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4 Powerful Tips to Reduce Resentment and Feel Happier

“Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.” ~Buddha

Life is short. Time spent feeling angry or resentful about things that happened or didn’t happen is time squandered.

What’s that? You think those feelings motivate you and help you get things done? Hogwash! If you’re honest with yourself, you realize getting things done isn’t the end goal. The goal is to feel fulfilled and happy.

Accomplishments fueled by resentment and anger seldom contribute to serenity and fulfillment. More importantly, the moments you spent crossing things off your to-do list with a scowl slip away without giving you anything positive. They’re gone; never to return.

Resentment is like a cancer that eats away at time—time which could have been filled with love and joy.

Here are four powerful tips to reduce resentments and live a happier life.

1. Think loving thoughts for the person you resent.

You’re probably thinking, “You can’t be serious.” Hear me out.

What’s the opposite of anger, hate, or fear? That’s right: love. By sending only love toward someone, praying that they receive all the wonderful things you want for yourself in life, you’re slowly chiseling away at negative emotions that do you more harm than good. Don’t believe me? Try it.

Whether or not you believe in prayer, you can still set aside time during the day to think loving thoughts about someone you resent, wishing them good fortune and blessings. Say it out loud, “God/Buddha/Creator/Universe/Door Knob/etc.: please give love, health and peace to Lisa today.”

At first it will most likely feel awkward and meaningless, not to mention difficult. It may take weeks, months, or even years, but eventually you’ll notice where there were once ill feelings, now there is peace and love. And that you start actually meaning it!

A good rule of thumb for this exercise is trying it every day for at least for fourteen days.

2. Check your motives and expectations.

The best way to eliminate resentment is not to set yourself up for it.

For example, think about when people ask you to do things for them. You probably form expectations about what they’ll do for you in return. If there’s a hint of what’s in it for me, chances are you’re headed for some resentment.

This can be difficult to assess before taking action. If a friend is moving (again) and asks for your help (again) maybe you’re thinking to yourself “I better help because I know I’ll need it when I move next year.”

Next year when you move what happens if your friend doesn’t show up? Booyah!

When you give without expectations—only when you’re comfortable giving for the sake of it—you’re less likely to resent people for letting you down.

3. Be grateful.

A heart that is full of gratitude has little room for conceits or resentment. I utilize something called a gratitude list. Whenever I’m feeling stressed, resentful, or angry, I put pen to paper and write down at least ten things I’m grateful for in that particular moment.

It’s difficult to resent what you don’t have when you’re focusing your energy on what you do have.

4. Stay open to different outcomes.

The key to finding happiness is realizing that you already possess everything you need to be happy. When you realize happiness is an inside job, you’re less apt to place demands on other people and situations.

Reducing resentment takes practice and mindfulness. First, you have to become aware of how they manifest and why. A few summer’s ago I had the perfect opportunity to do just that.

I was looking forward to the first weekend my fiancé and I would get to enjoy our pool since we opened it for the summer. I had been thinking about this all week, planning to relax with a good book and soak up some rays.

Saturday morning came and we had to deliver a new paint sprayer to my fiancé’s son and his wife, who were preparing to paint their new home. Subconsciously, or maybe consciously, I knew a nice paint sprayer would save them time and ultimately get us out of having to help.

Upon arriving, we realized they’d already begun painting and didn’t want or need the sprayer. That’s okay I thought, at least we tried. Then out of no where my fiancé offered our help for the day! What was she doing? Didn’t she know the important commitment of lounging I had planned for today?

I could feel the resentment rising from deep inside as I visualized my lazy afternoon vanish into sweat and countless trips up and down a ladder. Being mindful, I recognized this and removed myself from the situation.

I found a quiet spot under a tree and sat to meditate for a minute. I asked for acceptance, guidance, and willingness, and sat there quietly and concentrated on my breathing. Then it came to me in a flash. It was simple and profound:

Years from now, what will I remember the most—the day I sat by the pool doing nothing or the day I helped my future stepson and his wife paint their house?

The choice was easy. The day turned out perfect, and I learned a powerful lesson about expectations. It’s okay to have them at times, but the ability to be happy and experience peace at any given moment is not contingent on how I expected an event to occur.

