THE ENTIRELY UNEXPECTED BENEFITS OF HEARTBREAK

I have always believed people are incapable of change. Maybe on the margins, but that's it. Then I experienced something unexpected — true heartbreak. Something I had actively protected against my entire adult life. It was devastating in every way you would think. But, it also brought forth substantial positive change that could not be foreseen.
  1. Priorities
    A profound jolt to the nervous system can do so many things. Much like surviving a plane crash, it has the potential to strip away all the nonsense and crystallize what, and even more importantly, *who* matters most to you. Knowing this in such a genuine and confident way is empowering and exhilarating. The clarity of whom you should be with and why. Is there anything more meaningful than correctly prioritizing those that are deserving of such focus, love, and attention?
  2. Exercise
    The pain associated with heartbreak is terrible. It compels you to figure out some constructive means of working through it. I found exercise to be rather effective. While I worked out moderately before, a greater level of physical activity helped immeasurably. And as there was an inordinate amount of pain to get through, I'm now consequently in excellent shape. Interestingly, as the pain continues to decrease, I surprisingly continue to work out with the same frequency.
  3. Art
    Rudolf Steiner wrote that life is designed to break your heart — and meant that as a good thing. In my experience, and those of friends who have discussed similar circumstances, the acute emotions associated with heartbreak cause perception to be heightened across the board. For one, the experience and interaction with any type of art (e.g. books, music, movies) is far more powerful and intimate. It now makes so much sense as to why these experiences lead to the creation of such amazing work.
  4. Being bold
    If you can face and stare down the pain of heartbreak, you can probably do just about anything. That's a pretty significant realization — and it can provide the impetus and clarity to do what you've always wanted to do. You're more resilient and capable than you thought you could be. Future commitments and bold choices are therefore immensely more feasible. Apparently there's something to be said for "courage." Who knew?
  5. Breadth of experience
    This could easily be grouped above with Art. I had a girlfriend in high school who frequently posed the question of whether it was preferable to live a life with significant highs and lows or one with a consistent level of contentment. I would always argue for the steadiness of consistent contentment. Was I ever wrong. The risk and subsequent experience of the "lows" not only logically causes the "highs" to be more pronounced and resonant, but the lows surprisingly inform far more completely.
  6. Being open
    I have always been intensely private — a list like this would be the last thing I would ever write. But this experience has led me to drop a lot of the pretense that would cause me to be anxious and need to protect and shield many aspects of life. Such an enormous waste of time and energy. Further, and this was largely counterintuitive to me, people reward such openness by being remarkably kind and generous when you are vulnerable around them. Seems so obvious, but it wasn't to me.