I love listening to podcasts. Whether it’s when I go on a walk, I’m in the car, or I just have some downtime at home, I enjoy listening to things that are educational, inspirational, and uplifting. One podcast I’ve been enjoying lately is Rick Warren, pastor and author of The Purpose Driven Life. If you haven’t read his book, I recommend adding it to your list. His podcast is called Daily Hope.
He recently did a series on happiness. I’ve only listened to a couple of the episodes, but it’s been really good.
He discussed several key habits to happiness, but there was one habit that really spoke to me. It’s something I struggle with, and I know it interferes with my happiness on a daily basis. You may relate to this too. I feel like it’s something that can trap all of us and hold us back.
KEY HABIT OF HAPPINESS
The one thing you must do everyday to cultivate happiness is FORGET WHAT CAN’T BE CHANGED AND FOCUS ON THE PRESENT.
Do you have a hard time with this? I know I do. I tend to dwell on the past and waste a lot of emotional energy reflecting on things that I can’t change. Why do I do this? There is no benefit whatsoever. In fact, it’s very detrimental.
Not only does it wear you down emotionally, but negative emotions over time can manifest as chronic illness the body. In other words, constantly reflecting on negative/painful memories can cause physical illness in the body.
Your past is past. It’s over and done. All the worrying won’t change the past. This is sometimes a hard truth to let sink in.
I imagine you’ve been hurt a lot in the past. Whether it’s physical, emotional, financial, or some other type of painful memory, we can’t dwell on it. When we do, it will literally destroy us.
This isn’t saying you shouldn’t experience grief or hurt. We will all experience suffering, and the grieving process is often necessary. However, there comes a time where you have to move on and not let it consume you.
Happiness requires letting go of the hurt and learning to forget. This is tough but it’s necessary. You can hold on to the pain, or you can choose to be happy. You can’t have both. It’s impossible.
You only have a limited amount of energy. We’re human; our energy supply is limited. Rather that wasting your limited energy supply on the past, which can’t be changed, why not use all of your emotional energy on today. Focus on the present. It’s all we have. We can’t change the past and we can’t control the future. Your energy is best spent on the present moment.
There are 3 traps that keep you living in the past and prevent you from being happy. Overcoming these traps is the first step in releasing the past and living in the present.
Regrets are decisions you’ve made that you wish you could undo. You wish you did things differently, and there were likely consequences from that decision. We’re human. We all make mistakes, but you have to let go of regrets. You can’t dwell on these things.
Resentment and unforgiveness stems from things that people have done to you. It’s hurt or pain that someone else has caused you. Someone has wronged you in some way. While undoubtedly this completely sucks, you must forgive them for your own sake. Your resentment and unforgiveness is only hurting you. It’s not affecting the person that wronged you. They’re likely not even thinking about you or that situation. While they may not deserve forgiveness, it’s harming you to hold on to the pain.
Tradition may seem like a strange barrier to happiness, but let me explain. Has there ever been a time when you’ve said or thought, “Well we’ve always done it that way.” I think all of us have been resistant to change at some point in our lives. However, things change everyday. Relationships, culture, weather; everything is constantly changing, and you can’t stop it. Rather than getting mad and resentful over changes, you can choose to be happy.
Happiness is a choice. You’re only as happy as you choose to be.
The 2 traps I struggle with the most are regret and resentment. However, I’m working and focusing on living in the present moment and not letting my thoughts venture off to negative places and situations that can’t be changed.
Isaiah 43:18 says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” Let’s cultivate happiness through this practice.
If this resonated with you, I would love for you to share in the comments section what you’re working on, what you struggle with, practices you’ve put in place to be happy.