We all have the ability to manage expectations, change our state of mind, and ultimately be happy regardless of how we expect things will unfold.

Pretty cool and powerful I think.

Photo by flickoholic 

Avatar of Jared Akers

About Jared Akers

Jared Akers is a writer and tester of the impossible. He writes, inspires, and enjoys helping people learn How to Be Happy. He's been developing a life of happiness with his wife for the better part of the last decade while sharing his journey at JaredAkers.com.

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  • Spell Check Boy

    “I found a quite spot under a tree and sat to mediate for a minute.”

    You meant “quiet” and “meditate” perhaps?

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you! I missed those when editing. I appreciate that you pointed it out.

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  • http://twitter.com/mishti_mythri positive

    hi Jared..a Q.should we still pray for the person who has deceived,cheated us? is it ok not to be attached to that person, so that there is no chance to resent or hate him?

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  • http://twitter.com/jbrickzin Jesse Brickzin

    What a great read..something i really need to work on.

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  • Guest

     How do you give without expectations and not get taken advantage of?

  • Cheeky_tita

    Thank you for this beautiful read.  I love it your tips.  I was once in this state of resentment towards someone, although I have forgiven that person and have moved on I still find your tips of good use. I will be reading more for sure. Thanks heaps. 

  • http://jaredakers.com Jared Akers

    Positive, that’s a great question. And firstly, I sooo apologize for not replying to this post a year ago. I can’t believe I didn’t follow this. My sincere apologies.

    I pray for everyone, and specifically those who have cheated or deceived me. That is mainly “if” I feel resentment towards them. Sure it’s OK not to be attached to a person, in my opinion. Again, these are just my opinions based on experience. But if I’m thinking about that person, giving them energy and time in my mind – whether it’s resentment, anger, or whatever, I pray for them. And always that they have all the things I want in my own life.

  • http://jaredakers.com Jared Akers

    Thanks!

  • http://jaredakers.com Jared Akers

    Thanks. I’m still working on it. :-)

  • http://jaredakers.com Jared Akers

    Ah, that is a good question.

    I don’t think it’s possible to give without expectation and get taken advantage of. That’s the whole idea of no expectations. You don’t expect anything in return so what happens (no emotional investment in the outcome) makes no difference. If I’m giving something, and then feel I’ve been taken advantage of, then my “giving” in the first place had conditions attached. In that case, I need to check my motives.

  • http://jaredakers.com Jared Akers

    Thanks Lori.

  • Nico

    Resentment is in me every day towards a person I love more than he will ever know. And who I’ve given and lost everything to. Although different situations, your story hits home. Bookmarked this, I’ll be reading it every day for awhile probably.

  • J

    Thank you.

  • Eson Crist

    Try loving someone you hate? That is a tall order. What if we just loved ourselves instead??? I don’t want to give any positive energy to a person who produces negative energy. I would just be enabling them. Right?

  • SerialSeeker

    Hi Jared,
    Enjoyed reading your posts, make a lot of sense and the practical advice about how to cultivate some of the seemingly difficult habits is doable.
    I have been a regular meditator (which includes japa chanting also) for a long long time but the happiness I am after still eludes me. I can tell because the first time I was introduced to meditation about 36 years ago, I was feeling and performing at the top of the world for a good 4 months period. I have never regained that state ever except for a few and far between glimpses over a much much shorter periods.
    Is there anything like trying too hard in meditation? During the day whenever I try to bring my mind back to an anchor (like breath or japa), I feel guilty about 9 out 10 times because I am snapping back and punishing myself that I did not remember it to do it right. This or anything else I might be doing wrong is driving me crazy. How do I breask out of this mental stagnation? Please advise.
    The Serial Seeker

  • Baxx

    Hi Jarad, thanks for such a good read. I battle with resentment from a totalitarian upbringing. My father still stands by his methods, even though three out of his four children are now drug/alcohol dependent. My point is, letting go of the anger takes a life long commitment. I’ve succeeded shaking it in the past but it always comes back somehow. Not nice when it now affects my new family. All I want is to be free of it all! Your simple methods seem the most logical I’ve heard yet. I’m going to try them. Thanks

  • Deep Chauhan

    nice post Jared , but i think accepting our basic human emotions, learn from experience and moving ahead is better option instead giving labels to thoughts hate and love or praying for someone…. spirituality and kindness has great power but also we need to make practical decisions…..

