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Last Updated on September 11, 2020

Living in the Past? 7 Ways to Let Go and Live a Happy Life

Living in the Past? 7 Ways to Let Go and Live a Happy Life

Are you living in the past? How can you live a happy life when you can’t let go of what’s already happened?

Instead of focusing on the present, you’re caught in a web of reflection and brooding, and only your past mistakes seem to matter. Yet there are many out there who live each day with a happy and positive view on life. Why? Because they are not focusing on the past.

Read this guide to learn how you can let go of your past and start living a happier life.

1. Let the Emotions Flow

“Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.” -Steve Maraboli

One mistake many people make is that they try to ignore their emotions altogether, which is the worst thing to do. To move forward, feel your emotions. This is key to understanding why you are upset in the first place.

Let the tears come until you can cry no more, or scream into a pillow until the frustration ebbs away. Let it all out in order to let go of the past and live a happy life.

Read these tips on why it’s ok to cry.

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However, don’t get lost in the emotion. Make sure you remind yourself that you are not your emotions. Your emotions affect you, but you are in control of how you feel.

2. Don’t Let Negative Thoughts Cloud Your Mind

Allow yourself to express your emotions, but don’t dwell on them. Negative thinking is unproductive as it distracts you from the positives in life and makes it harder to let go of the past. Negative thoughts plague your mind with self-sabotaging thoughts, denying you your right to live a happy life.

Furthermore, studies have shown that “certain negative cognitions can produce and maintain the state of depression. There is also good evidence that depressed mood affects the relative accessibility of positive and negative cognitions[1].

Basically, negative thinking can produce depression, and depression can produce negative thinking, which all leads to a vicious cycle that’s difficult to escape from. This also makes it much more difficult to move on from the past when your mind is plagued with negative emotions.

When a negative thought crosses your mind, steer your mind away from it. Instead, look at the positives you have gained from an experience. Willie Nelson mentions the power of positive thinking perfectly:

Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.

3. Learn From Your Experience

Take away the positives from past experiences. By learning from an experience, you learn more about yourself and what makes you happy. It may even help to write all of these down and post them on your desk for a few days to help remind you why difficult experiences are necessary.

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Did you go through a tough break-up? Well, you’ve learned what you do and don’t want in a partner and can now seek out more meaningful relationships.

Did you get fired from a job? It’s likely that you’re now thinking about what kind of work you want to do next, so you’re learning more about what makes you happy.

Whatever the lesson is, it will help you move on to bigger and better things if you take it to heart and let it guide you.

Use these experiences to your advantage so you can learn more about what makes you happy in life.

4. Stop Being the Victim

When you get into the mind-set of the victim, you often find that all your thoughts lead back to past traumas, which makes it almost impossible to stop living in the past. Your mind becomes plagued by these thoughts, and you find yourself thinking that everything always goes wrong for you.

Of course, this is not the case at all, because you are in control of your fate. You shouldn’t think that because you have failed before, you will fail now. Instead, remember that you have control over your life, and you don’t have to be the victim[2].

The opposite of playing the victim is being a survivor. Acknowledge that what you’ve gone through is hard and try to make yourself a better person through it. This will naturally improve your mental health and make you feel good.

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5. Don’t Wait for an Apology

“True forgiveness is when you can say, ‘Thank you for the experience.'” -Oprah Winfrey

The best lesson you can learn in life is to forgive and forget. Maybe that other person was in the wrong, that he or she should apologize, but waiting for that apology isn’t going to help you. In the end, the only one you will hurt is yourself because you aren’t letting go of the past.

Focus on moving forward, because what has happened is in the past . You could be waiting an eternity for that apology and wasting your time hung up. Don’t let someone else’s mistakes stop you from living a happy life.

Here’re some tips to help you: How to Forgive and Live a Happy Life Again (A Step-By-Step Guide)

6. Expand Your View of Yourself

You’ve confronted your past and moved on, so now is the time to avert attention to yourself. This is the time to get to know yourself better, to learn what makes you happy.

Go out and take part in new activities, don’t be afraid to take risks, and learn what experiences you are passionate about. Understanding who you are and what you want out of life will make you happier in the long run.

This is a good time to spend time by yourself. Take yourself out to lunch, go for a solo walk in the park, or make yourself a nice meal. Treat yourself well and learn to love who you are now.

