiness is not the same as positivity. The worst thing you can do after your breakup is to pump yourself up and put a fake grin on your face. Suppressing and denying negative emotions only leads to prolonged breakup recovery and, ultimately, to emotional dysfunction.
Lastly, happiness is not the same as pleasure. Pleasure is only correlated with happiness, but it does not produce it. Sure, more sex, more Youtube, more food, more fast cars, more shit you probably don’t need, feels good, but these things will not make you happy. In fact, they tend to make you feel worse in the long run. This happens because whatever gives you pleasure is often meaningless, trivial, or used as a distraction from your breakup-pain.
In actuality, happiness needs sacrifices. And despite what self-help gurus like Tony Robbins tell you, figuring out how to actually be happy is not always easy either. Hell, sometimes it’s a pain in the ass. So let’s figure out how you can actually become happy after your breakup.
1. Accept your breakup
There’s a saying in the western world that gets thrown around a lot: shit happens. It’s one of those silly remarks that feels really deep and profound on the surface but actually isn’t deep nor profound. Yet, the remark still holds acute accuracy.
In life, we fail at stuff. We lose our jobs, we lose our relationships, we lose ourselves, i.e., shit happens. But you know what? That’s fine. It truly is. Life is complicated, so it’s normal to fail at it sometimes, err… most of the time.
Life will never conform to our desires not will it mold itself so that we can avoid dealing with what we fear the most. It will just unfold itself without taking any interest whatsoever in our wishes, hopes, or aspirations.
Ironically, it’s the acceptance of this natural truth that will allow us to become more appreciative, content, and ultimately happier. The same can be said for accepting our imperfections.
2. Accept your imperfections
You and me, we’re not perfect. And we’ll never be perfect. Because perfection is a mirage – a fairy-tale we made up.
You’ll never rid your mind of all emotional issues, flaws, and insecurities, and neither will I. And if by some divine miracle that does happen, sooner or later, new emotional issues, flaws, and insecurities will sprout up, and we’ll be condemned to start our brain-scrubbing process all over again.
So what can you do? Simple. Stop trying to perfect yourself all the damn time.
Don’t get me wrong, chase progress, but don’t get caught up in the assumption that there’s some mountain top you’re going to reach one day where you’ll rid your mind of any bad qualities and habits. There is no such peak. It’s just a one-way ride to becoming miserable, masked as personal growth.
3. Take responsibility for your breakup
The worst thing you can do for your happiness is not take responsibility for your breakup. You may not be responsible for the downfall of your relationship, but you’re always responsible for how you respond to that downfall.
Meaning you can play the victim and bitch and moan about your shitty life, or you can start asking yourself, “what can I learn from this,” “What can I do about this,” and “How can I bounce back?”
Remember: you can’t change what has happened, but you always have full control over how you’re going to respond to what has happened.
4. Stop blaming your ex
Another idea that ties in with responsibility is blame. Stop fucking blaming your ex. That’s just a way for you to take less responsibility for your life and play the victim.
Besides, most people who blame their exes for their breakups are usually just avoiding the truth of why their relationship didn’t work out. I mean, think about it.
Was your ex a really narcissistic asshole, or do you feel it’s just unfair that they left you? Was your ex really a codependent person, or were you just trying to avoid intimacy? Was your ex really incompatible with you, or are you just dodging the fact that you were so needy that no one wanted to have a relationship with you?
You can blame your ex all you want, but by doing so, even if it feels nice, you’re just going to end up miserable. Hell, you’re probably going to turn into the special snowflake who vomits perennial laments on how “life’s not fair.”
You don’t want to be a whiny special snowflake, right?
So again, stop blaming others for your breakup. What has happened has happened. Now it’s your responsibility to recovery from this mess both spiritually and emotionally. So get recovering.
5. Practice gratefulness
Take a deep breath – in through your nose and out through your mouth. Relax your face muscles, let your eyelids hang halfway, and let go of any inner tension you may feel. Think about nothing, and judge nothing.
When you reach the end of this sentence, stop reading, put down your phone, turn off your computer, and get grateful for something – anything – be that the chair you’re sitting on, the people you have in your life, or the experiences you had.
How was it? Probably not easy. That’s ok. It’s never smooth the first time, but you get better with practice.
