Originally published in the Huffington Post on January 14, 2014.
Do you remember the thrill of riding a roller coaster?
I would yell and scream and fully take in the ecstatic experience. When the ride was over, I got off and savored the moment by saying “That was AWESOME!” Then, I let it go.
Do you remember the moment you were informed that you had earned a promotion?
I remember calling my husband and sharing the big news. I soaked myself in the joy of getting recognition on the way home. My husband and I went to an expensive restaurant to celebrate. Then, I let it go. It’s funny that we let joy, pleasure, and happiness go so easily; yet we hold on to regrets, anger, and grief so long. When my grandmother died, a part of me was aching with grief; yet I couldn’t let it go. When I’ve been, at times, a little cruel to my friends and family members, I would eventually cool off and regret whatever I had said or did; yet I couldn’t let it go. Again, when I was mistreated and misunderstood by colleagues or even strangers, my heart was pulsing with anger, and I couldn’t let it go. In all instances, these were intense experiences and it took a long time to get over the regret, anger, and grief. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
Doesn’t it make sense to hold on the joy, happiness, and pleasure much longer?
I’ve come to realize that regrets, anger, and grief need proper closure. Unless I somehow make amends to bring proper closure, it’s hard to let it go. For the passing of my grandmother, I made a promise to myself to think of her often. For the cruelty I inflicted to the others, I made an effort to say I am sorry and explain what happened and ask for their understanding. Also, for mistreatment by colleagues or strangers, sometimes I will let them know, sometimes I won’t. The reality is I need to learn that it doesn’t matter. Just let it go! But the opposite is not really true. Holding on to joy, happiness, and pleasure for a very long time won’t really serve your interests in the long run. Good or bad, we can’t dwell on the past. Take in the moments as they are, experience them fully, and then let all emotions go. That’s how we move on.
“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” — Mahatma Gandhi