When the pain of holding on is worse than
the pain of letting go, it is time to let go.
In the fall of 2002, after a stressful day at work, I snapped at Marc and locked myself in our home office to work on a web application I had been coding on the side. Marc’s grandmother, who was living with us at the time, knocked on the office door a few minutes later. “What?” I screamed. She didn’t answer. When I opened the door in frustration, she smiled and said, “Honey, someday you will think it’s funny that you were so darn serious today.”
Boy was she right. And now, every time I catch myself entering a bout of stress-induced irritability, I take a deep breath and do my best to let it GO. Today, I encourage you to do the same.
Truth be told, today is the oldest you’ve ever been and the youngest you will ever be again. It’s kind of scary, but it’s true. If there was ever a perfect day to start letting go of the needless drama and stress that’s been holding you back, that day is today. And since we often use our birthdays as mile markers to track our personal growth and accomplishments, I challenge you to this:
Before your next birthday…
- Let go of what isn’t helping your soul smile and grow. – Life is to be enjoyed, not endured. Follow a path that moves you. You are always free to do something that makes you smile.
- Let go of the baggage you know you need to leave behind. – As we grow older and wiser, we begin to realize what we need and what we need to leave behind. Sometimes walking away is a step forward.
- Let go of feeling like you aren’t making progress fast enough. – No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.
- Let go of the idea that you have too much to lose. – In the end, you won’t regret the things you’ve done nearly as much as the things you didn’t do when you had the chance. I’d rather have a life of “OH WELLS” than a life of “WHAT IFS.” Wouldn’t you agree?
- Let go of worrying about everyone else’s opinions of your life. – When writing the story of your life, don’t let someone else hold the pen.
- Let go of your tendency to avoid problems. – You cannot change what you refuse to confront.
- Let go of all your empty complaints. – If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.
- Let go of the excuses. – If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.
- Let go of lazy attitudes and routines. – You can’t underestimate a person who always works hard. Be that person. In life, you don’t get what you wish for; you get what you work for. (Read The Power of Habit.)
- Let go of making the same mistakes over and over. – You can’t make the same mistake twice. The second time you make it, it’s no longer a mistake, it’s a choice.
- Let go of the fantasy of perfection. – If you want to get really good at something, let go of the notion of perfection and replace it with the notion of endless playful exploration.
- Let go of believing the best is behind you. – Your life isn’t behind you; your memories are behind you. Your life is always right here, right now. Seize it! Choose to let each of your experiences today be a gateway to an even brighter tomorrow.
- Let go of thinking you should always get what you want. – Not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
- Let go of the notion that life is fair. – If you expect the world to be fair with you because you are fair, you’re fooling yourself. That’s like expecting the lion not to eat you because you didn’t eat him.
- Let go of thinking others have it better than you. – Truthfully, nobody has it easy; everybody has issues. If everybody threw their problems in a pile for you to see, you would likely grab yours back in a heartbeat.
- Let go of the expectations that are holding you back. – The quality of your life is always 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you respond to it.
- Let go of thinking there is a perfect time. – You can’t keep waiting for the perfect moment – it doesn’t exist. You must dare to do it today because life is too short to wonder what could have been.
- Let go of the need to always feel comfortable. – If you want to make an impact, big or small, get comfortable with being uncomfortable. All growth begins at the end of your comfort zone.
- Let go of thinking you have to know everything first. – You don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward. Just do the best you can until you know better. Once you know better, do better.
- Let go of the “all or nothing” mentality regarding success. – Appreciate the grey area between the extremes of success and failure – the journey, the experiences, etc. And above all, never let success get to your head or failure get to your heart.
- Let go of your mistakes. – Don’t carry your mistakes around with you. Instead, place them under your feet and use them as stepping stones.
- Let go of letting your daily struggles get the best of you. – Hard times often lead to greatness. Keep the faith. It will be worth it in the end. The beginnings to great things are always the hardest.
- Let go of excessive worrying. – Worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace and potential. Stop over-thinking everything. Life is too short.
- Let go of wanting stuff you don’t need. – Don’t think of cost. Think of value. And remember, it’s always easier to find wealth by needing less, instead of making more.
