greet yourself with love
stop wanting and start being

how to be happy when your heart is breaking



Watchin' the time go, the second hand is movin' too fast
Whoever thought that it ever really would last
And if your conscience weighs a little heavy tonight
Maybe you'll find it, maybe you'll find...
Nobody told you that nothing plays out like it seems
Twenty years now, runnin' scared of all your dreams
Is it everything you thought it would be?

When you come back, I'll be alright
On your own again, back where it all began
The phone don't ring, and the tears they fall
But you carry on and on and on and on

Past is past; you never really gave it a shot
To survive with your one last shot in the dark
And if your conscience weighs a little heavy tonight
Maybe you'll find...
Empty boxes on the stairs
Remind you that there's no one there
Is it everything you thought it would be?
You'll see...

When you come back, I'll be alright
On your own again, back where it all began
The phone don't ring, and the tears they fall
But you carry on and on and on and on 

You gotta go, you never know
just how it'll all turn out
Forget what's done, the western sun
leaves no doubt

When you come back, I'll be alright
On your own again, back where it all began
The phone don't ring, and the tears they fall
But you carry on and on and on and on

"On Your Own"
Green River Ordinance

Though I'm not suffering from a broken heart right now, I've been there. Man, have I been there. Many, many times. More times than I'd like to admit I've been broken hearted by breaking someone else's heart. It always seems as if it'd be better to be the one ending things, but it's not. It still hurts. Like hell. But you didn't come by to hear all about the heartaches of Dani, did you? Nope, you came by some for a Dani-sized dash of positivity and that's what I'm gonna give you. What's spurred me to write about heartache when my own heart's not aching? Lately I've been receiving a lot of questions about how to be happy even when your heart is breaking from my readers, and, though I must admit that in the past I haven't been the best at dealing with my personal pain, I think I have a new outlook on how one might deal with a broken heart and I want to share my advice with you (and store it for myself for later should I ever be faced with a broken heart myself!).

So, those of you suffering from a broken heart (or anyone who has suffered from one) knows that it's probably one of the worst feelings in the world. When you're down in the depths of heartache it feels like nothing in the world will bring you out of your pain. It feels like nothing you do, nothing anyone else says, can make you feel better. I know that feel. It flat out sucks. I'm not going pretend I have a cure all for getting rid of that terrible feeling in the pit of your stomach. I'm not going to sit here and claim I have a solution that will make all of your sadness go away. But here's the deal. You have a choice. You can either continue to be miserable (which, let's face it, isn't exactly bringing him or her back to you, is it?) or you can pull yourself together and move on. So what's it gonna be? It's totally up to you. Believe me, I know first hand that you can wallow in that self-pity for as long as you please. Days, weeks, months can go by before you even realize that you're wasting your life away, completely consumed by your sadness. Is that what you really want? To be sad? To be feeling sorry for yourself? I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure most of us want to be happy. It's not at all easy to be happy when it feels like your heart has been splintered into a million little pieces, but it's up to you. Cheesy as it might sound, you can be anything you want to be. You want to be sad? Be sad. But if you want to be happy, read on...


How To Be Happy When Your Heart Feels Like Someone Smashed It With A Hammer

Accept the fact that you feel terrible, alone, and worthless. Yes, you feel like your heart and mind have been beaten. You feel defeated. You feel alone. You feel, for brief moments, like just throwing in the towel and giving up. It's okay to feel bad. You're supposed to. It's normal. One of the most important things I've learned in my path to positivity is that you can't just brush the bad emotions aside. Sure, it would be fabulous if we could be oh-so-happy all the time, but that's not life. Life sucks sometimes. Really sucks. We get mad, we get sad, we get hurt. That's just how it is. I used to try to avoid any of the bad feelings. I used to just drink or distract myself with other unhealthy pastimes, but that only caused the feelings to hide out in the back of my mind, building up on one another until they became this big, horrible mess of sadness and anger. It was not good. You don't want that to happen to you so deal with your pain and sadness. You're experiencing a loss and that hurts. It's okay for it to hurt. Sit with your sadness for a bit and allow yourself to feel how you feel.


