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Mindfulness and the Subtle Art of Letting Go

mindfulness and letting goThis is kind of embarrassing, but I’ll tell you anyway: I used to be a chubby kid and I hated when adults called me fat.

To make it even worse, I had moderately long hair, so people often would mistake me for a girl. Nothing wrong with being a girl, but my child self just couldn’t handle other people’s realities.

Looking back now, I seriously don’t remember any adults who called me fat. I know they did because I still have memories of getting mad, but I don’t remember who those people were. If my child self had known how insignificant those labels were, I believe he would have been a much happier child.

Through endless reading and facing adversity I have developed three key tips for letting things go in instances such as these:

Be the master of every moment

You are the master of your mind. Only you can decide what you’re feeling. Don’t let other people put you down with their words and actions. You control the decision to give in to their misery or to remain unaffected and pleasant.

Think of them as offering you a present. Inside of it is a little misery. Your mind has a choice to accept it or not. If you don’t accept it, what happens? The present remains with the owner and he or she has to deal with it.

People often receive one present of misery and give ten presents back. This just feeds the cycle of misery. People who feed the cycle want to receive your attention and get a reaction; don’t give into this. By understanding how this cycle works, you should remain unaffected and halt the cycle.

Humans crave social interaction. When we are desperate for attention we say things or do things we don’t mean. It’s a petty way of getting attention, but that’s okay because that’s what makes us human.

Whether for their ego or for their misery, accept that the people you’re dealing with are just desperate to be heard. Don’t feed their ego or misery. You have a choice to let things go.

Respect the law of impermanence

We have all heard the saying “what goes up must come down.” That applies to life as well. People give insufficient attention to this law of life. No matter how happy you are, there will be a time when that happiness wanes. Same goes with pain.

People who get attached to outcomes and material objects suffer a lot more than those who understand the impermanence of everything. Let these attachments go and you will feel more tranquil and have a lighter mind.

Take, for example, two people who bought the same pair of shoes. One is attached to them and worries about getting them dirty. The other understands that this is only one of many pair of shoes that he will wear in his lifetime and wears it without worry. Who enjoys life (and the shoes) more?

When you feel attached to an outcome or feel aversion toward one, remind yourself of the law of impermanence. Correct understanding will help you let go of these feelings and have a calmer mind. It is a hard habit to master and may take a long time, but keep at it.

Accept that everything is changing all the time

You aren’t the same person you were five years ago or even a year ago. Every day you change a bit, for better or worse. Accept that life changes and let things go. Focus on the present and use what you have learned from previous experiences to improve yourself. Teach yourself to be unaffected by sudden or gradual changes, and when the time comes to let past outcomes go, you will be ready.

Your body is the best example of this. You can experience the change and apply the knowledge. The surface of your body is going through countless biochemical reactions at any given time. If you focus hard enough, you can even feel the changes. The world also is changing endlessly at any given time.

Each experience that you have gone through is comparable to a second of small vibrations on your body. You went through it and you’re here now. Why give so much attention and mental energy to something that’s so fast and insignificant? Let go of those thoughts and free your mind from the suffering that they bring.

Life is short. Your body is changing and degrading all the time. Focus on things that matter. If something is bothering you, let it go because it does not deserve your focus. Realize that it’s a little blip in your journey called life.

Little boy photo available from Shutterstock

Mindfulness and the Subtle Art of Letting Go

Hamish Lou

Hi I’m Hamish Lou and I am a final year pharmacy student at the University of Otago in New Zealand. I have overcome social anxiety and a panic disorder through mindfulness courses and more. In my up and coming blog ‘The Anxiolytic’ ( I wish to shar ye the techniques and teachings that helped me through it. I believe inou and wish for no one to go through what I had been through. May all be happy!

APA Reference
Lou, H. (2018). Mindfulness and the Subtle Art of Letting Go. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 4 Feb 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.