I used to think I was bipolar. And depressed.

Apparently a lot of people feel this way. Do you? I did. I wasn’t really either of those things. If you’re anything like I was your just confused and unhappy. You can fix it. I did. Well, I’m working on it.

Start by giving up. Confused? Then, keep reading.

Hi, I’m Joe.

One part of me wanted to go to college and get a good job (whatever that is) mainly because I was supposed to. Deep down this feeling was tied to an unshakable obsession to please everyone around me. Especially my parents, teachers, coaches and friends. I thought – Tell me you’re proud of me. That I’m doing the right thing. Reassure me. Promise me everything will be safe and certain. Free and easy.

Absurd as it sounds, I really believed those things were possible if I simply did what I was told. If I did the things that were expected of me. I could be happy.

No, no. I’m Joe.

At the same time, another part of me was attempting to sabotage the status quo. I’d get sick to my stomach. Literally. I wanted to throw up. I felt like I was selling myself short. That I didn’t fit in. I wasn’t of this world. How could I be? Despite the fact that I had achieved all of the things anyone could ask of me – the grades, awards, a scholarship – I still thought about packing my bags and running away. In fact, I didn’t just think about it. I actually packed my bags and prepared to run away.

I didn’t. I stayed. I went through the motions. Read the script. Played the part. Silenced the interesting, inquisitive, intensely driven person I wanted to become. So I would fit it. I needed approval. I got it. I heard things like,  Oh, that Joe – he’s got it together.

Are you kidding me? I felt like an imposter. I didn’t *and don’t* have anything together. I was losing my mind. Trapped in a life that didn’t feel like my own. Then I hit rock bottom. After that, I just gave up.

What happened when I gave up

Okay, I didn’t TOTALLY give up. It’s not like I sold all of my worldly possessions and took off Into the Wild. Although, I did sell a lot of my stuff – clothes, television, nick-nacks that were cluttering my life. More importantly I decluttered my brain. Ultimately, what I gave up was the mindset that had become pervasive in my life. The idea that I had to accept things as they were because I wasn’t capable of changing them on my own.

Wrong! I was. I would. I did. I’m still working on it. You can too. Start by giving up these 10 things.

1. Needing approval. The best way to get approval is to not seek it in the first place. I can’t remember where I read that, but I know it’s true. A pat on the back is nice. A little recognition. Or validation. Cool. But, in the end, the only person you need to prove anything to is yourself. You set the standards. You have to live up to them.

2. Worrying. Thinking about what could be. Agonizing over what might have been. If or when. This or that. It’s all a waste of time. It’s soul sucking. It will zap your energy. Stifle productivity. It will render you helpless. Mainly because the explanation you crave doesn’t exist.

Many of life’s hard situations cannot be explained. They can only be endured, mastered, and gradually forgotten. – James Gordon Gilkey

3. Placing blame. Taking responsibility for your actions is the best and fastest way to take ownership of your life. Why are things the way they are? Because of a decision YOU made. The situation – good or bad – you find yourself in is the result of something you did or didn’t do. That’s it. No one else. No sob story. No explanation. Your actions and decisions, or lack thereof, determine your outcome. What’s your move?

4. Judging. Things are not good or bad, they just are. Don’t try to explain or ascribe meaning. Most of the time there is no explanation (see #2 – worrying). Accept it. Move on. Similarly, don’t try to define, label or judge people. We all have a story. Some tell it. Others burry it. We all have to live with it.  Seek to understand. But, never judge. Don’t try to change them either. Do this instead – go be awesome. People will notice. Then they’ll want to change for themselves.

5. Complaining. You’re having a bad day? Poor you. No one really cares. I don’t say it to be rude. I’m just being honest. I don’t feel bad. Do you know why? I have my own shit to worry about. So does everyone else. Please stop pushing your bullshit on me. If something is wrong, don’t complain about it. Do something about it. Don’t be a part of the problem. Be your own solution. Or at least try to find a solution. If it doesn’t work, you can ask others for help. But you can’t sit around and complain.

6. Acceptance. Being different is a good thing. If you fit in, you’re doing it wrong. Try to be the guy or gal who is always pushing the limits. The one who is a little out there. Those are the people I want to hang out with. The ones with ideas. The same people who make change and get shit done. Being accepted is a myth of mediocrity. They – the man – want you fit in. To compromise, To give up your sense of self. You’re easier to control when you do. You’ll be a cog in the machine. Another employee. Following the rules. Don’t do it. Don’t accept things as they are. Don’t seek acceptance at all.

Find out what the majority of people are doing and do exactly the opposite – Earl Nightengale

7. Comparing. You are you. I am me. Our lives are different. Our experiences, opportunities and skills – different. The same can be said of our fear, hopes, dreams and weaknesses. It’s impossible to compare us without knowing those things. Even then, it probably won’t make sense. Why some people succeed and others fail. Why I have this and you have that. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that you figure out what makes YOU happy. Then go work at it. With all you have.

8. Waiting. Tick, tock. Time is wasting my friend. Why not now? Oh, you’re waiting for the perfect time. The ideal moment when the world stops spinning long enough for you to figure out what you really want to do. Good luck with that. I have one thing to say. It’s never going to happen. If you continue to put off your dreams your life will always be a nightmare. Start now. Do something. Try anything. As long as it’s inline with who you want to become, it’s the right thing. If you do it now, it’s the right time.

9. Excuses. It’s all on you. Success and failure. Happiness. Doom and gloom. Gratitude. Regret. You name it and you control it. If you can’t control it, you can control the way you think about things or respond to them. You could let this scare you. “Oh no, it’s all on me!?” It might seem like a lot of pressure. Instead of making excuses for why or how things happen, you could choose to think about it differently. I do. “F*ck yes! You mean to tell me my success and failure are up to me. Within my control. Best thing I’ve ever heard.” Now all you have to do is add hard work, hustle if you will, and all excuses – from now until forever – will cease to exist.

I am the happiest man alive. I have that in me that can convert poverty to riches, adversity to prosperity, and I am more invulnerable than Achilles; Fortune hath not one place to hit me. ― Thomas Browne

10. The past. Oh man. This one is a biggie. Letting go. Or, giving up if you prefer. I do. I’m giving up, every day. Giving up the idea of who I thought I was. Giving up what I thought I knew. Giving up control and limitations. Going. Going. Gone. The only two thing that matters are 1.) the person I want to be today – the best version of myself. 2.) what I’m doing to achieve it. I’m giving everything else away.

You should try it, too. Start today. Give something away. It can be a physical thing or an emotion. A habit or household item. Doesn’t matter. Just give something away. Eventually, you’ll be able to give away those confused, unhappy emotions that got you into this mess in the first place.

I’ll leave you with this. The stealthy storyline behind this article. Are you willing to give away the things that bring you comfort in order to have the things that will bring you happiness?

Prove it!