After more than half a year of struggling with emotions that loomed over my head and heart like a dark cloud weighing me down, I met up with a friend for brunch. She told me how I looked so positive and hopeful. She was there in the beginning, at the start of me spiraling down to hopelessness, grief, anger and bouts of crying. She then asked me, “You look happy. Are you really? Or is it superficial happiness?” Without missing a beat, I said, “I am happy,” and I knew it to be true. I was surprised, but I was sure that it was coming from a place of sincerity and certainty. So I took a pause to think about how this was possible.
I can still remember the loss, the devastation, the not knowing where I go from here, and how I didn’t want to continue onto tomorrow. The thing is, I remember it, but I no longer feel the same. My heart healed as time went on and I’ve found peace in the acceptance of the reasons and chapters in our lives. When I reflect on how I got to the state of mind I am in now — happy and at peace — five things come into mind:
1. Feel your emotions.
Let your heart grieve as much as it wants. I didn’t stop myself from feeling the emotions I was entitled to. I listened to all the sad songs and watched all the sad movies, finding solace in knowing that the pain I was feeling wasn’t exclusive to me. Nature also helps in the letting go process. Instead of locking yourself in the four walls of your bedroom, go out for a walk. Immerse yourself in the vastness of the forest or the ocean. Take a deep breath, let go of all rational thinking, and feel and express yourself wholeheartedly. If you’re hurt, if you’re frustrated, or if you’re anxious, acknowledge those emotions and write them down — it’s the only way you’ll be set free. Then keep walking.
2. Actively choose to love yourself.
Take yourself out from the rut that you are residing in. This isn’t an easy task, but one you must choose when you are ready and feel that you could. I actively chose it every single day. When you choose to love yourself, in turn, you choose the best for yourself; you start blooming again, and you start to participate in life. Choosing yourself isn’t constantly an easy decision; I know it is much easier to go down the rabbit hole. Our existences go back and forth between good and bad days, and that’s okay. The moment you recognize you are ready and choose yourself and happiness, you’re on the right track. Practice self-love, be a doer, pursue your dreams, and nurture your passions.
3. Adopt a positive and grateful attitude towards life.
Start writing down three things that you are most grateful for or the highlights of your day. This shifts your mind from focusing on all the things you lost and into recognizing, appreciating and thanking what it is that you are lucky and blessed enough to have, like friends that support and have your back, the opportunity to travel with loved ones, your cozy bed at the end of a very long and tiring day, being able to cook and make wholesome food, your freedom in your country, good health for you and the people you love. This shift in perspective is everything.
4. Smile more and laugh simply.
This simple act can make you feel like the best version of yourself. I let myself be taken away by the dad jokes, by teasing from my friends, by the cheesy rom coms, and by life. I didn’t let my fear, pain, nor my longing overcome the happiness I deserved. Let yourself be silly, easy going and carefree.
5. Surround yourself with your people.
Stay present in the love that is around you. I found peace in my solitude that was filled with love for myself and for others. The loss of one love isn’t the end of all other loves. So, you lost love, but darling, it’s always there; love is valuable, but it is always around you. The one you lost will come again in a different form and in a different way. Till that day comes, choose happiness, and then peace will naturally follow.