Happiness is not an elusive unicorn, however we often let things stand in the way of true contentment, like focusing too heavily on what others are doing and not tending to your own garden – speaking metaphorically about your life, of course, not your bikini line.
Another habit we fall into is focusing on things we cannot change rather than appreciating the good things, and making steps to improve the not-so-great bits.
Holding on to negativity takes so much more energy than letting go, so it’s time we let go of these habits in order to live a better, happier life.
1.Let go of feeling sorry for yourself
In the face of a negative experience, it’s natural to take a moment’s pause and feel a bit sorry for yourself, but you cannot linger in this headspace because it does not serve you.
“The time-limited pity party is something we all do, and that’s ok,” tells From the Leftfield’s psychologist, Dr Sasha Lynn. “But if you hold onto that feeling of being sorry for yourself, then you’re actually doing yourself a disservice. No one is going to fix things, no one is going to make your life better. Only you are. And once you let go of feeling sorry for yourself, you can take that step forward.”
2.Let go of the need to be right
No one can be right all the time, and being right isn’t actually very important. Open and frank discussion is more important, and listening to other people’s views is crucial to happiness.
Letting go of your desire to be right and agreeing to disagree is a far easier road to joy. Also, Googling to prove your point is outstandingly annoying.
3.Let go of negative self-talk
There are enough people in the world that will try to pull you down so you need to have your own back. You are an amazing, unique creature with your own talents and strong points, and you need to high-five yourself for these instead of smack-talking in the mirror.
“Negative self-talk does absolutely nothing for us,” tells Dr Lynn. “It doesn’t make us feel better, doesn’t change our situation, doesn’t help us to move closer to where we want to be. Try replacing negative self-talk with balanced self-talk instead - taking both the good and the bad into account.”
4.Let go of resentment
Holding on to anger is detrimental to your wellbeing. It has long been speculated that holding on to bitter emotions can cause illness, but it most certainly causes heartache.
Practising forgiveness increases feelings of empathy and can reduce stress and anxiety. Holding anger and resentment is easy and letting it go can be hard, but when the reward is happiness it’s a no-brainer.
5.Let go of the idea of the perfect partner
The perfect partner is a rainbow unicorn – nothing more than a glorious fantasy. Relationships take work and everyone has good aspects and average aspects to their personality. The beauty of love is appreciating the good bits and overlooking the crappy parts of your partner that don’t float your boat.
“One question - are you perfect? No? Neither is anyone else,” says Dr Lynn. “There are going to be people that you click with and people that you don’t. The partner for you is out there, but they aren’t always going to tick all the boxes all of the time.”
6.Let go of your sense of entitlement
Heads up – the world owes you nothing. If you want something, you need to put on your Tenacious Pants and go out there, work your buttocks off and go it.
Your success will taste all the sweeter for all of the effort you have put in. Refusing to let go of your sense of entitlement will breed other things on this list that drag you down, such as jealously and resentment. These are not good attributes, mmmkay?
7.Let go of regret
The past is the past and unless you have a time machine there is not a thing you can do to change whatever has gone down before today. Regret is a negative emotion that is a waste of energy. Instead focus on how you can do things better next time and grow from the experience.
8.Let go of limiting beliefs
In some parts of the world, baby elephants are chained by the leg. They pull and pull at the chain but they cannot break free so they stop trying. As the elephant grows they don’t get a stronger chain, they only get a bigger shackle for the growing leg. Our negative beliefs are often set early, and letting go of them is not easy, but it is necessary to achieve success and happiness.
“Much like negative self-talk, limiting beliefs are a form of self-handicapping. We are doing ourselves a disservice by limiting our beliefs as to what we can do or what we can try. Failure is nothing to be fearful of. Not trying or living life to the full is though,” says Dr Lynn.
9.Let go of people who hold you back
If your nearest and dearest do not life you up and encourage you, it’s possible they're toxic. Life is a challenge and we need to surround ourselves with people who help us on our path and put wind in our sails. If someone in your life drinks from your “love cup” more than they “fill your love cup”, it might be time to let them go.
10.Let go of jealousy
Life isn’t about having what we want it’s about wanting what we have.
“Being jealous of others, or being jealous that you don’t have something, someone etc only serves to hold you back,” says Dr Lynn. “There’s always going to be someone out there who is bigger/better/stronger/faster/richer.”
The sooner we let go of jealousy, hold onto our own self-pride, and find happiness in what is in our own backyard, the happier we will be.
Danielle Colley is a writer, blogger, mum and ice cream afficionado. She is a regular contributor to The Weekly and other online and print publications.