This is one of the times that I will reference my faith as I write about a topic. I think you will find the article interesting and helpful, regardless of your religious background, if you stick with it!
Are you ready to experience a breakthrough in your level of happiness in life?!
I am VERY excited to share with you one of the three things I recently mentioned that has made a big difference in my being able to enjoy life. I just know that it can do the same for you, if you give it a try. It is “let go”.
Letting go has been one of the most incredibly transforming things in bringing about happiness in my life. Not just happiness, but peace and contentment also. You see, before I learned to “let go”, I was in this crazy emotional hamster wheel where I was rolled to and fro by my circumstances. My circumstances and my interpretation of them dictated to me how I was going to feel on any given day, at any given moment. And any person who has lived for any amount of time knows that circumstances are as fickle as the weather and basing your happiness on them is a recipe for feeling miserable.
What I do NOT mean by “let go”…
You should know that, by “let go” I DON’T mean no longer caring about your life or having a fatalistic mentality. I don’t mean that you go along with everything that happens to you and never try to make changes, that you never set goals, or that magically everything in your life will just work out without you putting in any effort. We still are responsible for our lives.
It’s about surrendering what we can’t control
What I DO mean by “let go” is surrendering control of things in life that you have no control over anyways and not allowing yourself to respond negatively when things don’t go your way. To not be a control freak. To not be consumed by worry and anxiety. To release those unrealistic expectations you place on yourself that zap you of emotional energy and ultimately your happiness. To relinquish this false notion that your happiness is a destination. That if only __________ would happen, then finally you would be happy.
My life the roller coaster
In years gone by, I would walk around all day, every day, completely controlled by my circumstances, wearing my emotions on my sleeves, looking for approval and validation from the people around me. During those years it didn’t take much for my day to be ruined. A disapproving comment from a stranger, a laundry room full of dirty clothes, or a bad hair day could all do the trick. Yeah, I know, it was bad.
Oh boy, and when the big things in life hit… well, I certainly didn’t handle them well AT ALL. My life plans didn’t work out… hopeless. Dumped by a friend or boyfriend… devastated. Disease or sickness or death strike… falling apart. My life was a roller coaster of emotions whose track formed according to the circumstances that surrounded me. Until…
It’s about trust
I FINALLY got one of the important teachings of my Christian faith – trusting God. I’m not exactly sure how I missed this one, but somehow it was not something I focused much on in all the years I had practiced my faith. If asked, I would have agreed that as a Christian we should live our life trusting God, but in practice not so much.
When it came to the nitty-gritty of life, I was full of anxiety and stress and I was letting my circumstances control me. Instead of trusting God, regardless of my circumstances, I took on the huge burden of trying to figure everything out, of trying to control things that weren’t for me to control. Instead of finding my worth in who God said I was, I was defining myself based on what was going on around me, based on my fickle perceptions and emotions.
A happiness breakthrough
It was only after I learned to “let go”, to trust God, did I begin to see a huge breakthrough in happiness in my life.
Then it didn’t matter what other people thought of me or how they treated me, or if they even desired my friendship. As long as I knew I had been kind to them, I could… “let go”. After all, the only person I can control is myself and that is a big enough job. And there surely is a divine purpose at work, even in rejection or loss.
And SO WHAT the house we had hoped to have renovated in a year and a half is taking three and a half years and we are in a less than desirable rental. Stressing and worrying about it doesn’t change a darn thing, other than how I feel… “let go” and embrace an opportunity to work those trust muscles some more!
The house is messy, I am behind on the laundry, and SURPRISE a friend pops over… “let go”, “let go”, “let go”. It doesn’t matter that I impress them with my super amazing housekeeping skills (ha!) and maybe, just maybe, they may feel some relief themselves seeing that I don’t have it all together. There is a divine plan in even this small, embarrassing inconvenience.
The large family we had dreamed and planned and hoped to have probably isn’t going to happen. There CERTAINLY is some reason for our little cozy family of 4, at least for now… “let go”. One day I may better understand why, but for today all I need to do is trust.
Phew. Finally I was able to relax, to be. Peace became my friend in the place of anxiety. And freedom! Thank goodness for freedom to be happy- freedom to FINALLY enjoy the life I was living.
A burden-lifting life-changer
Hands down, letting go really has been one of the biggest life-changers for me (in correlation with addressing depression). My life no longer falls apart if a close friend abandons me (which has happened fairly recently), if I am diagnosed with a chronic illness (found out I have Ulcerative Colitis, a serious autoimmune disease, a year ago), or my big plans fly apart (yeah, that happens more often than not :)!
I no longer melt down when the house looks like it has been through a hurricane, there is a deadline to meet, the shirt I was planning to wear was shrunk in the drier, all the while the kids are running around like little natives… for the third day in a row.
NOR do I look to the approval of other people to feel valuable, and fret or become emotional if I don’t receive it. It doesn’t matter what people think of me; I am completely accepted and loved by God because of Christ Jesus. I can “let go” and trust God.
The little everyday things that would cumulatively send me over the edge, no longer do. I have so much peace trusting that God works out everything for the good of his children, even the frustrating and difficult things in life. When I trust him in all the details of my life it takes a huge, huge burden from my shoulders. Especially when things don’t go my way. I can “let go”. Ahhh…I can finally breathe.
Letting go can change your life too!
When you decide NOT to react to the difficult things that you face in life in a negative way, but rather “let go”, you too can experience happiness and freedom. When you choose NOT to ride the emotional roller coaster of life’s circumstances but instead be at peace with whatever circumstances you face, be they difficult or wonderful, there is a lot of peace to be found there. Constantly reacting to your circumstances in a negative way drains you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Ultimately it robs you of happiness. But rather, choosing to “let go” and be at peace, regardless of your circumstances, allows you to live a fuller, happier life.You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond. You can decide to “let go”. So in a very real way, your happiness is up to you!
Happily letting go,
p.s. I feel like to a certain extent anyone can benefit from letting go, even if you do not put your trust in God. Although, I must say that I do believe that only with God’s help can you experience the highest levels of peace and happiness. And that it is only when you turn from worry and stress to him that you experience them in their truest form. Otherwise you are only turning from your circumstances to yourself. Well, and I don’t know about you, but I am not exactly sovereign over much of anything, nor do I have the ability to know for sure what will happen an hour from now, much less the rest of my life.
This is article 2 in a 4 part series.
- Article 1: Happiness is NOT a destination
- Article 3: Practice self-care: a gift to those you love, not selfishness
- Article 4: Learning to be thankful