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Thursday, May 10, 2012

15 Things you should give up to be happy

This post is adapted from purposefairy and The Rules of Life by Richard Templar. I have also substantiated the contents with my own notes.

I have been reading up a lot on inspirational texts, be it in the form of books, articles or from online sources and have been enriching myself in ways beyond my imagination. I am gradually trying to be a better person and to also try to use my influence and new-found positivism on the people around me.

By observing people and substantiating my limited knowledge with reading, I come to realise that people in general fall broadly into two camps:

  • those who seem to have mastered the skill for successful living
  • those who still find it a bit of a struggle trying to get there

Successful in this case is not about amassing lots of wealth or being at the top rung in the corporate ladder but rather, people who are living life contentedly and getting the most out of life.

How do we get to the level of the former requires no knowledge of quantum physics but rather, good old-fashioned common sense. Yet many a times as what Voltaire once uttered “Common sense is not so common”, it is also rather difficult to practise.

The secret to being contented boils down to making a simple choice. We can all choose to do certain things every day of our lives. Some things we choose to do would make us unhappy and some things we choose to do would make us happier. By following a few basic steps, we tend to be able to shrug off adversity more easily, get more out of life and spread a little positivity to the rest as we go.

Here is a list of 15 things which, if we give up on them, will make our lives a lot easier and much, much happier.

1. Give up your need to always be right.

There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong – wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It’s just not worth it.

Whenever you feel the ‘urgent’ need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question:

“Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?” -- Wayne Dyer.

What difference will that make? Is your ego really that big?

From personal experience, I have dealt with situations when people are not willing to admit their wrong doings or to apologize. They insist that conflict is due to one person’s fault without realizing it takes two hands to clap.

Apologizing does not always mean that you are wrong and that the other party is right. It just means that you value the relationship more than your ego.

We say sorry because we are sorry. We are sorry to have become embroiled in an argument or any sort. We say sorry first because we are noble, kind, dignified, sensible and mature. We can say sorry and still be strong.

Learning from past experience with my husband, being the first to apologize certainly has many benefits. It gives me the moral advantage, diffuses tension, gets rid of bad feelings and once all those are done, it is much easier to clear the air. On a few instances after I apologized first, my hubby was humbled into apologizing as well. Well, not always. But most of the time.

2. Give up your need for control.

Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are your loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street – just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel.

If you really feel the compelling need to control, bear this in mind:
Change what you can change and let go of the rest.

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” -- Lao Tzu

3. Give up on blame.

Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life.

“When you blame others, you give up your power to change.” -- Dr. Robert Anthony

All of us love playing the Blame Game. I do that too but I often tell myself to refrain from playing the Blame Game. What has happened has already happened and there is no use pointing the finger at anyone. We cannot change what has happened to us or control others but we can take responsibilities for our own reaction, action, responses and start putting our lives together.

From my experience with friends and other people I know of, some people blame their parents for who they are and where they ended up. Some continue this blame and resentment into adulthood.

Our parents do the best they can. It might not be good enough for you, but it is still the best they could do. They can’t be blamed if they weren’t very good at it. I believe that even though parenting plays a major part in shaping who we are, we are ultimately individuals with our own mind and we have the ability to change our lives. Holding on to resentment and not forgiving or making an effort to restore things is absolutely pointless. Forgive them and move on. You can rise above your upbringing.

4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk.

How many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? Don’t believe everything that your mind is telling you – especially if it’s negative and self-defeating. You are better than that.

“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.” -- Eckhart Tolle

Stop bashing yourself and learn to accept yourself. That means accepting all warts and emotional lumps and bumps, the weaknesses and the rest of it. Accept the way we are initially and slowly build up on it. Once you have picked up the gauntlet of accepting yourself, you would be well on the path of self improvement. You are doing the best you can at this point of time so give yourself a pat on the back and press on.

5. Give up your limiting beliefs

Give up your limiting beliefs about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. There are many people who seriously limit their beliefs and dreams. There should be no limit to beliefs and dreams. Plans have to be realistic; beliefs and dreams do not.

From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Spread your wings and fly!

“A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind.” -- Elly Roselle

6. Give up complaining.

Give up your constant need to complain about those many, many, things – people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.

7. Give up the luxury of criticism.

Give up your need to criticize things, events or people that are different than you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. We all want to be happy, we all want to love and be loved and we all want to be understood. We all want something, and something is wished by us all.

It is very easy to moan, to complain, and to criticize. It is much harder to always find something nice to say about a situation or a person. No matter how horrible someone is, there is always something about them that is good. Find that good bit and highlight it. It is the same with a situation that seems troublesome.

And if all else fails and you really can’t think of anything positive to say, then don’t say anything at all.

8. Give up your need to impress others.

Stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not just to make others like you. It doesn’t work this way. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not, the moment you take off all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly.

