Learning To Let Go of What You Cannot Control is the Path to Happiness
The path to happiness is one of learning to let go of what you cannot control…and celebrating the life you have. It involves both surrender and gratitude, and allows you to accept “what is” without the despair of holding onto “what could have been.”
In a previous article, Seven Reasons Why Letting Go Is the Key to Happiness, I shared the benefits of learning to let go of what you can’t control, and how letting go will free you up to achieve authentic happiness. In this article, I’m going to share how to do that.
It’s important to recognize that all your desires are created out of your beliefs about what you need to be happy…and that no one thing can make you happy, no matter how strong your attachment to that thing or person may be.
Here are 10 tips for learning to let go of what you cannot control:
- Change your negative thoughts.Easier said than done, I know — especially when your inner critic is on perpetual replay; but just as every coin has two sides, so does every thought.To every negative there is a positive, and you will be amazed at the shifts that take place by thinking and speaking in the affirmative instead of the negative.
- Set your intentions.This may be for a goal or desired attitude or idea, and is often the opposite of what you tell yourself is actually true. You may believe you have every reason to say, “My life is falling apart,” but deciding that “the Universe is working for my highest good” can shift not only your thoughts, but their outcome.
- Be strategic, consistent and intentional about changing the way you process what enters your life. Recent research on neuroplasticity—the ability of the brain to change even in adulthood—reveals that as you develop new habits, you rewire the brain.So “practice your perspectives,” and develop your positivity muscle.
- Grieve what you are losing…And that includes the life that you had planned for yourself. Trying to control all aspects of your life has roots in a sense of entitlement — “Why me?” “Why shouldn’t I have what I want?” — and letting go of both the sense of entitlement and its expectations inevitably leads to grief.Be prepared to move through it, not around your grief.
- Actively search for ways to live well in spite of circumstances beyond your control. You always have choices in how you live — what you eat, where you socialize, what your activities are, etc. Be proactive in creating good things, do things you love, and choose what serves your highest good, regardless of your circumstances.
- Choose to accept the reality of “what is” instead of the despair of “what isn’t.” Spending your mental and emotional energy on “if only” thinking will eventually lead to bitterness, anxiety, anger and depression. Use your current reality as your springboard to moving forward, regardless of what that reality is.
- Learn to live in the moment. Anyone who is “owned” by a dog knows what “living in the moment” looks like. It is free of expectation, grudges, fear, and worry, and embraces only what is present in the moment at hand. Because there are no limits imposed by fear and worry, there is freedom to experience even the smallest pleasures with joy.
- Focus on what is good. Find something good in everything — there is always something good to be extracted from every experience and circumstance. Ask yourself, “What’s good about this?”
- Bless things and people on their way. Remember that life has seasons and stages. Change is natural, and sometimes that means relationships go in different directions or things fall away from your life.Learning to let go of what you cannot control is largely about releasing others to their own journeys, and thanking them for what they have contributed to yours.Assuming this fluid mindset will help to prevent the resentment and prolonged anguish that often accompany loss.
- Practice gratitude. There is nothing like being grateful for what you have to take your mind off what you wish you had or believe you should have. It is also perhaps the purest way to let go of what you can’t control, as your entire focus shifts to what has been provided for your life instead of what is lacking.
Learning to let go of what you cannot control takes practice, but like any skill worth learning (and this is definitely a skill worth learning) the effort you put in will serve you for the rest of your life.