Drag yourself out of that puddle of self pity. Okay, it's one thing to let yourself experience your emotions, but enough with the cartons of ice cream, the bags of chips, and the endless reruns of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Pull yourself together. It is, no matter what you feel like, completely unacceptable to sit around in your PJs for days, doing nothing but crying and watching Lifetime movies. It might sound harsh, but you have to get a grip. It feels awful, yes, but life goes on. It has to. You won't spend the rest of your life wallowing (even though right now it feels like you might) so you might as well get a jump start on your new, exciting, single life right now. Get up. Get dressed. Get going. Do something -- anything -- other than sitting around feeling sorry for yourself. Sadness in small doses is fine. Sadness is large quantities is just selfish. Get out there and do something productive, happy, and fun. Think about it like this: This is your life. Right now. What if today were your last day? Would you want to spend in wallowing in sadness? I think not!


Gather up your best friends and do something fabulous. Whenever you're going through a rough time, one of the best things you can do is surround yourself with the people who love you (and, yes, this is different from the people youlove). Surround yourself with positive, happy, loving people and you'll instantly start to feel better. Think about something you really love to do (maybe something that your ex didn't ever want to do) and do it. Take your friends and get going on a fabulous adventure, even if that adventure is just a night of dining out. (Remember: Anything can be an adventure if you make it into one!) The key to going out and doing something fun with friends is not to think about and dwell on your sadness. Yes, you might want to bring it up, but don't. You probably discussed it plenty when it first happened, so leave it behind for your fabulous adventure of fun. Your wonderful friends are making an effort to spend time with you -- they love you! -- so don't bring everyone down by being a huge downer. Distract yourself. Ask them about their lives (and don't you dare make a face when they bring up their wonderful significant others!). Engage people (maybe even strangers!) in a random conversation about an interesting topic. Don't go out and sit in a corner and mope. Go out and have fun!


Remember who you are and embrace that person. You are you. No matter how close you were with your ex, you are not a product of the relationship you were in. You were you before you met that person and you are still you now. And, you know what? You're pretty awesome. No one else can be you. No one will ever be. And that's pretty cool, right? So let's think about you. What are you? Who are you? What do you like to do? What are your favorite songs? Favorite activities? Favorite movies? Think about these things (write them down if you want) and remember that no one -- no matter how bad they might make you feel in a moment of heartache -- can take you away from you. No matter what happens in life, you always have yourself so you better work on loving that person and celebrating how awesome he or she is. If you really love yourself, really believe that you are great, no one can take that away from you. People will hurt you, yes, but that's okay. It's okay to be hurt and to feel shitty, but it's not okay to let those feelings take away from your self worth. You are an awesome person -- we all are -- and you deserve to be happy. Since you can't be happy with someone else right now, you better be happy with yourself. Take this heartache and see it as a reminder to celebrate all of the great things about you -- the you that is just you, not the you that is half of a pair.


Learn from the heartbreak and let it go. Every heartbreak hurts. It really does. Even when you go out with your friends and tell yourself you're great and do all of the things you loved to do before you met that other person, you're probably going to still feel pretty bad at times. Let yourself feel bad (but not for too long!) and think about how you can learn from the pain you're feeling. I really do believe that there's a lesson in everything and every painful experience I've gone through has proved that to me. Even when I've felt like giving up, like just screaming until my lungs collapsed, I was learning. Even though it didn't feel like it at the time, I was becoming stronger and better and learning more about myself and the world. I've always had a hard time letting the pain and sadness go. As I've mentioned to you before, I identified myself with being the downer, with being sad and sarcastic. It's hard for me to look at my pain from a distance and say, "Oh, you again. Go away!" I'm much more tempted to say, "Oh, hello old friend! Please come in!" But it does no good to hang on to pain and sadness. It's okay to experience it, to learn from it, but it doesn't do anyone (especially you!) any good to hang on to it. It's not a raft. It's an anchor. And it will drag you straight to the bottom of the ocean of self pity if you cling to it. My advice? Accept it. Learn from it. Let it go.


