I’ll share the ultimate life hack in just two words: letting go.
These two words, if practiced and lived, can be the key to all the self-improvement in your life:
- Productivity: By letting go of trying to do everything, or be updated about everything, you can focus on just what’s important. This simple focus can make you incredibly effective, and you’ll accomplish more.
- Simplicity: Our lives get filled with clutter and complexity when we constantly want to add things. By letting go of what we want to have, and some of what we already, we can simplify, declutter, create space, let go of complexity.
- Finances: Our finances would be much better if we didn’t spend so much. Of course, you could argue that we could just earn more, which is true. But spending less and earning more is actually better than all of that! Anyway. Letting go of things we want to spend on is the key to better finances. More on that below.
- Happiness: When we are frustrated with someone, disappointed with ourselves, unhappy with our situation, angry at something in the past … what is standing in the way of our happiness? We could blame the other person, or ourselves, or our situation, or the thing in the past … but actually, the thing preventing our happiness is being stuck on an ideal or expectation. We could let go of how we want others to be, how we want our lives to be, how we want ourselves to be … and find contentment in the way things are. This is hard for people to accept — because they aren’t good at letting go yet. Again, more below.
- Weight loss: Eat less, by slowly reducing portion sizes and eating more vegetables and beans (low in calories, high in bulk). This is a simple recipe for weight loss (I would add strength training and other exercises, but let’s keep things simple), but what stands in our way of eating less? Wanting to eat pleasurable foods, junk foods, comfort foods, bigger portions. If we let go of these wants, we could eat less. Yes, it’s possible (I’ve done it many times).
More on all of this in the sections below. But first, let’s look at what letting go actually means.
The Process of Letting Go
What does it mean when I suggest that we let go? It means that we are attached to something (we all are, most of the time), and to let it go means to loosen that attachment.
It’s opening up of our grip and letting the cherry blossoms blow in the wind as they will, out of our grasp.
When you are angry at someone, you are unhappy with how they acted. You believe they should have acted some other way. The should have acted is what you’re holding onto. If you didn’t have the should so firmly attached in your mind, you wouldn’t be angry.
So the answer is letting go of the should.
The answer is to loosen the tight grip on the way you think things should be. And let the should blow away in the wind. Because in reality, we have no control over the should of reality. We can’t make other people act the way we’d like them to, because they’re not puppets. We can’t even make ourselves act the way we want, much of the time.
We don’t control the should, and so letting go of our tight grasp of them, loosening up and learning to accept the uncontrollable nature of life, leads to many benefits. Let’s look at some of them below.
Productivity and Letting Go
I’ve already given an example of how letting go of all that we want to do allows us to be more focused and effective, and accomplish more.
Let’s look at a few more examples of how letting go is a great self-improvement and productivity hack:
- If we pick just three things on our to-do list that are important and let go of the rest (for now), we can focus on the important things.
- If we let go of needing to stay current on everything, that will allow us to be less distracted by the news and social media and messages and emails. We can then just focus on what’s important.
- If we let go of needing to say yes to every request, we will free up a lot of our time, and instead focus on what’s most important.
- If we let go of our urges to be entertained and distracted, we’ll free up the time to focus on the important.
Attachments are getting in the way of our meaningful contributions to the world. Letting go is the answer.