The natural reaction to tripping – after catching yourself from falling and then pretending that you meant to do that – is to look around to make sure no one noticed. But if you actually fall, do you look around for someone else to blame?
When I was young, I often blamed others for my own unhappiness.
That wasn’t too hard to do being the middle child with a baby sister and a big brother, and of course, parents are always supremely responsible for everything that’s wrong with their kids; it’s either in the genes they passed on or the way they raised us.
But as I grew up, I realized that most of the time, I was responsible for my own unhappiness. That realization was both liberating and empowering.
I was no longer the victim – even in the wake of bad luck, illness, accidents, mean girls and bullies. That’s not to say that I deserved or asked for bad things. Yet I could choose if I wished to remain angry or anxious, depressed or deprived.
I could choose to hold on to my pain, relive it in my dreams, replay it in my memory and let it control my heart. I could hold onto my grudge, fantasize about revenge, let the anger fester and never give in to forgiveness.
But the moment I recognized my personal responsibility for my own peace and happiness, I chose to let go. By recognizing my own anger, I chose not to let it control my actions and the rest of my life. By recognizing my choice to let go and forgive, I no longer let the past control my present and future.
Letting go of past losses, resentments and transgressions, I was able to move forward without the heavy baggage. I didn’t see the act of forgiving as giving something up for someone who has wronged me. It was an act that set me free.
If we choose not to forgive, we aren’t really harming or punishing anyone other than ourselves. The rational – and empowering – choice is to forgive, let go and move forward.
Your happiness exercise for today: Take a look into your own heart. What holds you back from embracing the beauty of this day? Is it something you need to let go? Is there someone you need to forgive?