And that's pretty much what I'd say to sum up this post: Accept it. Learn from it. Let it go. It doesn't work to pretend it's not happening and it doesn't really help you in the long run if you don't try to learn from it and it certainly doesn't do any good to cling to your heartache like a drowning, desperate crazy person. Not only are sadness, desperation, and anger unattractive qualities (should you ever feel like dating again), but they are pretty damaging to any attempts you're making to live a positive life. As I said before, I'm pretty sure we all want to be happy. It's a pretty basic, human desire. And, as you know, I do believe that happiness is a choice. When you're battling a broken heart, choosing happiness is far from easy, but it is still possible. Remember that it's up to you. No one else is going to make you feel better. No one else is going to truly be able to pull yourself out of your sadness. It's up to you. Choose to accept it, learn from it, and let it go. Choose to be happy.

If this post didn't do it for you, you might enjoy checking out some of these articles:

Healing a Broken Heart
Broken Heart's Guide
How to Mend a Broken Heart
Heal My Broken Heart 
Healing Your Heartbreak

[Note: You might not be suffering from heartache right now, but do you hate your job? If you do, I have just the thing for you! I wrote a guest post for The Journal of Cultural Conversation called "Hate Your Job, But Still Love Your Life: How To Be Happy No Matter Where You Work." Check it out!]


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I truly know what a broken heart feels like, as I have been divorced in my past. All I can say is that acceptance of the situation, acceptance of feelings, and surrender is the best thing one can do. When you resist, it persists...and it hurts. Grieve. Thanks for such an amazing post Dani! Good job!

Dayne - You're welcome! I agree that it's so important to sit with the feelings, to grieve your loss, and then to move forward. Though I'm all about being happy, I don't think you can just cover over your emotions and pretend it's fine. You have to deal with it before you can move on with your life.

i think the most important thing is to give yourself time. Time to heal, time to grieve, time to feel everything you need to feel, both good and bad. Breaking up is a loss, not at all unlike losing a loved one. You have to ride the entire emotional roller-coaster; there's no shortcuts.

I think if you try to force the healing, or try to make yourself happy before you're really ready, then you increase the damage and prolong the suffering.

These are all great tips, Dani. But they should be used sparingly, and only to "jumpstart" or "restart" the healing process if one gets caught up in a particularly bad wave of emotion. You have to allow yourself time to feel the bad...there's no magic pill to make it all better. It just takes time. Time, and a whole lot of forgiveness. Forgiveness for yourself, and forgiveness for your new ex.

Thank you for this post! Over the last few days I've been in the 'let it go' process, which isn't very easy for me. But, I feel like it's in the past now, and there isn't anything more to take from it. Now I'm just excited for the present and the future, afterall, with every failed relationship comes the opportunity for a better one! :)

Well written, Dani. Ending a significant relationship is much like experiencing a death, so the stages of grief really highlight some of the things one should expect to go through, and probably repeat:

Denial (this isn't happening to me!)

Anger (why is this happening to me?)

Bargaining (I promise I'll be a better person if...)

Depression (I don't care anymore)

Acceptance (I'm ready for whatever comes)


Numbness (mechanical functioning and social insulation)

Disorganization (intensely painful feelings of loss)

Reorganization (re-entry into a more 'normal' social life.)

And, as others have said and as that damned old cliche goes, give it time. It doesn't HEAL all wounds, but it allows you to tend to them properly to minimize scarring.


This is a great list and a great post, Dani.

As far as wallowing and eating ice cream and watching re-runs of Grey's Anatomy? (Because that would be my choice - ha)

I'm all for it.
Just put a time frame on it.
If that's what you need to do for a day? Do it. For one day.

