joy of letting go

The Joy of Letting Go

One of the main routes to true well-being is the experience of letting go. These words are another way of saying the practice of simplicity. We un-complicate our mind as we free ourselves from the pull of more stuff or imagined needs. Letting go is like weeding. When you get rid of the weeds it makes room for more of the beauty to be seen. In the same way when we let go of our extra stuff—whether material things or mental clutter—it gives space for our creativity and full potential to flower. And this cleaning out is usually a joyful experience.

Our ability to let go is an expression of contentment. We can let go of our attachments when we feel we have enough. This counteracts the disease that is so prevalent in our society today called FOMS, fear of missing something. We incline the mind towards contentment with ourselves when we let go of the idea that we should be more than we are. We experience contentment with life by letting go of the idea that if we only had different circumstances we could find happiness or joy. Happiness doesn’t come from having the perfect circumstances. Rather, it’s based on how we relate to our circumstances. We are complete as we are and can practice the perspective that life has given us just what we need to wake up to life. Loving and accepting ourselves just as we are is an essential element to awakening joy. See what it’s like to let go of the idea that you need anything else for your happiness.

Letting Go as Simplifying

Letting go, when skillfully practiced, is not an experience of martyrdom. You don’t want to somberly feel that you have to deprive yourself in order to awaken joy and, in the process, lose your playfulness and your sparkle. There is a freedom, a lightness of heart and connection with life that comes with letting go. It’s something you’re doing for yourself not to yourself. Rather than self-denial, we experience a wholesome release of what’s not needed. It’s also culturally subversive as you go against the unsustainable consumer creed: more is better.

This may be a good time to clean out what you’re ready to let go of and donate to local charities. If you do this, get in touch with how good it feels to unclutter your space and perhaps pass something on to some needy person who may be grateful to receive it. Amazing to see all the accumulation of stuff! Tossing what’s outdated and passing on what may be useful to someone else is liberating. Keep in mind how simplifying can include the gift of having a lighter footprint for the planet. You might consciously make greener choices that support wiser use of our resources. Feel the goodness that accompanies it when you do.

Creating Balance in Your Life

Simplifying a crowded schedule can be another powerful kind of letting go practice. This may mean learning to say no to the next “important” thing or someone else’s “urgent” need. Can you move in the direction of bringing about more balance to your life?

I remember hearing a de-cluttering expert give the suggestion to be very aware when we use the word “just as in “I’ll just do this quick errand before my next appointment” or “I’ll just check my email one more time before I go.” Just has a way of creating unrealistic expectations. Then we find ourselves rushing and hurrying to catch up.

We’ll never get to the end of our “to do” list. It’s helpful to prioritize and see what really needs our attention. If you’re too busy to enjoy your life, then you’re probably too busy. What can you do that will nourish you and make life more worthwhile? Take a walk in nature. Spend more time with your kids or loved ones. Play some music.

If the impulse arises to let go, see what it’s like to act on it. Notice if you regret it later. (That’s rarely been my experience.) Notice the feeling of well-being in your body and mind that arises when you choose to let go. Let your awareness feel the release, relief and ease that follows. Don’t miss it! If you find that it’s accompanied by a feeling of gladness, really soak that in.