Let Go to Live Greatly

September 21, 2012

 “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases from being shared.” ~The Buddha


We know the importance of happiness in our lives. We want it, we pray for it. How do we get it? What would that look like in my life, and what do I need to let go of to have it?

I recently stopped to contemplate what happiness really is, at least in my opinion. When I think of happiness I think of children running around on a playground having fun, with no thoughts or cares. Simple bliss and joy. No attachments, just love. We tend to think that this simple happiness cannot exist in the “real” world. What I often overlook is that it is possible and absolutely necessary to bring this sense of contentment into our lives as adults. Just because we add responsibility, and sometimes hardships, into our lives, doesn’t mean the happiness goes away. Happiness is a choice, a state of mind. Happiness is letting go of attachments and expectations.

As we go through the motions of daily life, do we choose to have a positive, encouraging outlook? Or, are we always looking at the dark side of a situation and feeling bad for ourselves? Do we base our happiness on the acts and thoughts of others? Are we only happy when people live up to our expectations? For many of us, myself included, it’s easy to default to unhappiness and dissatisfaction. It’s what we’re used to, it’s what we’re comfortable with and how we’re conditioned to act. “I’m not happy because my boss works me too hard.” “I’m upset because my spouse doesn’t give me enough attention.” “My best friend let me down, she clearly doesn’t care enough about me.” “I’m stressed out because my kids are acting out.” We place the blame on the external situations instead of looking inward and finding the happiness deep inside ourselves. We hold on to people and material things because we think that those things will ultimately make us happy. What’s important to remember is that everything in the external world changes, nothing is constant; this is why you must rely on your internal Self for true, authentic happiness and joy.

When we are truly happy with our own lives, external hardships and disappointments will be just blips that cannot shake the blissful being that you really are.

So, how can we shift to become these happy beings? Take small steps of adding in positivity and letting go of what we can’t control:

-You are what you think: Replace the negative thoughts that do not serve us with more uplifting ones.
-Everything has a purpose and a lesson to be learned: Remind ourselves that people and situations come to us for specific reasons, whether good or bad, learn what you can from the people and situations in your life.
The Practice: Incorporate meditation and mantra repetition into your life to calm the mind when it starts to really get out of control.

Let go of…

-Expectations of events or people
-Controlling other people’s thoughts or beliefs
-Attachments to outcomes
-Things you can’t control

Finally, always remember that the happiness that you instill in yourself may inspire the spark to light up happiness in someone else. You never know on any given day how you may change the world.

Imagine what it would be like if we all lived day to day from a peaceful, happy place.

What are some of the most difficult things for you to leg go of? What do you do on a daily basis to maintain happiness?

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