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7. Live in the Moment

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” -Buddha

Enjoy the present, the moment you are in now. You won’t live this minute again, which is why you should make the most of it.

Be present in this very moment by looking around you. Take in what people are saying, as well as focusing on yourself and what you are doing.

This doesn’t come naturally for most people. If you’re struggling with this, try developing a mindfulness meditation practice. This will help you realign your thoughts toward the present, reduce stress, and make space to analyze any problems you have with dwelling on the past.

You can learn more about the benefits of mindfulness in this TED Talk with Andy Puddicombe:

The Bottom Line

The best thing you can do for yourself today is to leave the past behind you. What has happened has made you who you are, but it doesn’t have to define who you become from this moment on.

Focus now on the present moment and your own happiness. Choosing to be positive will open you up to a happier life where you’re able to succeed and achieve your goals.

More on How to Stop Living in the Past

Featured photo credit: Artem Beliaikin via unsplash.com

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Jessica Charlotte

Jessica loves sharing her tips on life. She writes about happiness and motivation on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

10 Principles for Success to Start Living Your Dream Life

10 Principles for Success to Start Living Your Dream Life

Are you stressed out and overwhelmed, wishing you had more time to do the things that really matter? Are you ready to do something better, something special in your life or your career? If you’re ready to take responsibility for your life, then you need to tap into some principles for success.

Many people—maybe you—stopped following their passion and purpose way too early in life because their talents were ignored, minimized, or shamed. They didn’t have the chops to win an American Idol competition or nab an Olympic gold medal, so they stopped expressing their inborn gifts altogether.

You don’t need to be an award winner to rock your life. Living your dream life is about discovering your superpowers and feeling vibrant and joyful when you use them. It’s about owning what makes you unique and finding like-minded people to support you.

Here are 10 success principles to help you reach your goals and live a rich life on your terms.

1. Get a Hobby to Move Closer to Your Dreams

If you never became a professional dancer or a world-renowned author, it does NOT mean you should stop dancing or writing! These activities make you come alive, even if you “only” do them as favorite pastimes.

Engaging in a hobby is one of the most important success principles you can follow to move closer to your dreams.

When you try something creative for the first time or in a long while, you begin to see opportunities at work and in life that you were unaware of before. You also feel happier and more energized, according to a recent study from New Zealand[1].

Some of my most burned-out executive clients reinvigorated their careers by discovering a creative outlet that refueled them after the workday ended. Research at San Francisco State University shows that having a hobby lowers stress and helps you succeed at work[2].

Give yourself permission to try new things and revisit old passions you gave up long ago. Setting aside just one hour a week for personal exploration can significantly change your life and help you focus on goal setting.

2. Focus on Your Strengths

Did you know that you are more likely to succeed when you develop your natural strengths rather than work on your weaknesses? The problem is that you probably don’t know where your true talents lie.

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Once you understand what makes you tick, you can use these skills at work and your personal life to get more done in less time. If you boost your unique abilities through practice and study, you can accelerate your career and become a leader in a field that matters to you. It’s worth investing in yourself this way.

3. Jumping off a Cliff is NOT Required

Here’s the deal: most people are too afraid to change. When participants first come to my workshops, they tell me they have mouths to feed, bills to pay, and fear that if they follow their dreams, someone will get hurt.

The old saying “leap and the net shall appear” does not comfort them. Because they are hesitant to plunge into the unknown, they believe their only option is to stay put where they are in life. Can you relate?

You do not have to sacrifice the life you have now to start a new one. I was a psychology professor by day and singer by night for years before I transitioned into a full-time music career.

To use this principle for success, take a little time out each week to do what enlivens you through a hobby, volunteer work, etc. Get a feel for it. Is it what you really want? If it’s what you really want to be doing, increase the time you spend doing it and make the transition when the time feels right.

4. Give Your Inner Critic Some Love

The main culprit that keeps you from stepping outside your comfort zone and getting the life of your dreams is KCRP or K-CRAP, the radio station that plays 24/7 in your head. The moment you try to do something interesting with your life, it slaps you down with such chart-topping killer hooks as “Who do you think you are?” and “You’ll never be good enough!”.

Have you ever noticed that KCRP’s mean-spirited DJ sounds like your parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures who shut you down creatively? These folks don’t need to stifle you any longer (although they often still do) because your inner critic does it for them. That keeps you stuck in a rut[3].

