6 Things To Let Go Of To Increase Joy In Your Life

Written by Elizabeth Spevack

Sometimes we hold on to beliefs and behaviors long after they stop serving us, if they ever did.

Here are six areas to let go of in order to live a happier life:

1. Striving to be perfect

Trying to be the best you can be? Amazing! Trying to be perfect? Humanly impossible. Trying to achieve the impossible leaves you feeling tired, discouraged and like it’s hopeless. Then you will either exhaust yourself trying to get there or just give up trying at all. Aim for the high goal, not the impossible.

2. Putting others before your own needs

As a human, one of your key roles is to be there for other people and to help them. This doesn’t mean that you should try to satisfy everyone else’s needs at the expense of your own well-being. By all means, do what you can to help others, but also set some limits to minimize exhaustion and maybe some feelings of resentment too.

3. Trying to live up to external measures of success

Many people measure success by looks, wealth, job title and where you live. So what happens when these things don’t make you happy? What if you describe success by fulfillment, contribution and connection – or something else? Let go of how other people measures success and instead try to develop measures that are meaningful to you.

4. Trying to do it all

Somewhere along the line, you might have started believing that you should be able to do it all. You look at others who seem to get so much done and even have a smile on their faces. You start wondering what their secret is and thinking that if they can do it, there’s no reason you can’t do it too.

5. Agonizing over mistakes of the past

Some moments from the past seem to take on a life of their own, whether it’s something you said or did – or something you didn’t say or do. It can be easy to remember something you did in the past and hold on to it, not forgiving yourself. Carrying around that guilt and shame will just keep you stuck in the past and will weigh you down. Instead, focus on the lessons you can learn from that experience.

6. Focusing on the "shoulds" and the "shouldn't"

“I should lose weight.” “I should be able to get more done.” “I should eat better.” “I should be more grateful.” “I shouldn’t feel so sad.” “I should exercise more.” Do any of these sound familiar? Yes, it might be helpful to exercise more and work more quickly, but do you feel any better telling yourself all these "shoulds"? Does it actually change your behavior? Or does it make you feel worse about yourself? Remind yourself why these behaviors matter to you in the first place. What is so important about them for you? And what small, consistent, practical steps can you take to move in that direction starting today?

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