Also, tell your friends (especially your best friend) what's going on and ask for them to help you keep on track. If they see you drifting into sadness, let them remind you that it's time to be moving forward. ;-)

All the best!

Wonderfully said - as always. As my old friend, Millie, said on my blog, life isn't always butterflies and flowers, there's a lot of poop in it. That's why God invented toilet paper - wipe it off, pull up your pants and move on.

Jay - You make a great point about time. Cliche as it sounds, nothing heals a broken heart quite like time does. However, there has to be a point when you stop feeling bad and start feeling good again and sometimes you have to force yourself to move forward (at least I know I have). You also brought up forgiveness which is a great thing to focus on. It's so important to forgive yourself and the other person as you're learning to let go of the heartache and the old relationship.

Ia - You're welcome! I thought you might enjoy it. :) It's not easy to let go, but it's important and the end of a relationship only means a chance to learn and to move forward into a situation that is even better for you.

Veronica - Great comment! As you noted, the loss of a relationship is like a death in many ways and people do go through the emotions of grief which you've outlined so well here. Thanks for posting them. As you said, it really does take time to heal wounds, which can be very frustrating at times, but it's important that we realize that at some point we will feel better.

Deb - Thanks! I agree that wallowing for a short period of time is perfectly fine but then, as you said, it's time to grab a great friend and get out into the world. That's a great point about asking a friend to keep you on track. It always helps to be accountable to someone else.

Suzen - Haha, love the comment! Your friend is so right. Life isn't always butterflies and flowers (and, really, it would be quite boring if it was!). We all have bad times and we have to pick ourselves up, clean ourselves up, and do what we can to move forward.

Thanks Dani. Losing love is like grieving. And time does eventually heal.

What a wonderful post. Thank you so much. I choose happiness.

Hi Dani .. one thing a lot of us forget .. is ask for help .. turn to others for comfort, or just a talk .. - we forget our loved ones, friends, people in the moment at that time .. will all help - people like to help - we seem to be good at giving help, but not very good at asking .. we need to be happy and need happy people to share with once we've got the help out of the way ..

It's great you can relate to us all .. all the best
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Hi Dani - what a wonderful post that we all can relate to at some time or another in our lives. I will refer back to this often, I am sure!

And thank you again for the wonderful post on TJCC - I've had so many people email me directly to say how great it was! Thank you and so glad to have you and your great writing as part of the team!

- Laura

Syd - You're right. It's a loss that has to be grieved, but it will eventually heal with time.

Kelli - Yay for choosing happiness! :) I'm so glad you liked the post.

Hilary - Great point. Talking to others and asking for help when you're dealing with heartbreak is so important. It's a lot easier to offer help than it is to ask for it, so it's important to look out for those around us who might be suffering and reach out to them.

Laura - Thank you! :) Though I'm not dealing with heartache right now, I know I'll look back at this post at some point and gain strength from it. You're welcome for the TJCC post! It was a joy to do and I'm glad that people are responding positively to it.

Dani, I'm not heartbroken nor have I been in so long I can't remember it. But what you say applies pretty much to any negative dramatic emotional event such as a death of a loved one. The advice about accepting your feelings and not repressing them is absolutely spot on. Then once you get it out of your system, then get up and move on. Thanks!

It seems like the combo of "time heals all wounds" and "this too shall pass" work well together.

What I've always seen is losses always leave holes. The antipattern I've seen, is when people crawl in the hole and stay here. The success pattern I've seen is when people move on and continue to grow, and periodically visit the holes ... not with pain, sorrow or whatever, but appreciation and acceptance.

This is such a wonderful post - thank you so much! Even though I'm not going through a break-up right now, I'm definitely going to bookmark this and save it for when I really need it (or send to a friend). Great job addressing this emotional topic in such a warm, thorough way, Dani!

Yes, time heals, as hard as it can be to go through things. And some things you just have to go through, like grief, for what is a broken heart but grief to pass through. Into the sunshine eventually.

