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5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Heartbreak

Keep joy in your heart and it is yours forever.

Source: Thomas Kaufman for Les Cardes de Bellville
Source: Thomas Kaufman for Les Cardes de Bellville

Rainbows take our breath away. Friendship comforts. Love captivates. How easy it is to be grateful during happy moments, but what about those that make us feel sad? I was reminded recently of an incident that took place when a young friend was "caught" glowing with happiness.

In the midst of a social gathering as she entered the room, a neighbor exclaimed "You look gorgeous. So who is he?"

A bit befuddled, the young woman answered, "Just a single guy I've known for years."

To which the woman replied, "Oh, he'll break your heart" while at the same time turning to several gentlemen to say, "We have to introduce her to a back-up."

I wanted to ask: "Why are you raining on her parade?" But I didn't. Nonetheless, I thought quite a bit about it and realized something about heartbreak—yes it is real, but good memories are real as well.

As I was thinking about this situation, wanting my own children to take a positive approach to life, quite unexpectedly the neighbor phoned to say, "You know, maybe I spoke out of turn. Maybe he will break her heart and maybe he won't. It's a chance and she should enjoy the happy moments."

Gratitude in good times or bad

When we feel happy, safe, protected, and loved—we are grateful. It is so easy to be grateful when things are going our way, but it is a challenge when we are hurt or disappointed.

Those we love oftentimes disappoint us, and we disappoint them. Life is not always rosy, but we can still put those rose-colored glasses right back on and look for rays of light that appear to emanate from passing clouds.

5 Ways to Protect Against Heartbreak

1. Listen to what it is the man you are with is telling you. If your man says he can't imagine living with anyone, believe him. And don't keep hoping that he will change. He won't change and that could break your heart.

2. Trust your instincts. When I talked with Maria Coder about her dating classes in New York, she said: "Let your instincts be your guide. If you are uneasy about aspects of a relationship, get to the bottom of it or get out."

3. Store up treasures of joy. When you are with someone you care about deeply, relish the good times, the loving moments. Keep them in your heart where no one can take them from you. Only you can dissipate joy through anger or resentment.

4. Keep a gratitude journal and write out at least four little joys that you experience each day with friends, with family, with your partner. This expands your thinking so as not to become possessive of the person who means something to you.

5. Be certain that the love of your life, your current squeeze, the person you married is your best friend—someone who keeps you doubled over in laughter. As Joanne Woodward once said of Paul Newman: "Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that's a real treat."

The gratitude concept

Sometimes relationships falter because one partner simply forgets to be romantic or show appreciation—loving words, a gentle touch, a note that says, "Thank you for being in my life."

Each day, there are disappointments, but sometimes we create them with hidden agendas or unspoken expectations. Living a life of gratitude is protective.

"By living the gratitude we may not feel, we can begin to feel the gratitude that we live," says Robert Emmons, University of California, Davis. His colleague Jeffrey J. Froh, at Hofstra, says, "Children as well as adults benefit from gratitude," and he is trying to teach his 4-year-old to develop grateful thinking even in adversity.

He told me the story of when his little boy came home from playschool and said, "My friends were mean to me today." To paraphrase the conversation, he was able to remind his son that he still has a best friend. And added, "Think about how lucky you are!"

Gratitude can be a challenge, but it can also be a goal. By developing an attitude of gratitude, we can live within a circle of serenity—one that helps us store up reserves of joy.

Follow me on Twitter @LoveColumnist.

Copyright 2011 Rita Watson. All rights reserved.

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