Luminita D. Saviuc is no stranger to hard times. The blogger behind Purpose Fairy.com grew up with an abusive father, spent part of her childhood in a Romanian orphanage, and then struggled in a toxic romantic relationship as an adult. But she refuses to let those difficult experiences define her.
“The story of your past doesn’t have to become the story of your life,” Saviuc says in her new book, 15 Things You Need to Give Up to Be Happy ($12; amazon.com), which is based on one of her blog posts that went viral (1.3 million Facebook shares and counting).
In the book, Saviuc shares many of the lessons she learned during her healing process, as well as insights from ancient Eastern wisdom, contemporary spirituality, and scientific research on positive psychology. While many of the concepts are rooted in complex ideology, the takeaway is simple: To move forward, you need to let go of the things that are holding you back.
We reached out to Saviuc to find out where to start. Below are the four things that she recommends giving up first.
In her book Saviuc quotes novelist Roderick Thorp: “We have to learn to be our own best friend, because we fall too easily in the trap of being our own worst enemies.”
Sound familiar? By focusing on our shortcomings, we lose sight of what we can do, explains Saviuc: “The quality of your thoughts determines the quality of your beliefs, which then determines how you live your life.”
Try to catch your self-criticisms as they run through your mind, and ask yourself: Are these things true? and Would I talk to a loved one this way? The answer to both questions is likely no.
The more you factcheck your negative thoughts, the less power they will have. In time you will become kinder to yourself, says Saviuc, and more self-assured. When that happens, letting go of all the other things will be much easier to do.
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Apprehension, nerves, anxiety—they're all in your head, says Saviuc. Unconvinced? Try to visualize your own funeral. “If you take yourself to the very end and imagine your death bed, you realize in that moment all your fears have no power,” she says. What does matter is your sense of regret for all that you did not do because you were scared.
To begin shedding your fears now, try redirecting the unpleasant emotion whenever it crops up, she suggests. The idea is to crowd it out of your mind. When you feel frightened (of rejection, failure, loss), shift your focus to something you love or enjoy (your family, your friends, a run in the park, a day at the beach).
This trick worked for Saviuc. "I immediately started letting go of fear, replacing it with love—love for myself, love for my life, and love for the world around me."
The first step to giving up your past is accepting it: You can't change it, but you can learn from it, Saviuc points out. “The painful things I’ve experienced taught me to forgive, look beyond appearances, and know that if people treat me badly, it’s because they’re in a bad place,” says Saviuc.
Once you reframe your past as a learning experience, you start to free yourself from old wounds. Remember that your future is in your hands, she says "There is plenty of happiness waiting for you in your present life."
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Most people believe that having things (a car, a house, a significant other) leads to happiness. But ironically, Saviuc says, it’s our attachments—or our fear of losing things—that causes so much of our suffering.
“It’s important to explain to yourself that nothing in this life is ours to keep,” she says. “Once you embrace this idea and make peace with it, life becomes so much more beautiful."
You will notice an improvement in your relationships too. When you give up your fear of rejection and loss, the love that you give becomes selfless and more pure.
As with any mental block, giving up your attachments will take time and practice. Just try to be better today than you were yesterday, says Saviuc. "It all starts with the intention—after that, everything falls into place."