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Research reveals that positive thinking can lead to an abundant and happy life.
Barbara Fredrickson, Psychology Researcher at the University of North Carolina, found that when people experience positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love, they also see more possibilities in their lives.
Sounds great, but you’re probably wondering…
How can I start thinking more positively to ultimately live a happier life?
In order to start thinking positively, you need to let go of negative thoughts and feelings that are holding you back. Here’s 10 things you need to let go of right now to shift your thinking from negative to positive, and start living the happy life you deserve.
1. Let go of your grudges.
You do not have to accept every bad thing that has been done to you (or any of it, actually), but you do have to learn how to forgive and move on. That does not mean saying the other person was right or what they did was okay. It just means releasing the negative energy you are carrying everywhere with you so you have the freedom to move forward and create a happy life for yourself.
According to the Mayo Clinic, letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for a happier, healthier life.
Forgiveness can lead to:
- Healthier relationships
- Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
- Less anxiety, stress, and hostility
- Lower blood pressure
- Fewer symptoms of depression
- Stronger immune system
- Improved heart health
- Higher self-esteem
2. Let go of your comparisons.
When you look enviously at what you think other people have, you will always be dissatisfied. The worst part is, the version of reality you are creating in your head may not even have any basis.
You know the old saying, ‘the grass isn’t always greener.’ Your neighbor might have a bigger and better house and car, but for all you know, it has come at the cost of a happy marriage. Your coworker may be climbing the corporate ladder faster than you, but she may also have cancer. That artist in your online community may appear to be selling a thousand things, but he may be misrepresenting himself.
Be grateful for the things you do have, and realize there are so many reasons you may not be seeing the big picture. There are things you have that other people don’t. Plus, other people are not you. Whatever they have—or do not have—ultimately makes no impact on what you have or don’t.
In the book Emotional Freedom by Judith Orloff, M.D., Judith discusses comparing ourselves to others and how it can come from low self-esteem and lack of belief in the integrity of our own unique path. This book will assist in the realization that your life is explicitly designed for your own growth, which will allow you to let go of your comparisons so you can enjoy a happy life.
3. Let go of ideals you no longer hold.
Beliefs change, and so do ideals, objectives, and goals. You do not have to hold on to the things you believed ten years ago when you have no reason to believe in them anymore. You do not have to have the same goals you did when you were 10 or 20.
You are free to change your course.
When you release yourself from obligations to your past self, you may actually discover new ways of rewarding the person you used to be. Even when you change, what you are now is a direct outgrowth of what you were. That process of transformation is beautiful, and honors the “then” as much as the “now.”
4. Let go of the idea that you don’t fit in.
Fitting in isn’t about changing who you are to fit a mold. It is often about realizing there may be a place for you just as you are, and that the people around you are more diverse than they first appear. While that isn’t always the case, it’s true more often than you might think. If you worry constantly about not being “normal” or “good enough,” you were probably raised to have those insecurities. It doesn’t make them true.
The point is, you shouldn’t have to change yourself to fit in in order to create a happy life. In fact, it’s possible to find people in your city that share the same passions as you, as ‘not so normal’ as your passions may seem. Whether you’re passionate about writing, being a mom, rock climbing, or science, someone near you is bound to share your passion; you’ve just got to put yourself out there and find them!
Quick Tip: Try sites like Meetup.com or Besomebody.com to find people who share your passions.
5. Let go of thinking you don’t deserve happiness.
If you were invalidated in your childhood, you probably were brought up on a diet of guilt and self-contempt. You do not need to feel guilty just for being yourself, though. Remember that no matter who you are and who you were, you would have been raised with the same invalidation. It has nothing to do with you.
Other people cannot decide for us that we deserve a happy life. Only you can make the choice to love and respect yourself. Whoever and whatever you are, if you are living by the truth in your heart, you deserve love. If others do not agree, then it’s time to let them go.
6. Let go of toxic people.
Some people are poisonous because they are openly malicious. Others are more subtle and root for our failure without even realizing it, because of their own envies or insecurities. Ultimately, you are not responsible for any other person’s emotions. You are responsible to act with respect and care and decency. If you do that and another person still wants you to fail—but insists on being in your life—you are entirely within your rights to let them go.
We already have enough toxic beliefs telling us what to think and feel. Don’t let negative people continue to contribute to your inner monologue. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in you and truly want you to be happy.
7. Let go of needing others to like, accept, and understand you.
That does not mean that you should not expect respect and appreciation from those closest to you. Friends and partners and other “chosen relationships” don’t deserve to be in your life if they cannot. But they do not have to understand you totally to respect you and accept you. Nor do they even have to like everything about you to love you. What matters is that they support you.
As to those relationships you didn’t choose—relatives, parents, siblings, neighbors, coworkers, bosses, society as a whole, and so on—they do not need to like, accept, or understand you for you to like, accept, and understand yourself. Waiting on their respect or support to embrace your true nature can be a long wait for a train that doesn’t come.
Test Yourself: Social media is a huge part of our lives these days. Ironically, it can really suck the life out of us. If you truly want to stop caring what others think about you and your personal life, delete your social media accounts for a period of time. Falling off of the face of the web for awhile may be just what you need in order to create a happy life that you’re happy with.
8. Let go of impossible standards.
If you were one of those people who expected to become a millionaire by age 30 and instead find you are struggling to get by on a few thousand dollars, let go of those impossible standards and forgive yourself for not being superhuman. Nobody is, and there is no such thing as a self-made person. The reality is, we have been living during tough economic times.
You do not have to be superhuman in order to be a great person and live a happy life. And, it isn’t what you were given that determines who you are, but what you do with what you have.
Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals will lead to a happy life. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. The key in this example is attainable. Ask yourself, “Is this goal realistic and attainable?” If not, erase those impossible goals, and head back to the drawing board.
9. Let go of the idea that life must be fair to be good.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if life was fair and goodness, decency, and honesty were rewarded? Wouldn’t it be great if being talented and insightful meant success and a happy life was inevitable? Wouldn’t it be amazing if supreme dedication and determination were rewarded?
We do not live in that world. Amazing people fail every day. We all know someone wonderful who died too young, or someone talented whose work is forgotten by the wayside by everyone but them. We also all know cruel, immoral people who soar to great heights.
That does not mean that the universe is a terrible place, or that your own life is going to be a terrible one. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people, but not every time. And all your rage will not make the universe any fairer. But maybe you can make your little corner of it fairer, by being good, decent, and true to the people you love. Life is unfair, but you can be fair. You can make someone else happy who deserves it.
10. Let go of the need to feel like you are comfortable all of the time.
So much of our daily stress and fear comes from the idea that being uncomfortable is necessarily bad. But being comfortable isn’t really that great when it holds you back from happiness, is it? Stepping outside of your comfort zone is tough at first, but the more you do it, the more you will discover than being uncomfortable is not necessarily the same thing as being unsafe.
In the book Get Out of Your Comfortzone by Sascha Ballach, you’ll be given the necessary knowledge and also a lot of practical exercises that will help you to develop your personality and to realize and extend your potential beyond your comfort zone.
With this book, you’ll be able to let go of the idea that being uncomfortable is negative, and you will finally have the ability to liberate yourself to really grow as a person. You will never launch that new company, come out of the closet and marry your sweetheart, or write that novel until you do. Don’t be afraid to make other people uncomfortable either. Say what you were put on this earth to say. Live the life you were meant to live.
Letting go is never easy, and picking up the pieces or adjusting to a new perspective can be very hard. But that’s exactly why #10 is perhaps the most important item on this list! Once you let go of #10, you will find it so much easier to let go of everything else that is holding you back from a truly happy life!