For many, Valentine’s Day is less about chocolate and roses than it is a stark realization that, yes, you’re still single. While you should know that being single has a ton of benefits, we get that it might not always be your ideal situation. And if you happen to feel less than thrilled with your current status, Jennifer Taitz, Psy.D., an expert in cognitive behavioral therapy and clinical instructor of psychiatry at UCLA, shares some wisdom in her new book, How to Be Single and Happy.
In the book, Taitz explains that becoming your happiest self is not about finding a life partner. “When it comes to looking for love during a time when technology and new norms might trigger feelings like you don’t matter, it’s important to learn to treat yourself well,” Taitz says. “Being single does not mean you’re flawed and in need of fixing. Your relationship, or lack thereof, has little to do with your self-worth.” YAS.
It’s true: Social scientists (who literally study happiness for a living) have found that happiness has more to do with your mindset and activities, rather than your circumstances. In a study of more than 24,000 people, marriage was found to increase levels of happiness on average—but only by 1 percent!
People indeed have strong emotional reactions to big events (like marriage), but researchers say that after the initial excitement fades, people quickly adapt back to their baseline level of well-being. Translation: Relationships can be great, but they aren’t the key to happiness if you aren’t happy already.
You know what does affect happiness? Your mindset. If you’re feeling mentally stuck, Taitz recommends a practice called mindfulness of thoughts. Take note of your thoughts, but do so from a distance, recognizing that they come and go and that you don’t need to chase each one. Prime examples of thoughts you should let go this Valentine’s Day: Will I end up alone? Why didn’t he text back? What’s my ex doing RN?
Instead of harping on negativity, consider a relationship cleanse like this writer did, go on a badass solo retreat, or pamper yourself with some self-care. And no matter what you do, no Googling your ex.