Silencing your inner critic is one of the best principles for success.

    To break free, try thinking of this DJ as a gruff old grandfather who gives you crap to keep you safe. Remember, this grumpy grandpa is woefully out of touch with the times. Give him a pat on the back for his good intentions, and put your focus back on what makes you come alive.

    This is one of the principles for success that will give you the courage to venture into the unknown where you can dance to the beat of your own drummer.

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    5. Embrace Your Inner Self

    Many of us don’t go after our dreams because we’re afraid people will find out how odd or strange we are. However, our little eccentricities often turn out to be our greatest strengths.

    Odds are that you lost track of your true passions and talents before you were even old enough to know you were getting off-track. You became slowly “adulterated” by learning to:

    • Take on family roles that don’t match who you really are.
    • Spit back what teachers taught you in school rather than risk getting bad grades for being original.
    • Hide parts of yourself that don’t seem acceptable to certain social groups.

    The price for fitting in is that you may wind up leading a life that doesn’t fit you all that well. Your true calling becomes clear when you embrace what makes you different from others and allow yourself to stand out from the crowd, even if it feels awkward. Often, the very qualities you view as your flaws are your greatest gifts.

    Here’s How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment.

    6. See the Bigger Picture to Find Your True Calling

    I cannot stress the importance of this success principle enough. Your true calling is right in front of you, but you may miss it because you’re looking for it in the wrong place.

    To “see” it clearly, try widening your point of view.

    Case in point: Maria felt she needed to retire early from being a police detective, so she could travel abroad. I encouraged Maria to think of ways that she could continue to serve as a law enforcer (a career she loved) and travel overseas at the same time.

    A few months later, Maria landed a job with the United Nations in Bosnia training the local police force to understand and embrace human rights procedures.

    Like Maria, you are an everyday rock star capable of accomplishing greater things than you can imagine. Is what you’re looking for right in front of you, too? Do you have an inkling of what it may be?

    Look beyond your day-to-day activities, your current job, and even the town you live in. View your life from an eagle’s perspective and be open to new possibilities.

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    7. Try a Little Wish-List Magic

    Pretend I’m your fairy godmother, and I give you permission right now to be your most magnificent self. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy. Write it down on a wish list.

    What would you like your career, your relationships, your health, your finances, and your spiritual life to be like? Jot down enough details so that your wishes seem tangible to you. Then, look at this list every morning before you start your day and every night before you go to sleep.

    8. Take Breaks to Get Clues About Your Ideal Future

    Did you know that working straight through to a deadline leads to diminishing returns? Research shows that taking a break for 15 minutes every 75 to 90 minutes can help you recharge, refresh your focus, and get more done in less time[4].

    Furthermore, a Stanford study shows that walking increases your creative output by 60 percent. Doing repetitive activities such as walking, running, riding your bike, swimming, and sweeping allow solutions to problems to pop into your mind out of nowhere[5].

    What does this success principle have to do with creating your dream life?

    These mini-breaks allow you to get vital clues for what to do next to attain your ideal future. Plus, you won’t waste precious time and energy getting lost in other people’s agendas.

    9. Take Action on Your Inspired Ideas

    Once an inspired thought pops into your mind, take action.

    This is one of the most powerful principles for success for turning your dreams into reality; the sooner the better. Whatever it is—from calling an old friend to taking a new route home—be sure to do it!

    Pay attention to your oddball hunches. You need to go after what you want, not just dream about it. As comedian Jim Carrey warns,

    “You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”

    To learn more about how to get off autopilot and take specific actions towards your goals, check out this video:

    10. Count Your Rockstar Moments

    Still not sure you have what it takes to get your dream life? This final success principle is guaranteed to help.

    Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished. As you read back through it, put a star next to each item, and let it sink in.

    You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good you’ll feel about yourself afterward. You’ll also see how effective you’ve been in the past at getting what you want. You’ve succeeded before, and you can succeed again.

    Final Thoughts

    Eleanor Roosevelt said,

    “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

    Following these principles for success will help you find the time and energy to achieve your goals and live with clear intention.

    Stand still, get quiet, and listen. Your life is constantly telling you what you need to do to realize your own rock star potential in life and business. It may be just a whisper now, but the more you pay attention to it, the louder it will get, and the easier it will be to follow.

    More About Success in Life

    Featured photo credit: Rahul Dey via unsplash.com

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