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A Time For Letting Go February 15, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness, People.

IMGP3064bWhere’s the dividing line between success and failure?

When a door closes on one experience, be it marriage or career, should we view everything leading up to the closing door as a failure?

Should we view the experience itself as a mistake?

When we hang on to people, places, or things that detract from our happiness (out of fear, complacency, habit, or sheer stubbornness), should we view our continued commitment as a success to be celebrated?

Or as a failure to honor who we’ve become?

220px-PinocchioNothing in life is constant. 

Sometimes promises and solemn vows made to ourselves and others must be broken because we grew in directions different than expected.

That’s all part of the process, the uncertainty of life.

When we are 20 we don’t know who we will be, or what we will need, when we are 40, 60, or 80.

Socialization that encourages us to believe that we can live happily ever after, merely by holding fast to the past, is a lie.

Asking people to beg our forgiveness because they’ve changed over time is akin to asking a toddler to apologize for outgrowing his clothes ~ we might as well apologize to each other for being alive.

Ringling Museum 006bLongevity, standing alone, does not define success.

A happy marriage of whatever length is a success ~ even if it ends in the amicable parting of ways.

An unhappy marriage is not a success, no matter how long or how tightly the couple hangs on to their tattered vows to love, honor, and cherish.

A satisfying career, however brief, is a success. An unsatisfying career is not a success, even if it culminates in receipt of a gold watch after 40 years of faithful service.

When we stick with decisions made 10, 20, or 30 years ago, even if those decisions are no longer working for us, we are NOT making the most of the time we have left.

Taking stock of our lives, evaluating where we are, and deciding where we want to head from here, is a life-affirming practice, a cause for celebration ~  even if it requires closing a door opened decades earlier by a younger, less experienced version of our self.

250px-Scottish_hammer_throw_illustrationGrowth requires change, not constancy.

Just as day flows to night, life is a continuum of experiences, a daily journey to celebrate and savor ~ no matter how many doors have to be opened or closed along the way.

Growth requires that we expand our boundaries, step out of our comfort zone, and explore new vistas ~ we are not intended to hang on to the shoreline for the duration of our visit.

There’s a time for letting go.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Do not delay; the golden moments fly! ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


1. Lighthouse Keepers Daughter - February 15, 2016

Reblogged this on The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter and commented:
Love this post, very thoughtful and sincere xxx

nrhatch - February 15, 2016

Glad it resonated, LKD!

2. jannatwrites - February 15, 2016

Sometimes it’s easier to hang in than to let go because at least we know what we’re hanging on to (but have no idea what we’ll find when we let go.) This post addresses a lot of things that had been on my mind this past year…. well said 🙂

nrhatch - February 15, 2016

Given the changes you’ve faced in the past year, I’m not surprised that these thoughts have been front and center for you, Janna.

Hope you’re doing OK as you move out, move in, and move on.

3. Jill Weatherholt - February 15, 2016

Stepping out of our comfort zone can be tough, but usually the payoff is worth it.
“When we stick with decisions made 10, 20, or 30 years ago, even if those decisions are no longer working for us, we are NOT making the most of the time we have left.” Truth!

nrhatch - February 15, 2016

Thanks, Jill. Changing horses mid-stream can be intimidating. We may be afraid to leave the known for the unknown. Fear of uncertainty can be paralyzing. Even if fear is not an issue, we may feel locked into a career decision made decades earlier by a younger, and less experienced, version of our self.

Funny, that.

How many forty-year-olds would hire their twenty-year-old selves to make decisions for them today?

Not many, I’d wager.

4. Under the Oaks - February 15, 2016

I found out as I got older that letting go, especially of relationships with friends that were making me feel miserable… letting go was the best thing. Relationships with friends that aren’t healthy are draining. Good post Nancy and I love having these “mindfulness” posts to read in the morning.

nrhatch - February 15, 2016

Yes! Sometimes “friends” are really “frenemies” who suck the life out of us by expecting us to be who they want us to be.

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. The gift of life is yours. It is an amazing journey and you alone are responsible for the quality of it.” ~ Dan Zadra

5. Kate Crimmins - February 15, 2016

Maybe it’s the year but my first thought was which politician should I forward this to…..Great post.

nrhatch - February 15, 2016

Haha! I used to get excited at the thought that political change might occur with the next election. Now I see that most politicians are in it for themselves, not us.

