When Letting Go Is Better Than Holding On

Once in a while I run into an inspirational story on the Internet or my social media platforms that really speaks to me and makes me examine my life.  Usually I would combine the discovered piece and put my own spin on it to make it more personal.  But when I found this thought-provoking story shared by Science is Madness I realized that it illustrates the idea beautifully and perfectly, and that there was no need for my input.


Let go or be dragged. ❤ Zen Proverb
“A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience.   As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question.  Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”
 Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter.  It depends on how long I hold it.  If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem.  If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm.  If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water.  Think about them for a while and nothing happens.  Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt.  And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything. “It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses.  As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night.  Remember to put the glass down!”

Recently, I found myself in a situation that caused me to be resentful.  Normally, I try to practice a Zen philosophy, but the position and predicament I was in spiraled out of my control.  This caused me to feel depleted.  I was so thankful when I discovered the quote below, as it guided me to a place where I could let go and finally set my burden free.

“Sometimes to get what you want the most, you have to do what you want the least.” ― Jodi Picoult

Have you had to do something difficult lately that set you free? Have you come across something on the Internet or social media that made you stop and think?

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33 Replies to “When Letting Go Is Better Than Holding On

  1. Dear Ann,

    When I read the story, it immediately reminds me of what I experienced few years back with my previous job. Being in a corporate world where everybody is chasing and fighting for quick promotion, salary raise, fast job execution, I just found myself trapped in that kind of situation whereby at the end of the day, I find myself still hanging on to the problems even after I got home. The stress eventually caught up with me and affected my relationship. After I decided to change job with is considered less hectic but with a lower salary, I just thought that the decisions which I’ve made may have been too drastic. Sometimes when I looked back, I just realized one thing, since there’s not much we can do to address the problem at work, the only way out is to adjust ourselves to cope up with it. And that is before we end the day to head home, just leave everything about work behind and walk out in peace. Your thoughts?

  2. This is so important to ease worries. One thing I think of if I cannot let go of something, is to put it into a mental closet for the night, or for the day or week. I tell myself that it’s going to stay in the closet, as I know it is an important thing of concern. I may take it out the next day or so, but only for a short time… maybe 10 minutes. Then I have to hang it back up, along with any other burdens or stresses hanging there. Sometimes these worries can be removed from the closet, because they have solved themselves, or I have managed to see that they actually should be in someone else’s closet, not mine. In this way I see my way to eventually let go of things, especially things that I can’t fix anyway. It’s not productive to worry over things that are out of my control. Unfortunately, my closet usually has plenty of things inside, but I try not to open it too often.

  3. We are all familiar with the glass “half full” or “half empty” idea, but I had not thought about the length of time we hold on to that glass as being a profound idea. It is! I am working on a concept called the Golden Hour that I learned in a training class recently — reading 10 pages of a good book, writing down things I’m grateful for, and setting up the next day’s schedule each evening. It seems to center me. Thanks!

    1. Hello Cheryl,

      Yes, it’s a fantastic story from Science is Madness and it sticks with me as well. I will share this story many times…


  4. Hi Ann, thank you for the post. I love the Serendipity of social media. This is something I needed to hear just at this moment. I’ve been carrying a grudge for a while b/c of some blatantly unfair treatment by the community I live in. I’ve been beating my head against a sad brick wall trying to convince them of my worth and my biz plan to get their investment. The number of times they’ve overlooked me for others would’ve brought another to his/her knees a long time ago, but I’ve foolishly continued to have a go at the same town in the meantime finding my ideas circulating and being used by others in this same community in highly significant ways. Silly me. I needed to let go of them a long time ago and set my sails for greener pastures which I’ve finally begun to do and the traction is much greater. I have to just let the other go. Keeping the grudge and the anger is just weighing me down. No point in casting pearls before swine. This helped me finally realize that. Thank you! What’s the old adage, teaching a pig to sing… it wastes my time and the pig will only get annoyed at me.

  5. Thank you for sharing this important and relevant piece of advice. A great reminder and an awesome quote. It helped me… Thank you, Ann.

  6. Hi Ann,

    Thanks so much for sharing this. All too often we look at a situation/problem in an extremely linear fashion. Is the glass half full or half empty?

    Taking a step back and reframing situations is so critical and it allows ourselves to see life through an entirely different filter. We can then free our minds and let go of the resentment or fear that is limiting us.

    Awesome post!

    1. Hi Geoff,

      Thank you but I would have to give credit to Science is Madness, it seems this post really resonates with a lot of people. I am always glad to make a contribution and share a story that will help others.


  7. Hello Ann,Good to have stumbled upon your blog post, shared by Jeanette on Facebook.

    Yes, ‘Letting go’ seems to be the theme of the month for me and it is no coincidence that i read your post. It is true that letting go frees us from what no loner serves us or is unhealthy for us. Sometimes our egos make us forget this, which explains why we hold on to these problems longer and end up magnifying them. It may be easier said than done, and when we realize that it weighs us down, we can always center ourselves and get in the right attitude.

    Thank you for the reminder.
    Jeannie. ( @reallyjeannie)

    1. Hello Jeannie,

      I love your analogy of magnifying the situation, I did that for years and still need to work on it.

      Thank you for sharing,

  8. Yes. I have come across something on social media that got mixed up with a dream that got spun into a web that was very tricky to get untangled from…

    I knew I wanted out because the situation was very unhealthy but I kept getting lured back by the manipulation of my dreams until I reached a point where I was finally ready to let go. I held that glass of water for a year and did feel paralyzed, but I wasn’t.

    The key for me was realizing that it was a choice that got me into the situation and a choice to let go and never look back. A very good choice 🙂

  9. Dear Ann,

    This puts a new light in my thoughts today: “Sometimes to get what you want the most, you have to do what you want the least.” ― Jodi Picoult

    I have been scaling back to find more peace and quiet. Whenever I get frazzled, I remember to sing the Peace hymn “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.” It really works! It’s impossible to be overwhelmed while feeling peace flow through me.

    Thank you for always being such a great inspiration Ann.

    Love & Joy to you,

    1. Hello Jeanette,

      The phrase “All is well” is a great affirmation that I use quite often.

      Wishing you a joyful & a lovely weekend!


  10. I have been holding to the glass for too long. It’s time to put it down and rest. The article is really helpful. Life. You are a true inspirtion!!!


  11. I love it Ann. I think this is particularly true for relationships too. In the McPadden household, we never let any disagreements or hurt feelings last, we talk about it and then let go. Sometimes keeping whatever is inside us and not talking about it and resolving early will only tend to put a strain in a relationship.

    1. Hello Misty,

      It’s so simple; you just have to let it go… Same rule over this house hold.(ˆ◡ˆ)


  12. Thanks for sharing Ann! Letting go of things is really hard especially when you’re so involved. What’s made me stop and think about it is my family. I don’t have time to be involved in everything 100% anymore which means I have to train and trust others and let go. I owe it to my family to do that.

  13. Love this illustration Ann. On many occasions I’ve held the glass too long. It became an unhealthy habit. More and more I’m learning to put the glass down. I think learning this one thing has brought more peace in my life than any other personal change.

  14. Wow this is an awesome story Ann…thanks for sharing!
    Many times the right thing to do is always the hardest thing to do….that’s what makes you a leader and sets you apart from everyone else who take the easy way out….you are loved!

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