Most of us think that to be happy we need to HAVE MORE and DO MORE.
But here’s a secret: happiness is a state of mind and it’s as much about what you let go of and DO LESS as it is about what you actively pursue.
In this article, I will give you the top 8 things you should let go of to have a happier life.
1) Your impossible dreams
Some people go crazy chasing their big dreams that ignore their happiness. Don’t be one of them.
Dream big all you want – it’s good to have something to live for. But at the same time, you need to stay grounded and make sure that your goals are actually achievable.
And not only that, it would be even better if you break down your big dreams into smaller goals that are easier to achieve.
Happiness is fleeting, and it’s much better to enjoy every step of the process—celebrating even “smaller” victories—than to focus only on that big moment when you’ve finally achieved your ultimate goal.
Let go of your attachment and obsession with the result and enjoy the time you are working towards your goals.
The journey is long… so learn to enjoy each step instead of waiting for the finish line to be truly happy.
2) Your impossible standards for yourself
You want to be the smartest, fittest, most stylish and nicest person you know.
And again, while it’s good to have personal goals and standards, being too hard on yourself will do you more harm than good.
You don’t have to be the best at everything. I repeat: you don’t have to be the best at everything. In fact, you don’t have to be the best at ANYTHING!
Being “good” is good enough.
For the love of all things holy, give yourself permission to be just “ordinary” or “mediocre.”
Of course, keep working towards a version of yourself that you want, but don’t go too crazy. You’re already awesome right now. Trust me, always wanting to be the “best version” of yourself can lead to misery.
3) Your expectations of others
We all know: the less you expect from others, the happier you will be.
I don’t mean that you shouldn’t trust others and that you shouldn’t be close to someone because it will only lead to disappointment anyway.
What I mean is that you should stop being too anal about how your family, friends and colleagues act, talk and think. You should stop watching his every move and evaluate whether he is a good friend or not, a good parent or not.
As long as you are not being abused in any way, you should let go of how you expect others to live their lives and how they treat you.
Instead of focusing on them, focus on yourself because that is what you have control over. Pay more attention to how you are to them, rather than how they are to you. That way, you won’t be disappointed by every little thing that makes you “unloving” or “disrespectful.”
4) Your past
Like it or not, there’s no denying that the past sets the stage for how we see the world in the present and the future. And many of us are unlucky enough to have gone through some pretty messy experiences.
Time alone is not enough to heal these wounds – my father, in his 70s, still talks bitterly about his childhood to this day and has made many bad decisions over the years because of this wound.
I’m sure if he’d just let go of his past sooner, he’d be a lot happier…and even make better decisions.
Many of us use the bad things that happened to us in the past to justify the bad decisions we make in the present and therefore blame why we continue to face difficult times in the present.
Now I don’t want to minimize these bad experiences you’ve had, just like I don’t want to minimize my father’s suffering. And it’s not exactly easy to solve these problems.
But the sooner you work through your traumas, either on your own or with outside help, the sooner you can take charge of your life and heal. You don’t want to grow old, still bitter about your childhood.
5) Your perfectionism
If you’re like Monica from FRIENDS, that is, if you have one Type A personality—You’re probably a lot more stressed than the average human being.
Kind of like grown-ups who want everything to be organized and well… perfect (why the hell should that be hard to do?!). This means that you expect a lot from yourself and others, and whenever someone is “slacking off” or “not doing their job well”, you can’t help but get very impatient.
Here’s what you should do: let go.
It’s exhausting to always want things to be perfect and tidy.
It will only lead to stress and burnout… and those two are definitely not a recipe for a happy life.
If you’re a parent, learn to delegate tasks to your partner or nanny even if they can’t give you “perfect” baths, “perfect” meals, and “perfect” lessons.
If you’re an artist, don’t hate yourself for not making the “perfect” art you envisioned.
Let go of perfectionism if you want to be happier
6) Your toxic friends
If a friendship has turned sour, too bitter, it’s probably time to rest.
It will only make you miserable if you keep trying to fix something that has clearly run its course.
While I’m not advocating that you just cut off contact every time you feel the slightest discomfort, you need to learn how to identify when a relationship is no longer functional.
It’s not that easy to know when to end a relationship, but I ask myself these questions as a guide:
Are we generally happy together? Does your presence in my life make me a better person? Do I still really like them? Can I still trust them? Do I still enjoy your presence?
If your answer to all of this is a hard NO, let go. Start building new friendships.
Let go of friends who don’t add value to your life (when you’re clearly making an effort to add to theirs).
Let go of your idea of what friendship should be and start forming new ones.
7) Your need to have a life partner
Yes, I hear you. We all want to be with someone we love and who loves us…someone who makes us feel less alone in this world.
Everyone seems to be on this mission to find their “other half”.
And of course, having a partner can certainly make you happy and I encourage you to keep an open heart in case the right person stumbles upon you. But at the same time, fixating on this goal leads to misery.
How many single people cry at night, praying that they will finally find the one?
How many people stay in miserable relationships just because they’re afraid they won’t find another one?
You don’t have to be in a relationship. You can wish it badly, sure. But NEED? No. Let it go and form many kinds of relationships.
8) Your guilt and deep regrets
Guilt isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s a sign that you have a conscience. And it’s something that keeps you on the straight and level, helping you avoid committing atrocity after atrocity.
But sometimes it can be so strong that it’s all consuming… and that’s where the problem lies.
Sometimes you might feel guilty about a particular mistake you made ten years ago, or even about the good deeds you didn’t do when you had the chance.
But instead of letting these shortcomings get you down, you should try to hold your head high and keep doing your best, for the times you failed and the times you could have done better.
There are many things that prevent us from being truly happy in life, from old wounds to high expectations.
Some of these are easy enough to handle on your own, while some require deep introspection and outside help to fully resolve.
It won’t be easy and it may take some time before you really feel the results (for most people it takes years), but you have no choice.
If you really want to be happier, you MUST learn to let go.
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