6. L. Marie - February 15, 2016

“When we hang on to people, places, or things that detract from our happiness (out of fear, complacency, habit, or sheer stubbornness), should we view our continued commitment as a success to be celebrated?” So true, Nancy. A lot of times, guilt plays a huge part.

nrhatch - February 15, 2016

Yes! Guilt is a huge part of it ~ we’re socialized to believe that maintaining the status quo is a good thing. Even if it isn’t.

“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.” ~ J.B. Priestley

7. Charlie@Seattle Trekker - February 15, 2016

There are no mistakes or failures in life, there are only lessons, some that we are yet to learn.

nrhatch - February 15, 2016

If we pay attention, everything teaches us something. We are always evolving, shaped by our experiences with people, places, and things:

8. suzicate - February 15, 2016

I think it is human nature to view what doesn’t work out as a failure as rather to see the lesson or growth in the experience. When we change perspective we learn much.

nrhatch - February 15, 2016

Yes! When we change our perspective, we change the world.

When I stopped practicing law, more than a few people viewed that decision as “failure” ~ they couldn’t understand using anything other than “material success” as a yardstick for life.

suzicate - February 15, 2016

I sometimes wonder if I had chosen a different (one considered successful by mainstream standards) path if I would truly be happy, and I honestly think I would probably lack than inner calm which I crave so much. Perhaps not, but I do know a quiet, calm center is vital for me. I’m not high on accolades or society’s view of success. I’m glad you were courageous enough to follow your own standards of success and find your own happiness…and to me that is the highest form of success. I think you rock, Nancy!

nrhatch - February 15, 2016

Thanks, Suzi! A few years ago, I bought a t-shirt with a stick figure playing guitar that said, “I ROCK!” I wore it when my nieces came to visit. 😎

As for the question you’ve considered . . . let’s visualize a bunch of financial folks on Wall Street bouncing around the NYSE screaming BUY! or SELL! as prices roll past on the ticker tape parade.

Now, let’s contrast that scene with one of Buddhist monks mindfully flowing through the day from task to task without ever once trying to push the river.

For me, only one of those extremes is conducive with the type of inner calm, serenity, and peace that “seekers” desire.

Most occupations fall somewhere between those extremes, giving us some flexibility if we want to be “grounded” both spiritually and financially. :mrgreen:

9. NancyTex - February 15, 2016

Couldn’t agree more on the examples cited for successful marriage and career. Quality over quantity!

nrhatch - February 15, 2016

Societal norms often place undue emphasis on “consistency” (over contentment) as the measure of a life well lived because doing so helps maintain and manage the masses.

Self-appointed “border collies” nip at our heels to keep us in line by encouraging us to “keep on keeping on” even if WE know we’re headed in the wrong direction.

Switching to an internal compass pays BIG dividends.

10. Carol Ferenc - February 15, 2016

“Taking stock of our lives . . . is a life-affirming practice . . . ” Love, love, love this, Nancy. So much truth and wisdom in this great post!

nrhatch - February 15, 2016

Thanks, Carol. We don’t have forever. Only the time we are here.

11. Eileen - February 16, 2016

amen amen amen sometimes getting out of bed is an act of consummate courage an affirmation of hope…..and that’s success.

new beginnings can spring from that…

nrhatch - February 16, 2016

I expect that pain in your shoulder makes getting out of bed even more of a challenge. To new beginnings!

12. Debra - February 16, 2016

This is really a “boost” I needed tonight, Nancy. I think you’re so right. I sometimes forget that while I may change over time, so do others. And that often means growing apart. You’ve encouraged me to think about this differently, and not as a loss. Well done!

nrhatch - February 16, 2016

Glad it gave you some food for thought, Debra.

It’s great when we grow together and not all that surprising when we grow apart . . . given the infinite number of directions, distractions, and diversions competing for our time and attention.

13. Tiny - February 16, 2016

Great post, Nancy! Resonates with me, all of it. Cheers from Nairobi ~

nrhatch - February 16, 2016

Thanks, Tiny! We are water wheels ~ emptying out who we were to become more fully who we’re meant to be.

