The Simple Secret to a Happier Life
And that can be the first step to a more blissed-out, less stressed-out
existence. Read on to learn how to let go of those unrealistic longings — ones
that you believe hold the keys to your happiness, but actually hold you back —
so you can love the life you have right now.
If you long to be closer to a family member...
For years, Nanci Schwartz hoped for a tighter bond with her brother. "He
never saw eye-to-eye with my dad, and is now somewhat estranged from the whole
family," she explains. Every time Schwartz tried to reach out and was
rebuffed, she was hurt. "The final straw came recently, when my husband and
I planned a birthday get-together for our parents," says the 41-year-old
from Fruitland Park, FL. "My brother never even bothered to respond to the
invitation, and once again I felt completely let down."
Perhaps you, too, have a family bond that's coming apart at the seams. Or
maybe you just have a sneaking sense that something is missing in your
relationship with your parents or siblings. "No matter what has gone on
before, we all have expectations about what our family relationships are
supposed to be like," says Lynn Robinson, author of Divine
Intuition. "Deep down, we believe that our family should always be
there for us through thick and thin." Plus, it's normal to want to draw
closer as we start to get older and realize how quickly time is passing, adds
Robinson — since the family members you bicker with today may not be there
How to Let Go
Slowly, Schwartz has begun to accept her distant relationship with her
brother. "I finally realize that it's not my fault we're not closer,"
she says. "It's his choice — and looking at it that way has lifted a huge
burden from me. Now I can stop spinning my wheels, trying to make the
impossible happen. I'm not thrilled with the situation, but it's not going to
consume me, either, because there's nothing I can do about it." The (very
liberating) bottom line here: You can't ever control someone else's behavior —
you can only control your own.
You'll be happier, not to mention more sane, if you focus on the
relationships in your life that are reciprocal — the friends and loved ones you
can rely on, says Robinson. "Your peace of mind ultimately doesn't depend
on the closeness or distance of one person," she explains. "The more
healthy relationships you have in your life, the better."
If you've had a long standoff with a relative and you're aching for some
closure, consider writing that person a heartfelt and compassionate note, she
adds. "Make it simple, not a rehash of past events," Robinson suggests.
"Tell them what you appreciate about them and that you look forward to
hearing from them on their time and terms." Mail it and let it go, telling
yourself that you've given it your best shot. Or write the letter and
don't mail it — instead simply use it as a way to release and sort
through your feelings. That process alone will make it easier for you to find