Imagine this: a grand presentation in college, 200 eager faces fixated on me. And what did I do? I had a total meltdown in my head! I stood there, a bewildered doofus under the spotlight, clueless and speechless. The embarrassment haunted me for years, like an annoying ghost that just wouldn’t leave. I mean, I’ve been rocking it since second grade, so what happened to me that day remains a mystery. But here’s the deal, my friends: forgiving yourself is a skill worth mastering and seizing. It’s the first step towards embracing self-love. So let go of that cringe-worthy past like a boss! Dwelling on it won’t magically erase that unforgettable moment, trust me.

Imagine your journey through life as a hike up a mountain. You’ve got everything you need in your backpack to make it to the top. But you’re also carrying some dead weight: your emotional baggage. Let’s face it, it’s a lot to lug around, even if you’ve got one of those fancy bags with wheels. So, take a moment to unpack that stuff. You don’t need it weighing you down on your journey. Trust me, your shoulders will thank you.

Do you want to be a victim of the past, or do you want to create your life from this present moment? Originally, Lao Tzu was credited with saying this, then Junia Bretas, and most recently the hot potato landed on Warren Buffet; whatever the case, this quote just fits, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” And the present is just peachy.

We are energetic beings, and when you wake up in the morning, your energy is already sapped because some of it is going into feeding the past by reliving it and having such strong negative emotions associated with it. In doing so, you allow the past to affect your present-day emotions.

Think about how much you learn and grow in one year, let alone ten. You are not the same person who made those mistakes in the past. Instead of living in the past, you should be focusing on the moment you’re in currently. This will help you live a full life based on how you are feeling right at that moment instead of operating from a place of conditioning or wounds.


I know it’s not easy to let go of the hurt you live with every day, but it isn’t serving you any positive purpose. I found that out when I had a fight with my younger brother when we were kids. He and I disagreed on something (I can’t even remember what at this point) and we didn’t talk for two whole days. It was a lonely two days. We both felt each other’s absence and forgave one another without prejudice. We just couldn’t take the isolation and being deprived of the camaraderie. Forgiveness is a trait that we all possess, and now it’s a trait we must harness.

Staying stuck on the flypaper of past emotions will hold you back from achieving your full expression in this life, so you must forgive those parts of you. You don’t need to stay there but, instead, learn the lesson and grow. Holding on to negative emotions or situations will keep you from the fierce love it takes to achieve the peace and happiness we all aspire for.

Give yourself forgiveness for your past and whatever perceived bad thing you may or may not have done; give yourself a break. You are only human! Humans are flawed, imperfect things, no matter how “perfect” or “put-together” other people may seem. We have all done something that we’re not proud of. Like that one time when I was much younger, and I left my first internship without notice because I really didn’t like my boss. Ah, youth.

I’m sure every single person reading this book has felt guilt or shame to some degree at one point or the other. These emotions are normal but constantly dwelling on them is not. Release yourself from the shackles of pain and guilt. Forgive yourself for not knowing better at that time. Forgive yourself for doing the best you could with what was available to you and move on. Doing the best you could is a major accomplishment! Celebrate! Put on some masala chai and throw the confetti in the air.

Steven Colbert reflected on the idea for CNN’s Anderson Cooper show, and he said, “I don’t want it to have happened … but if you are grateful for your life … then you have to be grateful for all of it. You can’t pick and choose what you’re grateful for.”

Steps to forgiveness

Acknowledgement: The first step to forgiveness is acknowledging and confronting the emotions and memories that have caused you pain. It requires you to identify the source of your hurt and the reasons you feel the way you do. My friend and I had a falling out some years ago. She was the source of my hurt. It can be difficult to face these feelings head on, but it’s necessary to move forward towards forgiveness.

Expressing yourself: Now that you have acknowledged the issue, it’s time to express all your feelings. Hurt, anger, grudges, negative emotions, whatever you’re feeling, express all of them. One study concluded that holding on to grudges really just gives the power over to the other person. In addition, it can contribute to health problems, such as an increased heart rate, obesity and even heart disease. Instead of holding on to it, talk about it out loud, write those feelings down, whatever works best for you. Just pour it out. One thing to remember is that it’s okay to feel this way. It’s okay to be angry or hurt over what happened.

• Lessons: Every experience, good or bad, has a lesson for you to learn and grow. It’s essential to recognise what you can learn from your past experiences. Ask yourself what this situation is trying to teach you, what qualities of yours came out because of it, and how it can help you become a better person. Most importantly, how would you feel once you let go of this resentment and accept these new lessons?

• Gratitude and compassion: It’s time to show your gratitude, first to the universe for all the situations it put you in and second to yourself for emerging from them strongly and becoming a better person. I know it might sound odd, but being grateful for hard times helps us to be positive and hopeful for the future; it also helps us to be compassionate towards ourselves. It really shows us what we’re made of.

Remember, only when we let go of the past can we heal and have a better present and future – because healing starts with forgiveness. Only when we forgive ourselves can we forgive others more easily and heal faster. It’s a rather straightforward formula. So take the time to work through your past and learn to let go of any negative emotion. You’ll be amazed at how much lighter you feel. Since I forgave my friend, I harbour no ill feelings towards her. I hope she lives a good life.

Excerpted with permission from The Happiness Story: Unlocking the Secrets to Living Your Best Life, Savi Sharma, HarperCollins India.