1. LET SHIT GO
To anyone who struggles with letting things go, don’t worry, I’ve been there. Now, letting go can be literal like letting go of your sweater once you get home and sinking on the couch, or quickly letting go of a hot pan because you didn’t anticipate it was going to be that hot. But there’s also letting go of things that don’t matter in our lives and we give them too much value.
Whether it’s the fact that your partner has not replied your texts in a while, or how your coworker kind of, sort of was rude to you at work yesterday, or you just stained your perfectly white shirt. In the end, it’s not worth stressing over it. Let it go, it’ll be okay. You can write what worries/annoys/angers you on a piece of toilet paper and flush it down (it helps, although don’t do it too often cause the environment’s not going to be pleased with you constantly flushing your worries away), or you can take a boxing class and let it all go there. Just don’t keep it in. Let it go.
Don’t confuse letting go with never giving a shit about anything. There are things that matter and that you shouldn’t look over. Things like your health, both physical and mental, bullying, racism, and inequality, among others. These things matter. Whether you get the latest iPhone? Doesn’t matter.
Something else that’s important in letting things go – let go of the idea that you always have to be happy. You’re allowed to be sad, to be upset, to be angry, and to need to take time alone. Just understand the reasons behind it, and make sense of what’s important.
2. MAKE SENSE OF WHAT’S IMPORTANT
I once heard an analogy of a jar and how to put different sized rocks in a way that they all fit together in the end. Here’s the story:
A professor walks in with a large, clean glass jar. He sets it on his desk and takes out from his bag a Ziplock bag full of large rocks. He asks the students, “Do you think all these rocks will fit in my glass jar?” As the students laugh and joke while nodding their heads no, the professor gently pours all the large rocks in the jar until they reach the top. “Is my jar full?” the professor asks, and the students, somewhat surprised, reply, “Yes, it is.”
He takes out a second bag of rocks, these half the size of the larger ones. “Do you think all these rocks will fit in the jar?” Again, the students laugh, and again, the professor places all the medium-sized rocks in the jar, as they slowly fit their way in between the gaps. “Is my jar full?” and his students, once again, reply yes.
He now takes out a bag full of sand and asks the same question, getting the same reply. As he pours the large bag of sand over the jar, it fills every remaining space available between the rocks. He gently taps the jar against his desk to make everything fit, and looks at the students with a sly smile, “Is it full now?” “Yes!” They replied.
Finally, the professor takes out a beer to the students surprise, and opens it. He pours about half into the jar until the white foam reaches the top of the jar, letting the sand soak up the beer.
The professors message was the following: the large rocks symbolize the important things in your life, like your health and your home. The smaller rocks show the lesser important things like your car. The sand shows the least important things, like your clothes and your phone. Finally, the beer showed that there’s always space to have a beer with a friend; to relax and make time for you. If you place more importance on the small things and put them first, there won’t be space to put the more important things in your life.
Put the big rocks first. The sand between your toes is the least of your worries.
3. MOVE YOUR BUTT
You heard me. I want you to move that wonderful butt of yours, and exercise! Whether you love or hate the gym, it’s okay. You have to take care of your body, because you’re stuck with it ’till death do you part. You’re going to go through a lot of shit in your life, both good and bad, and you’re going to need to have a good, healthy body to take you through it all. Your body is your vessel; it’s yours and no one else’s.
Now, I don’t care if you want to have the biggest biceps or the most defined abs, just take some form of exercise to liberate your body of the daily stresses we put on it. You don’t need to go to the gym to exercise, you can take a yoga class, take a walk around your local park, take a bike ride, take a dance class… whatever! Just move that body of yours and let it stretch. Our bodies were made to move, so it’s no wonder that staying in, sitting all the time, and being in front of your screen will make you feel blue.
4. TAKE CARE OF SOMETHING
For this step, I highly recommend plants. Even if you’re not good with plants, then you can try succulents or cacti. My grandma always used to say that talking to plants made the plants happy, and they’d show their happiness by blooming and by being healthy. So, I tried talking to my plants. And yes, it was strange at first, but they actually bloomed and became healthier than I had ever seen them. I didn’t talk to them daily, just if I had an anxiety attack or was stressed or happy about something, I would talk about it out loud. Sounds weird, but it works, both for you to let things out, and for the plant.
My theory is that plants, evolutionary speaking, were always in the wild outside. If you’ve ever been in a rainforest, you know how loud it can get from the thousands of different birds singing their songs, to the trees branches creaking in the wind, to the rustling of leaves from bigger animals on the ground, or if you’re lucky the sound of monkeys playing in the distance. It’s loud. Inside our homes, though, we usually keep things quiet, and complain when it’s too noisy. I think that plants get depressed inside our houses if we don’t give them love and appreciation. I know I might sound like a crazy plant lady, but I don’t care, cause it makes me happy.
Taking care of something else other than ourselves helps us see the world differently. If you don’t want or can’t have the responsibility of a live pet or a plant, then take care of (or start) a community garden, volunteer at an animal shelter or at a retiring home, help that person cross the street, cook for your friends and family, buy a homeless person dinner… Take care of something.
5. GIVE IN TO FEAR
I think fears are the best thing in this world. They either keep you alive through instinct, or they’re mentally built fears from things you think might happen. Whether you’ve always been afraid of leaving your hometown, afraid of dancing because people are going to judge you, afraid of starting something because it might not go your way, afraid of being rejected… Well my friends, it’s time to give in to all of that.
I was afraid of writing blogs and posting them online. But then I thought, so what? So what if no one reads it, all the better for me cause now I can write whatever I want, without needing to satisfy a clientele of readers. I was also afraid of dancing in public, so my friends dragged me to a bachata (Spanish-type dancing) class that, although it made me uncomfortable at the beginning, helped me see that most people also suck at dancing, and it’s ok. Hell, it might even make you laugh that you were ever afraid, and laughing’s always nice.
Try to understand every fear you have, write it down, number them from most to least fearsome, and write some reasons as to why you’re afraid. Seeing them on paper and writing what you’re thinking will help you understand them better. It’s ok to not be perfect. It’s ok to fail. By all means, fail! At least it shows you tried, which in my book, is 1000000 times better than thinking ‘what if?’ and never doing anything.
Fears were made to keep you alive, but they can also keep you from living.
6. DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF
Make and find your own happiness.