Don’t worry, be happy. Forgive and forget. Laugh more. Smile even if you don’t feel like it. These are just a few pieces of advice out there on how to be happier. The advice makes sense but doesn’t always help when we feel sad.
If you are out there in the world doing your best to have a positive attitude and be happy, but then come home at the end of the day and surround yourself with things that make you sad, your happiness will be fleeting. You may keep busy to distract yourself from the sadness, but you know it’s there.
For more joy and happiness, let go of what makes you sad.
What makes you sad?
This is going to be different for everyone, but here are a few things to consider.
It makes you sad because you don’t use it and even though you try to keep it organized, it makes your life feel chaotic. Put it all in a box in the garage or somewhere out of sight. If you don’t miss it after 30 days, give it away.
Clothes and shoes
They make you sad because they don’t fit and make your feet hurt. They remind you that you spent money you don’t have on clothes you don’t wear. Specific items may remind of events you wore them to that made you sad. Let it all go. You have paid enough.
You want to be informed but the weight of the world is making you sad. Instead, stay informed with The Skimm, a daily email with the headlines and a hint of snark. Stay informed without being overwhelmed.
If you don’t know how to make other people’s sadness go away even though you want to help, consider a donation to The Hope Effect or Together Rising. Bring a home cooked meal to a neighbor who is suffering or alone. Visit dogs at your local pet shelter. Feed people at a soup kitchen. The remedy to helplessness is action. Take action, and turn your helplessness into hope.
Regret and guilt contribute to sadness. Instead of continuing to punish yourself, let go. Write it all down and burn it. Free yourself so you can live a happier, healthier life and contribute to the world in ways you can’t when you are held back by things that cannot be changed.
There is some sadness you cannot let go of on your own. Ask for help. See someone locally or consider a virtual yoga therapy session with this beautiful soul.
Does your job make you sad? Choose work that becomes you instead of becoming your work. This may not happen overnight, but once you consider a change, you will ease some of your sadness.
If there are people in your life who treat you poorly and try to make you feel like you are less than enough, or that you need to prove your worth in some way, distance yourself. Spend time with people who lift you up, and lift them right back.
During a live video chat, when I first announced this challenge, I made a few suggestions about what might make you sad, but the feedback reminded me that some of us are dealing with more sadness than others. Sadness like …
“I just threw away a box I made during my bereavement of my mom’s passing, which was 10 years ago October. It was a big step for me but I don’t want to remember the sadness anymore.”
“I recently got rid of the cards from my son’s funeral 16 years ago. I got rid of his last hospital bands and oxygen tubes too. He was 15 and died of cancer. The stuff was meaningful, but it’s time to let them go.”
“I got rid of all sorts of old letters associated with an old flame long gone out. Letting go of yesterday only makes today more meaningful.”
“I held onto the very expensive, very painful shoes that I bought for my mom’s funeral for sixteen years. I took them to the thrift store a few weeks ago and felt such a weight lifted.”
“I helped my husband let go of shoes and boots he can no longer wear because he is an amputee. Holding onto things that defined who he used to be 10 years ago was just a reminder of what life no longer is.”
These people were brave enough to let go and be open to the other side of sadness. Use their stories as inspiration to share and let go of your own sadness. Letting go of what makes you sad may take time, and while it may not erase all sadness it will allow you to better handle sad times and to reconnect with joy.