There are so many things we cannot know on this sphere but must have faith that there are always better days ahead.

Heya Dani! :)

Lyrics from Robin S - Show me love , I really love that song!

"Ahhh... Yeah yeah
You’ve got to show me love

Heartbreaks and promises, I’ve had more than my share
I’m tired of giving my love and getting nowhere, nowhere
What I need is somebody who really cares "

Just like you I've been there lots of times, and it sux. I just try to be thankful for the good times I've had with that person and not the bad aspect that it's over. The last time I was heartbroken was about 3 months ago, probably the most gorgeous girl I'd ever been with, and because I held her up high in my head, it probably hurt more.

I don't think you can really learn from a breakup, because what one person dislikes may be what the next person likes.
You give some good ways to get over it, another would be just to watch your favourite series like 'Friends' and eat lots of icecream and chocolate and comfort food.

Another way to get over someone is to be with someone else, or a few others, by that time you won't really remember why that person who broke your heart was so special:)

Thanks for sharing!
Have an awesome day!


This is an interesting post on a very challenging emotional situation. Your tips are great! Putting them into practice can be tougher, especially if the ego-mind is determined to stop our pain (because egos just hate feeling pain, don't they?!). I used to call myself the worst breaker-upper in history, because I'd know someone was wrong for me, break up with them, and then my ego would say, "You're so lonely... call them." Next thing I knew I was right back where I started.

The friends tip you listed is so important (and family, if supportive, works just as well). My friends have always been my saviors during tough times, holding me up, hugging me when needed, and encouraging me that better times were just around the corner.

Blessing to anyone who's heart is hurting right now...

Where was this post back in 2002 when I needed it? ;-) Seriously - awesome post for anyone who's going through a terrible heart break. I've been there...twice. When my first boyfriend broke up with me over the phone back in early 1981 - I was watching Blue Hawaii and babysitting my neighbors kids. Elvis movies have never been the same for me...(even though I'm now married to the man who broke my heart when I was 17)

Divorce was much more of a heart break - I felt as if my heart had been ripped out and that I had been left on the street bleeding to death. I really thought dying had to easier (not suicidal...just that the pain is momentary compared to losing the life you once knew) If it wasn't for my job and my then teenage daughters, I would have been the woman dressed in PJ's and watching Lifetime movies. The job required me to travel 25% of the time...I'd fly to Chicago or NYC for the day, be in high octane meetings, fly home and WALLOW.

Roughly 6 months after the darkest time of my life, the clouds lifted - and the sky was blue again. And I can't even tell you how that just did.

Stephen - I'm glad to hear that you haven't been heartbroken in a long time. :) That's great! You're so right. This can apply to lots of hard, painful situations (not just heartbreak). It's so important to deal with feelings and not run from them (as I used to do). It's tempting to avoid sometimes, but it never works out in the long run.

J.D. - Yes, that's a great combo of true sayings. I love what you wrote about how losses leave holes and people crawl into those holes and stay there. What a poetic image (albeit a very sad poetic image)! I agree that people need to get out of the hole, learn from their heartache, and move on. It's okay to go back occasionally but staying in the hole is where the real problem lies.

Jenny - You're welcome! I don't personally need it right now, but I know some people who might and I wrote it for them. I know someday this post will come in handy. I'm so glad you thought I did a good job addressing the topic. It's not necessarily an easy one (mostly because so much of the advice sounds cliche), but I just felt like I had to tackle it.

Jannie - Yes, it really is about time. It takes time to heal a broken heart and there's really no way around that. I love how you ended your comment on a positive note. We never know what's in store for us so we really have to keep believing that better things are on the horizon.

