On the gentle art of letting go

Letting go can be hard, but ultimately it's all for the better.It can be difficult to talk about simply letting go, because it’s clearly an abstraction. “Letting go of what?”, you might rightly ask. We’re getting to that; don’t worry.

But why would we necessarily benefit from simply letting go of something?? It might even seem counter-intuitive.

And for the most part, it probably is. Because, like with all of our other actions, whatever we hold on to, we hold on to for many a good reason.

But when we let go of something, it’s because we’ve reached a point where that something doesn’t serve us anymore.

Whether it’s a grudge, a relationship, or a bag of old pants that have mysteriously shrunk over the years, we all have these things in our lives that only serve as deadweight and clutter. Be it objects, people, thoughts, emotions, or ideas. You have them, I have them, and even the Dalai Lama probably has some.


Even the Dalai Lama probably has some issues letting go.
He still has that scarf. If you even mention throwing it out, he’ll get seriously pissed.

Well okay, but why is it so hard to let go, then?

Because whatever we hold on to, we hold on to because we identify with it.

That old grudge you’re still carrying around? You’re nursing it because you’re trying to protect and honor that part of you that got hurt in the first place.

That unhealthy relationship that you’re in? Well, it’s been good at some point, and you’ve been in it for so long, so throwing it all away would just seem like giving up, right?

And that bag of old pants in the back of your wardrobe? Well, you’ve kinda been meaning to lose some weight anyway… But first and foremost, those were the pants you wore that one really cool summer where all these really cool things happened. So letting go of them would be like defiling those memories!

We all have them. The excuses, the explanations. We’re only human after all.

I mean, shit. If I were to get rid of my album collection, it’d be like having a limb removed.

But sometimes — and more often than we think — letting go is far more beneficial for us than carrying around anything that basically just impedes us.


I recommend letting go in every area of your life. But hold on your teddy bears.
Well, okay, but I’m keeping the teddy bears.

The ability of letting go is a huge part of being confident. Because confident people know that letting go of anything doesn’t hurt their core identity.

When you amputate something, you do it for a reason. It’s infested; it has no circulation; it has gangrene… It’ll probably kill you if you don’t. And whatever’s left after the amputation will be far better off, regardless of an initial, perceived loss.

Of course I’m not saying that your spring break t-shirts are literally gonna kill you. But they serve no purpose other than clutter and deadweight.

Let it go. It’s not giving up. On the contrary, you’re only improving your life.


1. Make a thorough list of any material objects in your home that definitely don’t serve you anymore. Go deep; set aside 30 to 60 minutes.

2. Once you have that list, arrange the items in the order of how much physical space and mental energy each takes up. Put the relatively “biggest” items first.

3. Every week, starting with the current one, throw away one of these items until your list is exhausted. Then, start over.

And yes: Throw away the biggest one first. I know it might be tempting to start from the bottom, but that would just increase the chances of you coming up with even more excuses to hold on to that dossier of old high school essays that you never read anyway.

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