I just dropped my daughter off for her third year in college. On the drive back home, I chatted with one of my favorite aunties. She’s not a biological aunt but was a good friend of my parents. She reminisced, as she often does, about when she and my parents would spend time in the country listening to music, barbecuing and swimming with us kids. The house she’s talking about was sold many years ago, and both my parents are deceased along with many of the family and friends who partied with us when I was a kid in the ‘70s.
I have a love/hate relationship with those memories. While they were good times, I find that too much reminiscing takes my mind away from enjoying the present. I wonder if it takes her mind away from creating a present that she enjoys deeply. We’ve all heard the term “the good old days,” as if life can never get better than at a fixed point in the past. It could be your senior year in high school, your wedding day or the day your first child was born.
One of the best happiness hacks I know is learning to let go, whether it’s your childhood, your ex-husband or your skinny jeans. Or, perhaps you just allow your kids to grow up.
Like molting snakes, every day we let go of the day before. Every season we release the previous season. As parents we watch our kids grow and leave the past behind them with speed. If we’re not careful, we might fight with our kids to stay little longer. We might beg our partners not to change. We might accuse our friends of changing. Or, we might make a commitment to ourselves to never change and “stay the same.” Change comes whether we want it to or not. Summer ends. The kids grow. We get older. The most satisfying jobs and strongest relationships change. Even our physical bodies change from moment to moment.
Here are 5 tips to help you let go when it’s time to move on:
- Find a purpose other than the one you’re most attached to. – If you’re a parent, start thinking about what you will do when your kids leave the nest. If you’re an employee, imagine what you will do when you retire. If you’re in an unsatisfying relationship, consider how you would spend your time if you made the decision to be single. Discover what interests you aside from your primary role so that when things change, you don’t feel lost. Spend some time in a bookstore or library or scroll through the Meetup app if you need ideas.
- Practice mindfulness. – Learn to live your life in the moment. You may have heard the expression, “The present is a gift.” It’s actually the only gift we can be certain of. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t save money or plan for the future. It simply means you should try to be aware of your life in the moment. For example, when you take a shower do you really notice the delightfulness of the warm water against your skin? When you take a walk do you notice the warmth of the sun and the tickle of wind? When you hug someone do you savor the moment or is it a quick pat on the back? When you eat, do you really pause to enjoy the taste, aroma and texture of your food? Learning to enjoy and be present in the moment is a game changer.
- Get still. – Stillness practices help with the big tasks like finding passion and purpose. Learn to meditate, start journaling or try a yoga nidra class. There are tons of online resources and many are outlined in my recent books, Thinking Outside the Chrysalis: A Black Woman’s Guide to Spreading Her Wings and 12 Steps to Mind-Blowing Happiness: A Journal of Insights, Quotes & Questions to Juice Up Your Journey.
- Develop your interests. – This might sound a bit like finding a purpose, but your interests might be quite different from your purpose. You might be motivated to do environmental work or feed the hungry but find your joy painting acrylics or growing food in your garden. There is an incredible amount of information available online for just about anything that interests you, so go for it!
- Be okay with mourning. – Just because you’re moving on doesn’t mean you can’t mourn your losses. Allow yourself to miss your college days, the kids living at home or your parents being alive. Feel what you feel as intensely as you need to then let it go. Feel free to revisit and reminisce as you please. When you build a present that sets your soul on fire, there’ll be no need to spend too much time in the past.
In my blog from October 2019, Rejoice in the Rattling, I talked about managing change as I moved out of my home of 12 years into a new apartment. At the time, one of my client’s had a magnet that said, “Let Go or Be Dragged.” I love that magnet. Change will happen no matter what you decide. I encourage you to learn to let go and reach for the beautiful journey that awaits you.
I wish you passion, purpose and the realization of your fullest potential!
P.S. The image is from Gianandrea Villa from Unsplash. The hot air balloon is such a beautiful image of letting go. If you want to see my client’s magnet and check out my previous blog, click the button below!