Letting go is quite different than giving up, especially when it comes to our health and happiness. For each of us, there are things to let go of which are currently blocking our full experience of joy, love, contentment, peace, friendship, compassion, excitement, and awe.
“Some think that holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it’s letting go.” – Hermann Hesse
Let’s start letting go of the things which heighten our suffering and minimize our ability to enjoy the little things. Let’s refocus our energy and attention on the positive aspects of ourselves and of life. A new year is the perfect cornerstone for such a positive shift.
If you have things to let go for the sake of your peace, always start small, and start with one thing at a time. Give each practice time, energy, and loving commitment. And remember: this is a practice, a journey to be traveled and not a destination.
15 Things to Let Go for the New Year
1. Let go of resentment.
Life is far too short to be spent tallying wrongs and nursing bitterness. You don’t forgive people because they deserve it, but because you deserve peace and you both need love. Forgiveness is a soothing balm that heals old hurts and makes space for new, better memories to be formed.
2. Let go of the idea that everyone has it better than you.
Everyone else is not happier, more successful, or better off than you are. You are right where you need to be, and you need to start focusing on your journey, not everyone else’s.
The grass is greener where you water it, so stop looking at your neighbor’s yard and start growing happiness underneath your own two feet.
3. Let go of the need to be right.
Sometimes we need to let of of being right in order to maintain our peace. If we drop the ego and stop trying to control others, we can finally focus on how we want to feel inside regardless of what we see outside.
We are all operating from our own worlds, and our perception is the tool we use to label something as “right” or “wrong.” Seeing through different eyes does not justify disrespect. Resist the temptation to belittle opinions that don’t mirror yours. You can learn a lot by listening to what someone has to say, regardless of whether their message matches your beliefs.
4. Let go of thinking you need to do it on your own.
It’s a sign of strength–not weakness–to ask for help when you know you need it. Asking for help is also a sign of courage and the will to succeed at whatever it is you’re doing.
Humans are wired to connect, and connection is support. We all need to support and be supported. We are not meant to cope with every challenge alone. There is nothing brave about fighting your battles with a spoon when what you need is a sword.
5. Let go of lies.
Dishonesty is downright unattractive. I’m a big believer that even “white lies” are unnecessary and unacceptable. Whatever your beliefs, lies–big or small–add up over time and distort our happiness. Lies are manipulative, weak, and a sign of internal unease or struggle.
It’s much easier to be at peace with yourself when you’re honest about who you are, with what you say, and in what you do. You’re not really saving anyone from pain by lying; you’re only making it harder to tell the truth the next time around.
6. Let go of being your enemy.
Self-sabotaging behavior and negative self-talk undermines our happiness and cripples our experiences. You are not destined to fail. You are not ugly, stupid, or worthless. You are simply used to being your own worst enemy.
Start a new habit of becoming your own best friend. Take small steps to enjoy your own company. Be willing to love your perfectly imperfect self. Your life will change dramatically once you start to cherish your flawed life exactly as it is. What you’ll be doing is laying the groundwork for real, sustainable, positive change.
7. Let go of avoiding yourself.
If you’re not truly happy, don’t stop there and chalk it up to a life sentence of misery. Address your inner pain. Self-awareness is the first step to uncovering the root cause of suffering and moving beyond it. Face your fears head-on with patience, compassion, and love. Share your troubles with someone supportive who will listen and understand without judgment.
It’s okay to not be okay, but it’s not okay to pretend the feeling isn’t there.
8. Let go of lingering false beliefs.
If we truly want to believe something, we will mold our version of reality to include those beliefs. Your beliefs are not always true, however. Thinking something doesn’t make it true, but what we consistently affirm to be true becomes true for us.
Be transparent with your beliefs. If you’ve always held a negative thought about yourself, for example, look at the thought and ask, “Is this really true?” Do not let your identity be rooted in falsehood just because you’ve been unwilling to challenge your beliefs. Avoiding this self-work will only cause you to seek approval and happiness outside of yourself, where it cannot be sustained.
9. Let go of comparison.
Jealousy is a sign of unhappiness with who we are. When you start to feel the dark tinge of jealousy creeping into your veins, remind yourself that you are enough, and you are the only one who can walk your journey.
You don’t really know what others are going through and have gone through to get where they are. We so often compare our beginning to someone else’s middle, and it’s crippling to our happiness.
Be purely, genuinely you. Be so focused on your own growth and joy that you have no time to compare yourself to others.
10. Let go of making excuses.
This a habit and a lie we tell ourselves to cover up the reality of the situation. If you don’t want to do something, acknowledge that and don’t be afraid to say that your heart isn’t in it. Offer honesty with your reasons, but stay away from making excuses.
11. Let go of assumptions.
Stop assuming you can’t do something; try it or not. Stop assuming others will let you down; give them a chance and love them regardless. Stop assuming that you don’t know enough or that you know everything; life is a journey and the learning never ends.
12. Let go of being the victim.
No matter what has happened to you, you are not a victim if you choose not to be. We all have had difficult and tragic events happen in our lives, and most, if not all of them, were beyond our control.
Tragedy does not make victims; people make victims of themselves. Be the hero of your life instead. Grow from your experiences, good and bad. Vow to walk away with something valuable from the situation.
Rise above the temptation to become a victim (that’s easy). It’s easy to fall down. What matters is that you’re willing to get back up again.
13. Let go of taking things personally.
People can be hurtful, short, irritable, rude, impatient, self-absorbed, and unappreciative. Stop taking their qualities and troubles as a personal attack on yourself. Everyone is essentially living in their own world that they’ve created with their beliefs and habits. What they have to say about you says more about them than it does you.
14. Let go of the need to please everyone.
It’s nice to make others smile, but not if it’s at our own expense (that’s unhealthy). Your sense of self-worth is not based on the approval of others. Be nice and do nice things for others out of the goodness of your heart, not because you need their validation (you don’t).
You cannot please everyone, so try not to make it the focal point of your life.
15. Let go of regrets.
Getting stuck on old wounds does nothing to change the present, if only for the worse. Stop meditating on what you “could have” or “should have” done differently, because that didn’t happen. Life happened exactly as it happened, and it could have and should have been no other way. There is no other way than the way it is.
Trust where you are in life. Trust that your path is the path you needed to take to get to where you’re going. Have faith that the best things in life have yet to happen.
Read Lori’s article on Tiny Buddha for a collection of ways to let go and feel less pain. It’s full of small, simple yet powerful ideas to help you let go of what’s dragging you down so you can ring in the new year with a happy heart.
Read this affirmation for never giving up on what matters to you.
- What do you need to let go?
- What’s hindering your happiness?
- In what small ways can you start releasing what no longer serves you?
Please share your thoughts, lessons, obstacles you’ve overcome, any helpful practices, and experiences with me in the comments.
Share this with someone who matters to you.
Free woodland graphic by We Lived Happily Ever After; lettering by Aim Happy.