There is perhaps nothing more painful than a broken heart. It takes a person on an emotional and seemingly endless roller coaster ride.
Heartbreak is debilitating. It makes it hard to eat and sleep. Motivation escapes you, and simply getting out of bed becomes an insurmountable task.
In the words of the perpetually soulful singer Al Green:
And how can you mend a broken heart? How can you stop the rain from falling down? ...Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again.
There are many forms of heartbreak, but it typically occurs as a result of a romantic relationship coming to an end. The grief we feel after a breakup can be extraordinarily potent. It often causes us to act in completely irrational ways.
When we finally recover, we barely recognize the person we were at the height of our suffering. We wonder how we allowed ourselves to become so pathetic and obsessive.
In truth, however, we were no different than the countless individuals who have experienced the blinding pain of a shattered heart.
Moreover, we should all learn to recognize the positive aspects of heartbreak. This might sound contradictory, but suffering is both natural and enlightening.
Heartbreak is deceptive, don't let it fool you.
Heartbreak is psychologically and physiologically jarring.
Love is the most addictive drug. Studies have shown that getting over lost love is much like going through withdraw from toxic substances.
Heartbreak and grief lie to us. They tell us no one else feels quite as miserable and isolated as we do. We become convinced no other person in human history has felt like such complete and utter sh*t.
This type of self-indulgent despair is perhaps the most gruesome aspect of heartbreak. There's nothing worse than feeling alone and rejected. Yet, it is precisely these sentiments that make us human and connect us as a species. You're never truly alone.
Likewise, as the immensely wise James Baldwin once stated:
You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.
With that said, heartbreak isn't entirely negative. As noted by psychologist and relationship expert Dr. Carmen Harra, it also carries many hidden blessings. It can help lead to the kind of emotional intelligence necessary for success. Likewise, it stimulates creativity.
Heartbreak can be a source of inspiration and motivation.
Sam Smith, the tremendously talented singer who recently won four Grammy awards, is a testament to the fact that heartbreak can be motivating and lead to success.
After receiving one of his rewards, during an acceptance speech, Smith stated:
I want to thank the man who this record is about, who I fell in love with last year. Thank you so much for breaking my heart, because you got me four Grammys.
Likewise, as he stated during an interview with Fader over the summer:
In the Lonely Hour is about a guy that I fell in love with last year, and he didn't love me back. I think I'm over it now, but I was in a very dark place. I kept feeling lonely in the fact that I hadn't felt love before.
In Smith's case, heartbreak led him to become an immensely successful artist. The pain he felt inspired him to write and record award-winning music.
Loneliness, pain, heartache and anguish are incredibly trying emotions. Over time, however, they also grant us both perspective and strength.
Heartbreak breeds insight and creativity.
Smith is hardly the first singer, musician, actor or writer to take heartbreak and create something amazing out of it. Essentially every pop song in history was inspired by love.
Not to mention, the first novel in history, "The Tale of Genji," focuses heavily on themes of love and lust. Similarly, many of Shakespeare's greatest works concentrate on the complex nature of heartache.
Indeed, heartbreak not only serves as a source of inspiration and motivation, it can also foster creativity. Correspondingly, Florence Welch, lead singer of "Florence + the Machine," once said:
When you're heartbroken, you're at your most creative -- you have to channel all your energies into something else to not think about it. Contentment is a creativity killer.
Throughout history, the perplexing and mysterious nature of love has captivated the imagination of humanity. Thus, as clichéd as it may sound, love is what binds us all together.
It explains why Plato's "Symposium," written thousands of years ago, continues to be relevant when discussing the convoluted nature of love and romance.
It's also why we can still connect with the characters in "Romeo and Juliet," in spite of the fact that Shakespeare wrote it centuries ago.
And it's why you sing along with your parents when The Beatles or Marvin Gaye come on the radio, even though it's the music of their generation, not yours.
Yet, none of these playwrights, authors, philosophers or musicians would have been immortalized by their work had they not had their hearts broken.
Their ability to capture the convoluted nature of love and heartache is what allowed them to resonate with people and achieve greatness.
Love is timeless, and so is much of the art, theater, film, literature and music it's influenced. Heartbreak isn't the end of the world, in many ways it's the very beginning.
Citations: A Reason to Get Your Heart Broken Unblocking Creative Flow (The Atlantic ), 5 Hidden Blessings of Heartache (Huffington Post), The Science of Heartbreak (Mens Health ), Do You Need Rehab For Your Heartbreak (Psychology Today), The Healing Power of Heartbreak Why We Should All Have This Painful Experience (Huffington Post), The Cruelest Study Why Breakups Hurt (Time), Sam Smith (Fader), Sam Smith Thanks the Jerk Who Broke His Heart in His Grammys Speech (Vulture), 5 Scientific Reasons Why Breakups Are Devastating (Huffington Post)