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“We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”– Joseph Campbell
The Simple Sophisticate, episode #41
While the undeniable life truth remains that change is inevitable, even when we seek change, fervently pursue it, letting go of certain aspects of the life we’ve been living can feel as though we are leaving behind our “Linus blanket“.
Whether it’s the comfort of being accepted in the community we currently live in, the comfort of the walls we’ve built to protect our heart or the comfort of a social calendar that may not have been to our taste, but at least we have one, letting go of what we have known for what is completely uncertain can cause angst in even the most courageous of people.
At the beginning of 2015, the first post of the year focused on the premise of getting back to simple. As Einstein reminds, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” And part of striking the right balance is letting go of the unnecessary which in turn invokes change in our lives on our own terms for the purpose of improving the overall quality of life. And in the same vein, knowing what to always hang on to – the foundational components – will give our lives the sound structure and direction that will bring fulfillment.
Let Go Of:
1. Others’ Opinions
It has been my experience that when I am unsure of myself, abilities and path, I seek approval from others more readily and often. The lesson? Take the time to get to know yourself, hone your strengths and in doing so you will begin to approve of yourself and that is all that matters. (Discover a more in-depth discussion on the importance of seeking your own approval here.)
2. The Number of Likes
Social media accounts offer wonderful ways to stay in touch and share information, but similar to #1, if your value or confidence depends on outside approval, you need to begin doing work on the inside: Mental strength, self-acceptance and self-knowledge.
3. The Size of Your House
Many people believe they need a large house because they have many people for whom they will have to house or they have an immense amount of stuff. The fact of the matter is, Americans have lived in far smaller homes in the past with just as many people (often more). Two years ago this post provoked great discussion on the benefits of living in a smaller home.
4. Societal Expectations That Shrink Who You Are and Could Be
“Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.”– Raymond Lindquist
Many people want to, but few choose to find the courage to walk to the beat of their own drum when they realize to do otherwise would diminish who they are and what they have to offer. Be brave. We all are capable of discovering the courage within us because it is there just waiting to be exercised.
5. A Busy Schedule
Inevitably there will be times when your life becomes harried because a confluence occurs of all of your life priorities, but allowing this to be an everyday occurrence speaks more of what each of us lacks in life and are afraid to confront. Read this post about the need to let go of busy.
6. Brand Name Clothing
The only reason I buy Diane von Furstenberg clothing is because it aligns with my signature style: quality, chic, casual attire (and it has to be on sale). However, to buy a pair of heels for the red soles or a handbag for the entwining Cs so everyone can see you owning/wearing them is to reveal your dependence on the approval of others. (See #1.)
7. Fake Food
Not only will your waistline thank you, but your long-term physical health and especially your mind. Click here to find a list of foods to let go of and ones to indulge in.
8. Comparing Social Calendars
If you are secure and loving the life you are living, to hear that a dear friend is going to roam around the world should be exciting, celebratory news. On the flip side, to have friends who are secure in their lives enough to be excited for your adventures, are friendships you want to nurture. So be sure to travel or not to travel, go out or not go out, for the right reasons.
9. The Latest Tech Upgrade
Everyone’s life will require certain tech capabilities, but let go of the need to be seen with the latest release of the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. In so doing you will be able to use that money for other more enjoyable investments.
10. Where Someone Gained Their Education
Whether a public college or a prestigious Ivy League institution or a trade school in proximity to where you grew up, where someone chose or was financially able to advance their training of the career they wish to pursue shouldn’t matter in the least. It is one’s willingness to learn, ability to grow and apply successfully their knowledge along with their passion and work ethic, that should catch our attention. So look not at the place of degree, but rather to someone’s expertise and passionate pursuit.
11. Mode of Transportation
Perhaps this is bigger out here on the west coast, but the only reason one should pay attention to their choice of transportation is to ensure functionality and safety. Beyond that, save your money and don’t forget to change your oil regularly (if your mode of transport is a car).
12. Past Mistakes
“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”– Steve Maraboli
We each leave behind us a textbook full of lessons we have the opportunity to learn from as we move forward, but learning from them and dwelling on them are two different things. When we revert to dwelling, we are longing for a chance to rewrite history – a chance, we undoubtedly know will never materialize. Rather when we chose to learn from history, we are accepting our past, remembering we are human and moving forward with more knowledge.
What to Hold On To
Just as there are clear things to let go of, there are specific items to hold onto with absolute resolution:
To remain curious, as Diane Sawyer reminds, is to never grow old. For there will always be something new to learn and will serve as a fire you never want to extinguish.
2. Books, Information, Etc.
Whether a book checked out from the library or a news article read in Feedly, voluntarily choose to be well read and in the know. Click here for the benefits of staying abreast of current affairs and here for the benefits of reading.
You have something to offer the world that no one else has. Take the time to discover it, have the courage to cultivate it and pursue it without apology. Your life and legacy will be more fulfilling as a result.
4. Your Unique Path
People often scoff, question or try to thwart ideas they don’t understand or due to their experience, couldn’t imagine for themselves. As humans we consciously view the world from our limited perspective. Knowing this should lift the burden as you pursue and cultivate the life you have imagined.
Being thankful for what is going well keeps the positive energy flowing through each of our days, motivates us to be more positive by default and is a magnet for more experiences and people to be thankful for.
Often too, when we spend our time being thankful for what we do have, we don’t pursue so often what we don’t need. Which as a byproduct eliminates unnecessary stress as well.
Never lose the fuel that will carry you right up to the moment you weren’t sure would ever happen.
Without question, life, if lived consciously, isn’t always easy, but there are many ways we make it harder than it needs to be.
All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”– Havelock Ellis
Strip the unnecessary and revel in the beautiful.
While yes, quite simple, it requires conscious effort on our part. The key is to recognize what supports you as you courageously choose to be authentically who you are and have the capability to become and what aligns with your life priorities. Everything else is just filler. Even in choosing what to hold on to and what to let go of, notice which list is longer. Quality and quantity prevails again.