Many people squirm when they hear about becoming grateful for something, primarily because they associate the activity with the hokey pokey new age folk. But surprisingly, this association is dead wrong.
There are many studies from ingenious non-spiritual folk about the benefits of being grateful. It helps you have better relationships, improved health, higher self-esteem, stronger psychological resilience, and of course, it generates happiness. Therefore, the more you practice gratefulness, the happier you’re going to be overall. (1)
6. Practice mindfulness
Similar to gratefulness, mindfulness is also proven to promote happiness. However, it doesn’t stop there. It also reduces anxiety, reactivity, and stress and fosters compassion, empathy, positive emotions, and emotional self-control. So practicing mindfulness is certainly useful. (2)(3)
Think of mindfulness as becoming aware of your current internal world (thoughts, feelings, senses) and the external world right in front of you (what’s happening right this moment). The aim when being mindful is to stay aware of these two worlds.
One way of doing this is to sit down somewhere you won’t be disturbed, close your eyes, and pay attention to your body and mind.
To make one thing clear; mindfulness is not about stopping the thoughts and feelings we don’t like or hate. It’s about allowing them to be there without trying to judge, change or avoid them. This attitude lets you build a friendly, curious relationship with the things going on inside of your body and mind, even if they’re awful.
Remember, everything is welcome. Don’t pretend to feel good when there is a nagging voice telling you that you’re not. That’s the voice you need to get in touch with. So instead of stifling it or distracting yourself, welcome it.
7. Strive toward your ideal self
Want to remodel your apartment? Go for it. Want to start that side business? Go for it. Want to travel the world? Hell, go for it. Now is your time.
Here’s the funny thing about these endeavors. They are all unpleasant and often involve risk. Your remodeled apartment may turn out ugly. Your new startup may fail. Your luggage may get stolen while you’re in a third world country.
Therefore, there’s a good chance that you end up wasting a shit ton of money and time on these endeavors. Yet, despite their potential downsides, some of them will be the most meaningful endeavors of your life.
Yes, they will involve risk, pain, anger, fear, even wasted money and time, but once you’ve done them and look back, you’ll be grateful and happy that you took the plunge – you’ll be grateful and happy that it all happened.
Because through these sorts of endeavors we have an opportunity to step into our ideal self. And this perpetual and often painful pursuit of becoming our ideal self, grants us true happiness – the kind that stay’s intact regardless of external factors, and circumstances.
It’s not our end results that define our ideal selves and make us happy. It’s the process of achieving challenging and meaningful long-term goals that define our ideal selves and make us happy despite all odds.
So, how can you move forward – how can you start striving toward your ideal self today?
Decide what you want to achieve – what are the things that you’re willing to suffer for – and then just start working on whatever that is despite your breakup pain, despite your loneliness, and despite your hopelessness.
If you want to remodel your apartment, start by designing a plan. If you want to launch a business, start by talking to the market and observing what you can help them with. If you want to travel the world, start by traveling to your neighboring country.
Don’t think too much. Just start somewhere – just do something.
The sheer fact that you’re moving in some direction – any direction – towards your ideal self will by itself spark happiness in you. And this goes for whether you achieve your dreams and goals or not. The fact that you’ve tried and went all the way on some dream is often all you need to be happy.
You will get happy in time
It’s astonishing how little a breakup actually influences your happiness in the long term. Sure, you may feel like shit right now, but you won’t feel that way forever. You’re far more resilient than you think.
Dan Gilbert, the brilliant scientist and author of Stumbling On Happiness, proved that when shitty things happen to people, they weep and whine for a while, and then they pick themselves up and get on with their lives.
Take Pete Best, for example, the original drummer for the Beatles. That is, until they “fired him” for not being like them and brought in Ringo Star to take their place. Naturally, Pete was devastated after his band’s betrayal. I mean, it was 1962, a year before the Beatles got big. However, years later, he said this: “I’m happier than I would have been with the Beatles.” (4)
You’ll experience the same narrative. For the next few weeks, months, years, or however long it may take, you’re going to feel like the all-enchanting glow of your once fruitful life fell into oblivion. But after some time, you’ll realize that your life never lost its glow – that this is not the end – and when that moment comes, you’ll be happy again.
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