Finding Happiness In A Relationship Isn't Like Personal Happiness

It has taken me 29 years to realize my happiness is not contingent upon whether I am loved by someone. My happiness is only contingent upon whether or not I decide to be happy.

I am a lover — a lover of people, ideas, experiences and that warm, tingly feeling you get when your lips meet someone else's. I have always been a lover, and I will always remain a lover.

However, that constant search to love someone led to my own dissatisfaction in life and a somewhat downhill spiral of emotional distress. It wasn't until I stepped out of my comfort zone and really searched for what made me happy that I realized following your heart may sound like good advice, but it depends on where you let your heart lead you.

Following your heart may sound like good advice, but it depends on where you let your heart lead you.

My heart was leading me toward an individual, not my own bliss. Therefore, I was not truly happy.

I started to really evaluate what it was I wanted, and then, I started to seek out HOW to make these things happen.

Here are five ways I started to find my bliss:

1. I went to the gym.

Really, it's that simple. At the time, my boyfriend had just broken up with me, leaving me completely devastated and lonely.

I also started working as a manager for a thriving and popular restaurant in NYC. My hours were long and stressful, and the added heartache made life seem unrelentingly difficult.

I began taking Anti-Gravity Yoga classes at my gym. I began to go religiously.

This was partly because I wanted to become so fit and hot my ex would regret the day he walked away from me, but mostly because my anxiety of being alone in my apartment when I wasn't working would sometimes cause panic attacks on the floor of the bathroom.

I found comfort in simply being around people, even if they were strangers. As a result, I found a stress release and also a sense of peace.

(And I look fit and hot, thank you very much).

2. I made myself be alone (sometimes).

I started having really bad anxiety attacks. I would literally be in my apartment alone and have to run outside to catch my breath.

I started to notice this pattern, and I began to make myself be alone... little by little, though. Whether it be alone cleaning the apartment or simply alone reading a book, I made myself find comfort in my loneliness instead of panic.

I made myself find comfort in my loneliness instead of panic.

It was overwhelming at times, to be alone with my thoughts and to actually have to address all the emotions I was constantly avoiding. But it helped me learn to stand still for a moment.

Over time, I began to appreciate my alone time. I discovered I'm pretty good company when I want to be, and it allowed me to realize I need to be comfortable with myself before I expect anyone else to be.

3. I threw myself into my work.

One day I walked into work, puffy eyes, obviously from crying all night and day. One of my bosses cornered me in the bathroom demanding to know what was wrong.

I broke down. And then, I apologized for breaking down because I felt so silly crying over a man when there are so many other reasons to cry in life.

My boss' response was simple and beautiful. She said, "No, it's not silly. It's devastating, and you have every right to feel these emotions. But you are going to go out there and do your job, and you're going to do it well."

After that day, I threw myself feverishly into my work. Not because I needed a distraction, although it was a positive from all the long hours, rather because I knew that day I wanted to be the kind of woman my boss is.

I wanted to be the woman who cries, but pulls herself back together and not only gets shit done, but also does so gracefully.

I wanted to be the woman who cries, but pulls herself back together.

4. I went out and had fun.

I've always loved going out with my friends, but somehow, I slowly lost my sense of individuality once I was in a serious relationship. I still went out, but I needed to be out with him.

Once I started going out with just my girl friends, I realized just how much I missed them. I remembered how entertaining it was to be out and not worrying about my SO, or whether or not I could flirt with the babe at the bar without feeling guilty.

If I took too many tequila shots and ended up making out with a stranger, eh... c'est la vie. I'm having fun.

5. I stopped punishing myself.

It's easy to get caught up in what you're doing wrong instead of congratulating yourself for small victories. It was easy to get mad at myself for not wanting to get out of bed some days, for drinking too much, for staying out too late or for sending that 15th text to my ex.

It's easy to get caught up in what you're doing wrong instead of congratulating yourself on a victory.

Sure, those aren't typically positive things to do, but what was the use of beating myself up for it? You have to take the good with the bad and keep on moving.

I began to focus on the positive things I had going in my life: I loved my job, I had great friends, and while some days I eat an entire pizza and forget to brush my teeth, it's all apart of the process and even I know it can't rain forever.

I took back control of my life and started chasing my bliss instead of love.

As a result, I fell in love with myself and my life. I figure everything else will fall into place, eventually.