Diggy - Great song! I love that one, but haven't heard it in so long! I have to disagree with what you said about learning from a breakup. I think you can learn from EVERYTHING, even though it's not always apparent right away. I've learned from every breakup I've been through and each one has made me stronger and stronger and more aware of what I want and who I am. I know what you're saying about being with someone else -- I've tried that many times -- but it doesn't always work out as well as you'd like it to. I suppose this depends on the person and the situation, but I'd be careful with that because sometimes it can leave you feeling worse since, really, you can't replace the person you lost with someone else all that easily.

Megan - Oh, yes, this is all so much easier written than done. I don't ever think I've been able to do these things very well, but I'm hoping that in the future, should I need to, I will be better prepared to deal with a heartbreak with this post in hand. Like you, I followed the same pattern when it came to breakups. Break up, go back (for a variety of different reasons), break up again. Vicious, vicious cycle that's pretty darn painful for everyone involved. One of the best things to do to avoid this is to spend time with friends. It's one of the most important things you can do when you're hurting and it's the best, most productive form of distraction (much better than drinking/drugs/overeating/sex/etc.).

Peggy - Ahh, I could be asking myself the same question! Where was all of my wisdom back when I was sobbing and heartbroken and completely miserable?! Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with heartache in your comment. I think the last part of what you wrote is so true for most people. We have some really painful, awful moments but eventually the clouds lift somehow and things start getting better. The key is to remember that this is going to happen while you're completely immersed in your sorrow!

Yep, I'm very familiar with the infliction of Broken Heartitis. In my opinion, when you're on the receiving end of someone you love saying they don't love you anymore, it's worse than being told they've died. It's worse because you still have to deal with the loss as well as the rejection and hurt. It's not fun.

I used family and friends to help me get out of bed each day, anger to help me get back into the world and the creation of a more meaningful life to make sense of it all.

I always found it really helpful (ok, semi helpful) to tell myself that time WOULD heal this wound.


Gosh I've been there too, several times! The first time I had to claw my way out of the hole... eventually it got easier and I guess the sheer practice has helped. It's still not perfectly easy, but now I know that I will survive just fine, so it's much easier to start being happy even in the initial phase of a break up.

Doing fabulous things with fabulous friends is under-rated during a break up phase. Personally I find that running everyday and drinking lots of water is the best way to start healing.

Hi Dani
Everyone of us have been there...heartbroken. This is a great post, it is a topic that don't get talk about a lot.
There is a time to be sad and but at some point we have to pick ourselves up and keep moving on.
Thanks for sharing.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Sami - That absolutely sounds like the worst thing in the world. I've never had that happen exactly but I do know that being heartbroken is a terrible feeling. I love how you mentioned friends and family. They really are key in any situation in which you are hurting.

Hayden - Time heals almost everything. It sucks sometimes having to wait for that time to pass, but pain usually does subside with time.

Daphne - You're right about practice. It does get easier every time we (unfortunately) have to deal with heartache. I don't think it's ever actually easy, but it does get easier. I agree that spending time with your friends and taking care of your body are two of the most important things you can do for yourself.

Giovanna - Yes, most people have been there and it's terribly painful at times, but the best thing to do is pick yourself up and move on. It's hard, but it's so much better to take control and make the most of a bad situation.

Hi Dani,

I recently been through a very difficult divorce. I had thoughts of killing myself to make him pay. I want him to stay guilty for the rest of his life. I was sucidal. I planned my suicide plan. I was depressed.I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I'm extremely negative. I do not think anybody would ever love me again. I'm worthless, I'm crap. The world will still be the same without me. I didn't think anybody would miss me.

Luckily, I have friends, family and even my co-workers who actually love me very much. They counsel me, they brought me out, they cheer me up, they gave me lots of encouragement. They are very patient and sensitive towards me. I am still alive today all because of them. I have now learnt to accept the facts & learn from my mistakes. Yes, time does heal. However, there will always be a scar...

Jesse - I'm so sorry to hear about your difficult divorce and the depression you suffered from it as a result. I'm very happy to know that you have people who can support you and love you. I absolutely agree that time does heal, but not without leaving a scar. It's our scars that shape us into the people we are.

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