Let it go

Sorry for all you Frozen fans, this post will not be about the beloved movie, but I do have it on my list of films to watch. Letting things go can make you a happier person. It seems pretty simple, but we all tend to harbor a little resentment about something, maybe hold a grudge over something that happened years ago, or can’t shake that angry feeling after being cut off in traffic. Unfortunately, even though you may be right in your feelings at the time, it doesn’t impact the other person the way it does you.

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My husband says I will die on my principles. He also says that sometimes I spend too much energy trying to prove a point. Anyone else do this? When I know I’m right, I want to make sure that others do, too. In fact, I rarely shout out answers unless I am 150% sure that I’m correct. But when I’m not listened to, not given credit, or someone argues (when I KNOW I am right), I tend to get ready for battle on the subject and continue trying to prove the point. I am also a sharer. Over the weekend, I shared a terrible experience with a local Charlotte Photographer. This photographer asked me to model some poses for her so she could practice them, and in exchange she would give me free headshots. Felt like a good trade-off at the time. I spent almost two hours in her home studio on February 23, 2014. I waited until March 3rd to ask her when I might get the photos and she responded that I would have them by the weekend (3/7). Without going through all the details and multiple times I attempted to contact her after that without response, I decided to share the story on social media. Upon doing so, I found others who had similar experiences with this photographer and also found reviews online of her poor communication and terrible customer service. The social media got her attention (as it often does). Within an hour, I had 9 shares of one tweet to almost 2500 followers. How’s that for a PR nightmare for a small business? My goal was not to cause the nightmare for her, it was to bring attention to how she was treating me (and other customers), and to get her attention on the subject. She responded (threatening legal action for my libelous truthful comments) and told me that she had lost my images and wouldn’t be able to provide them. She did offer a new session and that I could sit there while she edited the photos and get them then and there. A) I don’t have time for that B) I don’t care to work with her and C) I don’t think her work could be that good based on the rest of her business practices. The point is not about the photographer here, the point is about how much time and energy I wasted on this person. Time, reviews and word of mouth will sink her business, and I didn’t need to spend part of my weekend putting forth the effort I did. My husband told me to let it go and if I still wanted headshots, go to someone who is a little more professional and just pay fo them (great idea!).

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It’s not just with the photographer that I do this. If I have a bad day, I tend to think (and over think) what happened, who was involved and who should be responsible. I think we’re all a little guilty of this on some level. In order to be happy, we have to let go of those moments that steal our happiness. Let go of bad days, angry phone calls with your cable company, that driver who swerved in front of you, the TSA agent who slowed you down, and be more forgiving overall. Try to understand where others are coming from before you get worked up or upset. A lot of times we interpret things differently than the person speaking to us meant them. Maybe that text that said “fine” actually meant “that’s a good plan. I’m fine with it!” and not that they hated the idea. Trying not to jump to conclusions can help with our attitude and level of happiness. Try to assume that people always have the best intentions (without being completely naive), and see how that effects your outlook. Try to let go of any grudges you may be holding onto. Forgive people, especially for those things that really no longer matter. The longer you hold onto something, the more important it seems, but in reality, it’s just a tiny blip on your map of life. Just has happiness trumps money, happiness wins in the attitude arena. Take a deep breath, stop proving points until you’re short of breath, forgive, spend your energy doing something you love instead, and let it go.

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Choosing Happiness

I’ve been reading a lot of books on marriage, happiness, change and if anything has resonated with me it’s that you can CHOOSE to be HAPPY. When something doesn’t go your way, you have the option to huff and puff, tell everyone you know about it and be worked up for the rest of the day, or you can choose to not let it bring you down. In reality, that person who uploaded something incorrectly for you on the form that you created, probably just did it wrong and wasn’t actually trying to sabotage your work. Maybe the person who cut you off on your drive to work wasn’t trying to cause an accident but was running late because their kid forgot their lunch box and they had to go home and get it. Trying to focus on the big picture can help you determine if that one incident really matters and if it should send your day in a downward spiral. I’m guessing 95% of the time, it won’t matter in a week and your heart would be better off if you hadn’t spend that time griping about it.

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I’m working on doing what makes me happy. We all have a lot of things that have to get done, but we don’t have to spend all of our time doing those and none doing what will brighten our lives until we’re done with the “have-to” list. It should be a compromise on how we spend our time. For me, there’s nothing better than a good run. If I had to make a list of other ways to get instant happiness in my life, I’d say:

  1. A dinner/movie date with my husband (or a cuddle session with one of the dogs if hubs is out of town)
  2. A spontaneous weekend escape to the beach
  3. A pedicure and/or massage
  4. Hot yoga (even better after a run)
  5. A catch-up session with a friend

Spending time working on your own happiness is imperative to achieving it. Obviously, there will be moments where you won’t be happy (and shouldn’t be) but in the times where it’s a choice to either let something slide or think on it all day, choosing to let it slide will get you to happiness 100 times faster. I’m making a deal with my husband to only talk about the good things that happened in a day for a week, and not complaining about the bad. Sometimes sharing feels good, but you’re not only letting other people thing you’re miserable, you tend to bring them down too.

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If you’re up for reading some excellent books on happiness, I recommend:

  1. The Happiness Project (Gretchin Rubin)  *follow up with Happier at Home if you need more!
  2. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (Richard Carlson)
  3. Happy Wives Club (Fawn Weaver)

And my next book is “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie (thanks, Lo).

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Removing things from your life that make you unhappy is okay. You can’t make someone else want to be happy (although, I am still working on trying to find a way to do this). Spending time around negative energy doesn’t do anything positive for your own mental state. Happiness is a choice we make every day. When you wake up, tell yourself it is going to be a good day – and mean it. Do things that will make you happy throughout the day. Start with a breakfast that will give you energy (and is healthy!), take a walk if you need a break at work, have lunch with your other half or a friend (getting out of the office for lunch is a MUST – even if you’re eating what you packed at a picnic table – just don’t set at your desk!), plan time to workout or walk in the evening, do some stretching or reading to relax at night. Do whatever makes YOU happy. Life’s too short to not be happy.