Zen and the Art of Letting Go

The sun edged over the horizon and light flakes of snow fluttered in the wind. The outdoor fire crackled and pine scented smoked permeated the air. While my family remained in their sleepy state, my dog and I were enjoying the freshness of the outside air and the solitude of the yard. It was a chance to think about what I wanted to do going forward for the year. But, before I could move forward I had to abandon things that I had been doing. I was laboring on all the sunk costs I’d invested and found it painful to move forward. I felt that by walking away from these investments in emotion, time, and money it would indicate that I was a failure. A thought I simply could not bear.

People are reluctant to walk away from the investments they’ve made typically because they cling illogically to the time or money already invested – my feelings certainly echoed this sentiment. Then I remembered that the key to resisting this phenomenon is mindfulness. Mindfulness is about being aware of your existence as it is in the moment. Some people facilitate this through meditation, others simply by closing their eyes and breathing, still others by finding a quiet spot to sit and contemplate. You can choose your way. This intense focus shuts out the noise of life around you and actually lets you think clearly. It’s not about analyzing every aspect of your decision, or to determine options. It’s simply about becoming aware of your existence, to open your mind and to free it from all the restrictions you have placed upon it.

This new found freedom permits you to recognize that sunk costs are just that. They’re investments that you’ve made that didn’t yield expected results. As they did not yield expected results, then by continuing to cling to these actions, you can only expect to receive the same unexpected results. The logical step forward then is to abandon these actions and to chart a new course. We cling unnecessarily to many failed investments in life: relationships, jobs, financial investments, and the like. If we are to truly be happy we must resist the temptation to justify past actions. Practice mindfulness and let it go!

Once you’ve embraced this self-realization, then you can leverage your new found power to set and achieve new goals in your life and to stop being afraid to change course.

Have you become more mindful?

Feel free to share your answer in the comments.

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