I had just ended my engagement.

Right after it happened, everything felt numb.

And then all at once life hit me. He had been a consistent part of my life for four years. Now, he was forever, and officially, going to be out of it.

What followed were months of mourning. It's strange, because breaking up felt a bit like he died, as well as the death of something else: my life. I'm not trying to be dramatic here, but at the time that's exactly how it felt.

But the strange part is, those months ended up being some of my best.

Not some of my best in the crazy-having-fun sense, but my best in that they were so full of life. I learned to deal with heartbreak in a way I never had to before.

This is the secret to why those breaking up months ended up being so good:

I learned happiness doesn't come from other people

We hear about this a lot, right? Like in this article.

Then we hear these contradicting ideals about love. These concepts teach us to wait for the right person to complete you. The problem is, if you're not a complete person on your own, you're not going to be completed just because the right somebody comes along.

Instead of being devastated about loosing a Disney princess hope of love, it should really be a comfort.

No one can directly control our happiness!

It's a simple idea, but harder to actually implement. Although it's something I will always be working on, these were some real-life ways that I started developing it.

1. Find real security

It's difficult, but real confidence can't come from how people view you. This terrible experience with my face happened right after the breakup and it really drove this home for me. If confidence comes from superficial sources, it's easily shaken. I followed the steps that I wrote about in that article to find where real security comes from.

2. Realize people are having a hard time

Breaking up is a lonely business. You lost your best friend. I was pretty focused on that loneliness until one day I said hello in passing to a girl I hardly knew.

She started crying.

I didn't know all that she was going through, but I realized (finally) there were people having a much harder time, who were far lonelier than I was.

I could wait around on a weekend to be invited to do something. I could mope when no one ever called. Or I could remember all those people who were sadder and lonelier than me and invite them to do something.

3. Tap into hope

My hope comes from my faith, and my belief that God has a plan for my life and it will be all right.

But what if you don't believe in God? Or don't know if he cares about what is happening in your life? Breaking up is actually a hugely hopeful time in general.

You get to start new!

You can develop more compassion.

You can focus on others.

You can meet new friends, pursue new hobbies and reevaluate what you want to contribute to this world.

Have hope in the positive growth that you can pursue when you go through change. Have hope in your ability to become a better person.

4. Don't spread negativity

Talking badly about your ex - even if there is a lot that can be said about him or her - harms you. It's a time in your life when you need as much positivity as possible. I'm not saying you should ignore the mourning process. It's an important part of healing. I am saying those emotions can be handled in a non-toxic way. I wrote a letter to my ex that I didn't send, because it helped me get those feelings out of me, without saying things I would later regret.

If you want to learn to be happy independently you can't blame others for your unhappiness. Often in ex-bashing that is exactly what's happening.

5. Be grateful

After my engagement ended, I avidly kept a journal. It really helped to write out how I was feeling.

Sometimes it included anger, sadness, confusion or loneliness, but I made sure on a daily basis I was writing down one thing that I was grateful for that day. The smallest, sweetest acts were recorded. Those little things I noticed would have been so easy to overlook, but noticing them made a big difference in my general happiness.

6. Steal characteristics

Regardless of who ended the relationship or how it ended, there was at some point, some reason you dated this person. Whether it's characteristics, habits or healthy aspects of the relationship, there is something you can take from being with that person. Those are valuable things you can add to your life.

If there was nothing good about a relationship, you can know what negative qualities you do not want to develop. Don't treat past relationships as a waste of time. There is always something beneficial you can get from it.

It's been a while now since that awful engagement-ending day. Since then I've practiced these things in other relationships and other breakups.

I wish I could say these were the magic tools to make the pain go away, but I can't. Breakups will always be hard. If you love the person, it's natural to miss them.

But you can learn to be grateful not just for the relationship but for the breakup as well. This time of life can become one of the best.

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