Once You Let Go Of These 7 Things, You Can Be Happy Again

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happy woman

I used to think that living a more joyful life was a game of addition, one that meant I filled my time with enriching activities, like trying new classes, learning kundalini yoga, and reading every self-help book in print; and while, yes, there are many practices and new things we can try that will enhance our well-being, one of the biggest keys to living more joyful, awesome lives is to be willing to let go of things in your search for how to be happy again.

Here are 7 specific mindsets, patterns, and perceptions that, when released, leave us feeling happier and more peaceful.

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1. Grievances

The spiritual text A Course in Miracles says Love holds no grievances. I keep this quote as wallpaper on my phone as a reminder to release negative thoughts I have that keep me from feeling peaceful.

We all have grievances: Someone acts in a way that is manipulative or does something unfair, and we complain about him or her in our mind for days. Being willing to release grievances doesn't mean that we pretend the other person is a saint, but rather, that we don't let his action ruin our day.

By reminding ourselves that love holds no grievances, we can choose to accept that the other person has acted in a way that is unfair, but we're not going to hold that story and resentment in our hearts for months or years.

Here's a helpful prayer from A Course in Miracles: behind this is a miracle to which I am entitled. Let me not hold a grievance against you, [name[, but offer you the miracle that belongs to you instead. Seen truly, this offers me a miracle.

2. Unwillingness to Change

If we want our life to change, we have to change. We can't cling to our perceptions, patterns, and behaviors and expect our life to be different.

For example, if we've been single for years, but we're unwilling to try online dating, it would serve us to give it a shot. If we've fought with a family member for years, we can't approach that relationship the same way and expect it to be different. Something new has to occur for any change to happen.

Instead of criticizing that child who never does anything right, try complimenting him. Instead of nagging our romantic partner, we can choose to focus on his positive qualities. Instead of thinking there's no way to find a better job, we can open up to new possibilities; maybe we move or change industries.

3. Limiting Beliefs

A limiting belief is any negative thought we continue to think that doesn't serve us. Some common ones are: I'll never get out of debt. There are no good men in this city. I'm too old to change careers. There's no such thing as loving relationships anymore. I'm not good enough to be a fill-in-the-blank. 

Limiting beliefs tend to be hyperbolic in nature, using words like never, or making broad generalizations as to why something is an impossibility. They fill our lives with no's and keep us our purpose. We must be willing to let them go, even when our current life circumstances suggest that they are, in fact, true.

We can shift, and instead, think: My friend Samantha is in a loving relationship, so it's possible. Lots of people change careers and make it work, so why can't I? I'm working at my craft and getting better and better at it every day. Life is full of surprises. 

Every yes we believe is a possible relationship or situation that we invite into our life. From every yes comes a new adventure, a friendship we could never have imagined, or a talent we didn't know we had. When we let go of limiting beliefs, doors open and our lives change.

4. Victim Mindset

When we complain, people commiserate with us; we use our negative life circumstances as a tool for bonding with others who are similarly negative. Further, we receive sympathy. Poor you! You're sick! Your partner left you! Oh, what a shame! You deserve better! 

Like children, we overdramatize our pain as a way of receiving attention. While the attention feels good, it doesn't serve us because it keeps us in a state of helplessness.

We must be willing to let go of our victim mindset, and instead, choose to feel empowered. I'm sick, but I'm getting better every day. My relationship ended, but only because I'm going to meet someone even better. It's only when we feel empowered that we can make real changes in our life. 

RELATED: 6 Quotes To Inspire You To Take Action (And Get You Out Of Victim Mode)

5. The Past

The past is gone. Let it go. That person's gone. Our childhood is over. That situation that wasn't fair happened last year. What good will it do to carry it around? How will it serve us to continually replay the past, bringing it up in conversations, and keeping feelings of resentment, anger, and sadness in our hearts? That will only lead to physical sickness, stress, and depression. Instead, we can choose to forgive and release the past. 

Here's a helpful meditation we can do if we want to stop lamenting about a hurtful situation or relationship that we can't get over:

  1. Sit upright in a comfortable position, either in silence or with soft wordless music in the background (there are lots of reiki or meditation music videos that can be streamed on YouTube).
  2. Imagine a white light entering at the top of your head and slowly filling your body with light: feel it pass through your neck, arms, chest, belly, legs, and feet. As it passes, imagine that it is clearing out out resentment or anger that you are holding.
  3. Repeat the following mantra: The past is gone, and I release it. If there is a particular person whom you have negative feelings towards, end this meditation by imagining that the light is surrounding that person. Say in your mind: I forgive you, and I send you love. I am willing to forgive and release our past. 

The happiest people are the ones who let go of the past easily. It doesn't mean that they don't go through hurtful and unfair situations, but rather, they refuse to hold on to the pain. We can choose to let it go, not for the other person, but for ourselves.

6. The Thought that the Present Moment Should be Different

He shouldn't have said that. I shouldn't be here. This person shouldn't be in my face right now, making requests. I shouldn't be sitting in traffic. I shouldn't have to be on this line; it's so long! In our minds, we constantly fight the current moment, wishing it were different.

All that brings us is frustration! We can choose to let the moment be exactly as it is. Instead, we can think, Well, he just said something mean to me. Oh well, there are lots of mean people. So what? While I'm in traffic, I'm going to make the most of the time I have and listen to an empowering video. This line isn't moving. So what. Is it really that big of a deal?

Being mindful means we give up fighting the present moment. It doesn't mean that we pretend it isn't happening, but rather, that we accept it.

7. Criticism & Self-Judgment

When we become aware of the negative voice in our mind - the one that tells us that we don't look good enough, don't have the right car, or a house that is big enough, or if only our thighs were a little smaller, then we'd be happy - we suffer. Sadness comes as a result of the thoughts we think. We can choose our thoughts, just as we choose the clothes we put on in the morning.

When the critical chatter in our mind starts up, turn it around: I'm beautiful just as I am! My thighs are fine! My house is perfect as it is; so what if it's not as big as my friend Susan's! 

When we release negative thought patterns and beliefs, our life shifts.

We attract more positive and healthy relationships. We try things we would never have imagined we could be successful at, and we find that even when we are in less than ideal circumstances, we are able to keep our peace; and all of those things make our life much, much more awesome.

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Jessie Leon writes about mindful living, relationships, and spirit on Rebel Hippie Soul. Follow her on Instagram.

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This article was originally published at Rebel Hippie Soul. Reprinted with permission from the author.