Have you ever met someone who wasn't looking to let go and search for happiness? I haven't. I know I'm constantly striving to learn how to let go of negative thoughts and grudges and be happy, whether it's being content in my marriage and friendships, being a mom and my day-to-day activities. Achieving bliss or constant happiness is something I wonder if I can ever truly achieve, but on some level, I know that it's there. After almost 40 years of life, I can find enjoyment in most of my days.
I wasn't always happy -- or able to find a sliver of it -- even for a moment. I spent most of my childhood and teen years as an anxious, resentful and depressed kid. I went on my first round of anti-depressants at age 14, at a time when it was still highly stigmatized to admit that help was something that was asked for. I remember my parents telling me to keep "it" a secret, that no one needed to know I was taking medication. I self medicated, too. I did that until my mid-twenties when I realized that I needed to get my shit together. I was able to function enough and gain perspective after my three auto-immune disorders flared up at once.
The first thought I would have when I would wake up was, "Why didn't God just take me?" and it would only spiral down from there. Crying, on medication, and in pain so intense that I needed to use a wheelchair. I couldn't even walk from my bed, in my 700 sq ft apartment, to the bathroom. After an extreme treatment plan for six weeks at the Dead Sea in Israel, I emerged a new person. I wheel-chaired my way in, and danced my way out. Maybe being that sick was my rock bottom, but I learned something during my time there. I discovered how to let go and find happiness. It's taken me 10 years to fully implement it in my life (and many ups and downs), but it's really a one step process to find happiness in your daily life -- if even for five minutes.
I'm not a yoga person. I'm not a zen person. I'm not a person that had good examples of how to let go and find happiness. I am not going to preach something that I feel like is unattainable or uncomfortable, because I know what that feels like. I am going to give you ONE step to put into your life, and if you can learn it, I promise that you'll be a step closer to feeling fulfilled.
Generally, our emotions are a result of reactions to others actions. "Why did they treat me that way?" "Why didn't he/she call me back?" "How come I never get invited?" "They judged me because of my tattoos/hair color/skin color/clothes, etc" "Why does custody and co-parenting have to be such a fight?" I'm not referring to major/clinical bouts of depression, death of a loved one, or a major life event, but in our daily life, we encounter a lot self-doubt, no matter how confident and self-assured we are.
I've learned to question every reaction, and tell myself, "It's not about me." Try it, and you'll be amazed at how those four words will give you clarity, and bring forth a lot of positivity in your life. If you delve into the reason behind it, you'll notice that you make choices based on your own experiences. Who you gravitate towards and who you avoid. The color of your sweater to the color of your car. The words you use, the food you eat. Everything is based on past experiences. It makes sense then, to consider that when someone reminds you of a positive experience, you associate them with that, and view them as such. It works the other way, too. If someone triggers a negative memory, you will almost always correlate the two together. Remembering that "it's not about me" when you're feeling hurt or down keeps things in perspective, and enables you to behave with compassion. Not getting hired for a job that you were sure you'd have been perfect for. Another mom not saying hi to you, no matter how many times you've introduced yourself. Your spouse getting upset because you didn't check in when you promised. All of these things that can steal your good spirits, can easily be brushed away with the knowledge that letting go with, "it's not about me" means you can react with understanding and kindness.
For example, "I wanted to go to that dinner party, but didn't get an invite. I'll call my other friend and see what she/he is up to that night," or "I wonder who hurt that person so much that they can just look right through me like that," or "I know this is still raw and emotional for my ex. I can choose to let the nasty remarks slide, and focus on the kids," and "I'll try calling a couple more times before giving up, maybe they got caught up and haven't had a chance to get back to me."
Is it really that easy? Well, in a sense, yes. Once we learn to let go of our personal issues and ego, it leads us to in turn wonder why we act the way we do, too. "Why didn't I wave when I saw the neighbor? Who does he remind me of?" and "I should have called when I said I would, I was just feeling like I was a kid again, being controlled by my parents. I'll try harder next time"
Give it a try, and see if it makes a difference in your view on how to let go of grudges and negativity. If you want a guide on how to identify your underlying feelings and what they show us we need, click here for a great list.
And if all else fails, who can't be happy and sing along to this song?! Click to pop over to MrsMuffinTop for lots of great ideas, advice and jokes!