- Let go of your ungrateful thoughts. – Happiness never comes to those who don’t appreciate what they have. So be thankful today. Life isn’t perfect, it’s just pretty darn good.
- Let go of all your reasons to be unhappy. – Stop looking for reasons to be unhappy. Focus on the things you do have and the reasons you should be happy. Positivity changes everything. (Read Buddha’s Brain.)
- Let go of any hypocrisy. – For instance, don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.
- Let go of assuming other people are more “normal” than you. – The only normal people you know are the ones you don’t know very well. Period.
- Let go of the emotions that often get the best of you. – Stay strong. Even when it feels like things are falling apart, they’re not. Take control of your emotions before they take control of you.
- Let go of your temper. – Never do something permanently foolish just because you are temporarily upset.
- Let go of ugly words. – Saying someone is ugly doesn’t make you any prettier.
- Let go of your superficial judgments. – We meet no ordinary people in our lives. If you give them a chance, everyone has something amazing to offer.
- Let go of trying to change others. – For the most part, you can’t change people and you shouldn’t try. Either you accept who they are or you choose to live without them.
- Let go of thinking you’re too cool to be kind. – It takes a great deal of strength to be gentle and kind. And you are much stronger than you think.
- Let go of being “too busy” to SHOW your love. – Loyalty is hard to find. Trust is easy to lose. Actions speak louder than words. Tell your loved ones you love them every day, and prove it.
- Let go of one-sided relationships. – If someone truly cares about you, they won’t make you feel like you need to constantly fight for their attention.
- Let go of those who have never been there for you. – Remember, it’s during the toughest times of your life that you’ll get to see the true colors of the people who say they care about you.
- Let go of negative influences. – You can’t expect to feel good if you surround yourself with negativity. Be with those who bring out the best in you, not the stress in you.
- Let go of all self-hate. – Love yourself! Forgive yourself! Accept yourself!
- Let go of any lies you’ve heard that you aren’t attractive enough. – More women worldwide are suffering from anorexia and bulimia than are fighting breast cancer. Love yourself the way you are. You are already beautiful.
- Let go of trying to be someone else. – Someone will always be prettier. Someone will always be smarter. Someone will always be younger. But they will never be YOU. And that makes you powerful.
- Let go of the things people say about you. – Try not to take things other people say about you too personally. What they think and say is a reflection of them, not you.
- Let go of the petty arguments. – You can’t change how people treat you or what they say about you. All you can do is change how you react and who you choose to be around.
- Let go of putting everyone else’s needs in front of your own. – Give as much as you can, but don’t allow yourself to be used. Listen to others closely, but don’t lose your own voice. (Read The Road Less Traveled.)
- Let go of needing everyone to like you. – Everyone doesn’t need to like you. But remember, just because some people don’t seem to care for you, doesn’t mean you should forget about everyone else who does.
- Let go of changing just to impress people. – Don’t ever change just to impress someone else. Change because it makes you a better person and leads you to a brighter future.
- Let go of life’s little annoyances. – Don’t let dumb little things break your happiness. True wealth is the ability to experience and appreciate each moment for what it’s worth.
- Let go of yesterday. – Don’t let yesterday steal your present. Don’t judge yourself by your past; you don’t live there anymore. Let go, grow, and move forward.
- Let go of thinking that giving up means failure. – Giving up and moving on are two very different things.
- Let go of the idea that it’s too late to start over. – Remember, it’s always better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than the top of the one you don’t.
(Note: Obviously, if your birthday is tomorrow, or next week, pick a couple points to work on now, and make it a goal to complete the list by your next birthday.)
Sometimes the hardest part isn’t letting go, but rather learning to start over in certain areas of your life. This is a challenge all of us face. If you’re struggling with any of the points above, there is a clear path to the new beginning you seek. Your present habits are simply broken and need to be mended. When you trust a broken set of habits every day, it’s only a matter of time before you feel broken too.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. You can make adjustments starting today that will instantly help you feel better, think more clearly, and live more effectively. That’s why we wrote our book, “1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.” It’s filled with short, concise tips on how to do just that. Check it out.
What’s the #1 thing you need to let go of before your next birthday? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.
Photo by: Camdiluv