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Last Updated on November 27, 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 April 14, 2021

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

Expressing Anger

Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

Being Passive-Aggressive

This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.

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Poorly-Timed

Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

Ongoing Anger

Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

Healthy Ways to Express Anger

What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

Being Honest

Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

Being Direct

Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

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Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

Being Timely

When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

How to Deal With Anger

If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

1. Slow Down

From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

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When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

2. Focus on the “I”

Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

3. Work out

When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

If you’re not sure where to start with an exercise routine, check out Lifehack’s free Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan.

4. Seek Help When Needed

There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.

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5. Practice Relaxation

We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

6. Laugh

Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

7. Be Grateful

It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

Final Thoughts

Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

More Resources on Anger Management

Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

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