Life is often about faking it. You feign excitement for family get-togethers that you would rather skip out on. You train yourself to exude enthusiasm at work, even when it’s the last place you want to be. Although there will always be instances where you are forced to grin and bear it, this becomes problematic when it begins to take precedence over true happiness.
The purpose of this article isn’t simply to say “You are unhappy because you’re not dealing with these things” or “You’re setting yourself up to be unhappy.” Instead, it’s to acknowledge that you’re human, and letting go of certain things can be particularly difficult to do. However, a friendly reminder once in a while isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Replacing the common idea of “letting go” with a phrase that holds a more positive connotation, here are 4 things that you need to free yourself of to find genuine happiness:
1. That past relationship that you can’t stop dwelling on.
When you reflect on a past relationship, you often focus on the good and neglect the bad. You think back to the fun vacations and the forehead kisses. You stay fixated on the companionship, and put the betrayal (or whatever caused the breakup) in the back of your mind.
In these instances, it’s important to remind yourself of why it ended. When your mind wanders to the good times, be cognizant of the fact that loneliness is clouding your judgment. By reserving such a large spot for this person in your heart, you’re putting in minimal effort to experience that same feeling with someone else.
Part of you will always wish it worked out, and that’s not going to change over night. However, what can change is your perception of how it played out. The more you remind yourself of why it ended, the less you will cling to false hope.
2. Worrying about what the future has in store.
None of us are strangers to the fear of the unknown. Not being aware of your next step isn’t only scary, but it can be paralyzing. When you are faced with various options and not sure which to pick, you wish you could just choose nothing.
It’s important to plan for the future, but not to stay too consumed by it. While dwelling on the past can cause you to focus too heavily on the good, harping on the future may lead you to concentrate on the bad. The anxiety of not knowing can make you think of worst-case scenarios, and create problems that weren’t there in the first place.
Sometimes things just have their way of working out. The more you tell yourself this, the more you can trick ourselves into believing it – and improve your overall attitude.
3. Craving others’ constant approval.
In the “hey, look at me!” world we live in today, it’s difficult to avoid the engagement announcements, college graduations, and updates of dream jobs being snagged. Because you are so busy crafting the perfect Facebook status, you tend to forget that you are doing these things for yourself – not to impress others. In addition to working too hard to astonish people, problems can arise when your way of thinking doesn’t align with people you care about.
Maybe your parents don’t really understand the point of your blog, or your best friend doesn’t agree with your decision to go to grad school. Whatever it is, it’s important to break free of the idea that you need others’ approval for whatever it is you’ve set your mind to. You need to allow yourself to be happy on your own terms – not because someone else conveys that it’s okay.
4. The idea of how things “should be.”
When you have a vision of how you want things to work out, you often feel disappointed when you don’t reach your goals. Leave behind thoughts such as “I should be married by now” or “I thought I would be promoted at this point”.
Things don’t always pan out how you hoped, but chasing perfection also isn’t realistic. While the waiting process may seem drawn-out and exhausting, remind yourself that nothing worth having comes easy. Plus, if the prediction of your future was spot-on, what fun would that be anyway?
You’d be surprised how much happier you may feel just from letting yourself sway from the path. It shows you that happiness is all about making room for what matters – and freeing yourself of what doesn’t.