Over the last few weeks, I have been humbled by the hundreds of emails I received in response to “The Cost of Holding On,” my essay encouraging people to let go of grudges, slights, and yes, underperforming investments.
I’m blown away by your grace and willingness to do the hard work involved in letting go.
You have experienced everything from the irritating (like how a spouse cut up a grapefruit), to the life changing (when you dealt with terrible injustices).
Letting go is no small thing, and it certainly isn’t easy.
But according to my scientific calculations, approximately 97.435 percent of you (in other words, the vast majority) reported that it’s not just possible, but also completely worth it.
But the emails that stuck with me the most — that continue to stick with me — were the other 2.565 percent who had trouble letting go.
Most of these people suffered a terrible injustice, and most of them had some serious questions about my advice:
How can I?
Why should I?
The emails I got from people who can’t or won’t bring themselves to let go certainly gave me pause.
And yet, the more I thought about them, the more I found myself doubling down on my position.
To be clear, I’m not saying everyone deserves forgiveness (although they might).
I’m not suggesting a universal moral or ethic.
I’m not trying to posit some immutable truth.
That’s not what this is about at all.
What this is really about is smart investing.
Think of the energy and the time you put into the things that happen to you as investments.
With that in mind, the simple question I’m asking is what return are you getting by holding onto something painful, frustrating or irritating?
We get a much larger return on investments we make into love, happiness and personal well being, than we do investing in hate, anger and indignation.
I can’t emphasize that enough.
Continuing to invest in the things that hurt you, you only cause yourself more hurt.
Among all the emails I got, two stuck out.
They were almost identical.
Very similar people, in very similar circumstances, had wronged both writers in very similar ways.
Reading them was like déjà vu.
I couldn’t believe how similar these two stories were, except for one little difference.
The writer of the first email had worked through the hurt, let go and moved on; the writer of the second email vowed not to let go.
Now let me ask you — all questions of morality and theology aside — which writer would you rather be?
Which one is earning a better return on investment?
I’ve noticed for myself and through all your emails a few ideas that may help you start your new investing program:
- Time helps. Sometimes this is just a few breaths and counting to 10. Sometimes, it is years. But as the Good Book says, this too shall pass.
- Learn from the wisdom of others. A number of you mentioned the work of Byron Katie. I can vouch for it as well. Michael Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul, changed my life, too. You may find it valuable to add some of these ideas to your life.
- Get help. There are professionals dedicated to helping people let go. There is no shame in th Very good therapists have made huge differences in my life, and many of you said that same thing.
I’m not saying this is easy, or that it will happen overnight.
I’m not claiming to know exactly how you will get there.
What I am saying is that the things we have the most trouble letting go of are the things we probably need to let go of the most.
Imagine how much energy you could have back to invest in more positive things if you did.