If you worry too much about what can be be, or whatever may have been, you will ignore and overlook what is. Remember this. Happiness releases what you assume life should be like right now and sincerely appreciates it for all it is.
Over the past decade, Angel and I have been gradually working with hundreds of our course students, coaching clients, and participants in live events, we have come to understand that the root cause of most human stress is simply our stubborn propensity to stick to things. In summary, we hold on to the hope that things will go exactly as we imagine, and then we end up complicating our lives when they do not.
For example, there are a number of times when our minds cling to unhelpful ideals …
- Life is not supposed to be so, I need it to be different
- There is only one thing I want, I can't be happy without it
- I'm absolutely right, the other person is totally wrong
- This person should love me and want to be with me
- I shouldn't be alone, shouldn't be overweight, should not being exactly how I am right now, etc.  In all these common examples, the mind holds on to something – an ideal – which is not real. And after a while the inevitable happens – lots of unnecessary stress, anxiety, unhappiness, self-righteousness, self-hatred and depressive feelings.
So, how can we stop clinging on so hard?
By realizing that there is nothing to hold on to in the first place.
Most things we desperately try to hold on to, as if they are real, safe, solid, eternal fixtures in our lives, are not really there. Or if they are there in some form, they change, fluid, impermanent or simply imagined in our minds.
Life becomes much easier to deal with when we remind ourselves of this and live accordingly. Let's do just that today …
1. Practice letting everything breathe.
As you read these words, you breathe. Stop for a moment and feel this breath. You can control this breath and make it faster or slower, or make it behave the way you want. Or you can simply let yourself breathe in and breathe out naturally. There is peace in just letting the lungs breathe, without having to control the situation or do anything about it. Now imagine letting other parts of your body breathe, like your tense shoulders. Leave them there without having to tighten them or check them.
Now look around the room you are in and see the objects around you. Choose one and let it breathe. There are probably people in the room with you too, or in the same house or building, or in nearby houses or buildings. Visualize them in your mind and let them breathe.
When you let everything and everyone breathe, you just let them, just as they are. You don't have to control them, worry about them or change them. You just let them breathe, in peace, and you accept them as they are. This is what letting go is all about. It can be a life-changing practice.
2nd Practice accepting your current reality and just floating.
Imagine you're blindfolded and treading water in the middle of a large pool, and you're desperately struggling to grab the edge of the pool you think is nearby, but really it's not – it's far away. Trying to take the imaginary edge is to stress yourself out and get tired, when you suddenly ignore and try to stick to something that is not there.
Now imagine that you pause, take a deep breath and realize that there is nothing nearby to hold on to. Just water around you. You can continue to struggle with grabbing something that does not exist … or you can accept that there is only water around you, and relax and float.
Truth be told, inner peace begins when you take a new breath and choose not to allow an uncontrollable event to dominate you in the present. You are not what happened to you. You are what you choose to be at this moment. Let go, breathe and start again.
3rd Practice challenging the stories that you keep telling yourself.
Many of the biggest misunderstandings in life could be avoided if we simply took the time to ask, "What else can it mean?" A wonderful way to do this is to use a transformation tool we originally downloaded from research professor Brene Brown, who we then tailored through our coaching work with students and participants in live events. We call the tool the story I tell myself. Although I ask the question myself – "What else could it mean?" – it can help to update our thoughts and broaden our perspectives with the simple phrase The story I tell myself as a prefix for worrying thoughts has undoubtedly created many "aha-moments" for our students and recent clients.
Here's how it works: The story I tell myself can be applied to all difficult life situations or circumstances where a worrying thought becomes the best of you. For example, someone you love (husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.) may not have called or texted you when they said they would, and now it's been an hour and you feel upset because you obviously aren't doing enough high priority for them. When you catch yourself feeling like this you use the phrase: The story I tell myself is that they did not call me because I am not tall enough for them.
Then ask yourself these questions:
- Can I be absolutely sure that this story is true?
- How do I feel and behave when I tell myself this story?
- What is another possibility that can also make the end of this story true?
Give yourself space to think through everything.
Challenge yourself to think better on a daily basis – to challenge the stories you unconsciously tell yourself and do a reality check with a more objective way of thinking. (Angel and I build small, life-changing daily rituals with our students in the module "Goals and Growth" to get back to happiness.)
4. Practice putting down the figurative glass.
Twenty years ago, when Angel and I were just undergrad in college, our psychology professor taught us a lesson we have never forgotten. On the last class day before graduation, she went on stage to teach one final lesson, which she called "an important lesson about the power of perspective and mindset." When she lifted a glass of water over her head, everyone expected her to mention the typical "glass half empty or glass half full" metaphor. Instead, with a smile on his face, our professor asked, "How heavy is the glass I hold?"
Students called out answers from a few ounces to a few kilos.
After a few moments of field response and nodded, she replied: “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass is irrelevant. It depends on how long I keep it. If I hold it for a minute or two, it's pretty easy. If I hold it for an hour straight, the weight can hurt my arm pain. If I hold it for a straight day, my arm will probably trample up and feel completely stupid and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass on the floor. In both cases, the absolute weight of the glass does not change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me. "
Since most of us students nodded our heads in agreement, she continued. “Your concerns, frustrations, disappointments and stressful thoughts are similar to this glass. Think about them for a little while and nothing drastic happens. Think about them a little longer and you start to feel noticeable pain. Think about them all day, and you will feel completely stunned and paralyzed, unable to do anything else until you lose them. "
Think about how this relates to your life right now.
If you have struggled to deal with the importance of what you are thinking today, it is a strong sign that it is time to put down the figurative glass.  Renewing Your Faith in Yourself
A great part of practicing letting go is gradually renewing your belief in yourself. guide you like a flashlight in the dark.
It's about standing on your own two legs without the crutches you've stuck to.
And you're strong enough!
YOU GOT THIS!
What if you choose today to believe that you have enough and that you are enough? Imagine if today you choose to think that you are strong enough, wise enough, kind enough and loved enough to take a positive step forward – what if you accepted people today exactly what they are and life exactly as it is – what if you, when the sun goes down today, choose to believe that the little progress you made was more than enough for a day? And what happens if tomorrow you choose to believe it again?
Practice making these choices.
Practice letting go and renewing the belief you once had in yourself.
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