9. Give up your resistance to change.

Change is good. Change will help you move from A to B. Change will help you make improvements in your life and also the lives of those around you. Follow your bliss, embrace change – don’t resist it.

As tiny complex human beings in a vast complex world, the world is constantly changing and we need to adapt ourselves to fit in. If you are resistant to change, how can you move on and grow? Don't look at change with fear but as a way to learn or adapt to something new.

See life as a series of adventures. Each adventure is a chance to have fun, learn something, explore the world, expand your circle of experience and friends and broaden your horizons. Resisting to change means shutting down your adventure which means you shut yourself down.

10. Give up labels.

Labels are for clothes.

Stop labelling those things, people or events that you don’t understand as being weird or different and try opening your mind, little by little. Minds only work when open.

“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

Likewise, you should also never attach a 'label' to yourself. We are all different and we should embrace those differences instead of attaching 'negative' labels to one another.

11. Give up on your fears.

Fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t exist – you created it. It’s all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall into place.

There should be nothing in this life that you are afraid of. If there is, you need to overcome that fear.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

12. Give up your excuses.

Send them packing and tell them they’re fired. You no longer need them. A lot of times we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses – excuses that 99.9% of the time are not even real.

13. Give up the past.

Whatever the past was, it’s gone. There is nothing you can do to change something that has gone and instead you should focus on here and now. You might be tempted to dwell on the past either because it was bad or it was wonderful. Either way, leave it behind as the only way to live is in the present.

If you are dwelling on your past because of regrets and guilt, you will only be damaging yourself. We have all made bad decisions that have adversely affected ourselves or the people around us. What we can do is to acknowledge that we have screwed up and to resolve not to repeat the same pattern.

Conversely if you are revisiting your past glory days, learn to appreciate the beautiful memories but move on at the same time. We have to learn how to leave the good stuff behind and put our efforts into finding new avenues to explore and new glories to discover.

Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. After all life is a journey not a destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now.

Live here, live now, live in this moment.

14. Give up attachment.

This is a concept that, for most of us is so hard to grasp. It is hard but it is not something impossible. You get better and better at with time and practice.

The moment you detach yourself from all things, (and that doesn’t mean you give up your love for them – because love and attachment have nothing to do with one another, attachment comes from a place of fear, while love… well, real love is pure, kind, and self less, where there is love there can’t be fear, and because of that, attachment and love cannot coexist) you become so peaceful, so tolerant, so kind, and so serene. You will get to a place where you will be able to understand all things without even trying.

For example, it’s easy to see how we are attached to other people, truly believing that our happiness somehow depends on them. We can also easily see how we are attached to food, pleasure, or comfort. We maintain the belief that our emotional well-being is inextricably linked to having what we believe will make us happy. But holding these beliefs guarantees that we cannot be deeply satisfied, because we will always be anxious at the thought of losing what we believe makes us happy. If we wish to be really happy, we have to give up our attachments.

15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations.

Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what society thinks is best for them, to what others like their parents, teachers, friends etc think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need and eventually they forget about themselves.

You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.


  1. Great post Jo! There's a lot to digest. As I read through, I found people popping into my mind. Some who live by what you wrote and some who suffer because they don't. Sometimes I wonder if my wife loves me or is just attached...I guess that's a fear I need to let go. =)

  2. Really enjoyed this post!! I needed it really! Thanks. I'm not sure about the malware thing, I only see it when I use my google chrome browser and not any of my other ones, so I'm not sure what it is. Will keep trying to figure it out. I even changed the password just in case. Hopefully figure it out. Hope you are doing well :) xx

  3. Jo: This is a great read and inspiring. I agree x 15 times. Wish i coukd let go or give up as easily as turning on and off a switch. I dont believe anyone can do all 15 points but achieving a few points would suffice a certain level of satisfactory and happiness in life.

    Now let see what i have acheived by Most of the time happiness and sadness come from within, it makes a huge difference how people deal with situation. A positive person can turn a bad incident into a less stressful one while a negative and angry person makes the same situation much worse. I would love to be a more optimistic person, it is a work in progress.

  4. this is such an inspiring post jo! although i am not guilty of all those that are listed, i think i need to brush up on some aspects hahaha! :)

  5. aw great post Jo, such a great reminder that we do have to give up certain things to be able to be happy. Love all the quotes!

  6. Rick,
    Similar to you, whenever I read the post I would keep thinking about certain people who practise some of these "rules" and some whom I feel should really read this so that they would not be too miserable.

    Let go of that fear! I'm sure your wife loves you dearly!


    I hope the malware issue has been solved too. I cannot imagine not being able to view your beautiful posts and pictures.


    All these sounds so simple and reasonable but often, the simplest things are hard to put into practise. Slowly try to adopt a few and gradually you would be able to embrace most of them whenever needed. I'm trying too.

    If you get the inside right, the outside will have no choice but fall into places. Hence, we really have to change from the inside.


    sugar sugar,
    That means you are already on the right path and that's great!


    Yup, definitely!


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