BTW: You look very tiny from here . . . Nairobi is such a long ways away. I just checked your weather there & it’s similar temps to here. Hope your work (and play) are going well.

Tiny - February 16, 2016

All work up to now Nancy, but tomorrow afternoon will be play time 🙂 I’m hoping to see some lions…

nrhatch - February 16, 2016

Fingers crossed for you!

14. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - February 16, 2016

I normally don’t read the comments as I don’t want it to color my response, but I had to today – so first off, I agree, there is no way I would hire my 20 year old self. I am dealing with an issue right now that happened when I was in my early 20’s, and as I deal with everything, I’ve said a couple of times that I had to be compassionate towards 23/24 year old me, I want to call her an idiot, but recognize that it was what was right at the time, and 41 year old me is totally making different decisions… and secondly, are you moving on? Are you getting divorced? That’s why I had to read to comments to see if someone else asked! 🙂

nrhatch - February 16, 2016

No, no divorce on the horizon. BFF is still my BFF. Yay! 😀

This post stems (in part) from my decision to “let go” of the law even when many felt I had too much invested to “quit.” They wanted me to stick with a decision made decades earlier by a less experienced version of myself.

But why? I don’t continue to wear clothes I’ve outgrown. Why continue to wear a “life” that no longer fits.

As for you . . . when we can be compassionate towards our previous selves, we are on the way home!

Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - February 16, 2016

Oh, I am so proud of you for letting go of what no longer serves you!! And I am a bit relieved, but I agree, and I tell my boss and employees frequently, just because that is how it’s always been done – it doesn’t mean that is how we have to do it! 😉

nrhatch - February 16, 2016

It’s good to remember that we are always evolving.

15. Behind the Story - February 17, 2016

Very well said. Life is too long to stick with a decision made decades ago. Most of my decisions to make big changes came quickly and intuitively. Once or twice I held on too long.

nrhatch - February 17, 2016

Yes, we can hold on too long. I struggled with the decision to leave the practice of law. i knew I needed to switch gears, but felt pressure from myself and others to “make it work.” I didn’t want to “let go” until I knew what I would do next. As a result, I held on too long . . . with resulting health problems which disappeared, like magic, after I stopped litigating.

Being “fluid” helps us go with the flow.

16. BunKaryudo - February 17, 2016

This was a very interesting post and you put things in a way I hadn’t considered before. I’m not a huge fan of the work I’m doing at the moment, so I’m trying to gradually edge towards doing something else with remaining years.

I have to tread cautiously, though, because I’m not the only person involved. I have a wife and two teenage kids, so any major life-changing decisions for me could well have direct and serious consequences for others too.

nrhatch - February 17, 2016

Some jobs/ careers do not ADD to our happiness . . . but we put up with them because they finance other things that add to our happiness. They are “emotionally neutral” not “soul sucking.”

Other jobs/ careers DETRACT from our happiness . . . causing health problems and stress and worry and anxiety and a sick feeling in the pit of our stomach every time we enter the fray.

When you say you’re not a “huge fan of the work,” I get the sense that your job falls into the first camp, not the second. If so, treading cautiously to balance competing concerns makes sense.

BunKaryudo - February 17, 2016

I think you’ve put it very well. My job is definitely in the “not very interesting use of my time” rather than the “Hell on Earth” category. 🙂

nrhatch - February 17, 2016

That’s good. It gives you “breathing room” to decide what to do to benefit all of you.

17. Ally Bean - February 18, 2016

You’ve nailed something I’ve always felt, but have never been able to articulate. Hanging onto old decisions that no longer serve you is not failure. But my observation is that some people like problems and some people like solutions. If you’re a problem person, then letting go and growth is the enemy.

nrhatch - February 18, 2016

You’ve got that right, Ally Bean . . . some people seem happiest when they’ve got something to bitch about! 😉

I love to ask them, “What’s RIGHT with your life?”

18. Benn Bell - February 18, 2016

Nicely stated. Over the years I have learned to not become attached to outcomes or people for that matter. And oh, yes, experience keeps a dear school.

nrhatch - February 18, 2016

Good practice, BB.

Expectations are bits of fluff and stuff, based on mere opinions about how the world “should” be. Letting go of expectations is takes practice, but it’s easier than trying to control outcomes.

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