  • saloni

    Hi. :)

    I don’t have words to thank you for this post has
    given me new hope. People around me have been treating me badly and in
    an unforgivable manner because it seems i no longer serve their purpose.
    totally brought me down and i stopped trusting people . This post came out of no where and totally enlightened me :) Words do change peoples life :)

  • Kathe

    Thank you Jared! You’ve helped me today – and the person I was feeling resentment towards :D

  • Arielle

    I wish my boyfriensd would read this and use it as a guide to help him w all the resentment t,and anger he has toward me. Its sad and im scared he will never get over it all and move along without the negitive things and we will break up

  • Matt Nixon

    Nice post. Food for thought. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Please read all of this, I really need your help.

    I’ve just turned 16 and I want to know why I’ve resented my dad my whole life while loving my mother so much. I remember when I was young (I’m sure it was when I was at least over 5) remembering how “I hated my dad”. But that resentment has grown even stronger; I cringe when he touches me – I genuinely feel uncomfortable when he touches me – I’d rather he didn’t. I can’t help sometimes when he tries to talk to me that I snap at him, somethings I feel bad for it, sometimes I just try and push it away and not care about it. I usually want distance from him, sometimes I want him around but rarely. I live with him and my cousin, you see. But it’s weird because sometimes I vaguely miss him and want him to come home, such as when he’s late from coming home – like really late – I start to worry that something bad may have happened to him. If I resent and hate him so much, why do I worry about if something bad has happened to him? Maybe it’s because of my own selfishness that I wouldn’t be able to live in the same house again, get the same money from him, or; not be able to enjoy the same standard of living that I have begin to get accustomed to since moving back in with him in June, 2012.

    On to the topic of whether he physically or mentally abused me: the simple answer is no – no abuse. However, he did “beat me” when I really got on his nerves when I was small, I was a trouble maker you see, and when I say trouble maker I honestly mean one of the worst so it’s understandable if he lost control and beat me lots of times. Whenever he did it though my mum would feel sorry for me and get involved and try to stop it. I think that’s why I love my mum so much and resent my dad. I DID deserve the beatings he gave me, I was, like I said, a very troublesome child – still am LOL. However, I can’t help but think if that’s the cause, since resentment is the indignation of having being treated unfairly by someone. If I did deserve it, then it was fair. I’m sure there were some situations where I didn’t deserve it – I think I can remember one situation where my dad came up and apologized to me – I don’t remember what happened but that he must have realized he was in the wrong. He always did apologize for when he beat me afterwards, maybe not immediately, but he did – not always though. But anyway, I don’t care about that; the past is the past.

    What I DO think is the reason is because I’m bisexual – verging on homosexual – if that makes sense – and the fact that I can’t be myself around him may have contributed towards my resentment at feeling trapped around him, because I do feel trapped. For example, I have friends – all of them girls – and I am literally dead embarrassed for my dad to see or know them in case he might think I’m gay – which I am. Whenever I ask to go out with my “friends” – whom he has never met and is obviously, as a father, concerned about who I may be associating myself with – especially being that I’m 16, and as a concerned father, would want to meet them. But I just simply can’t do it, it would be so awkward and embarrassing. Whenever I bring my friends over, my dad is never at home, I make sure of it. Otherwise, I just could not be myself and would retreat into becoming a reserved and shy person, definitely not as outgoing as I would generally be with my friends when he isn’t around. So yeah, I have “friends” – and that’s all my dad knows, pretty sad isn’t it? Sad that I can’t bring my friends around my dad? But the good thing about it all is that I don’t really want to, it’s not that I want to, it’s just that it’d be better for convenience purposes. Another example of my irrational behaviour is when I get phone calls from my friends. (and by the way; my friends are acutely aware of the situation between me and my dad, and we all assume it’s because I’m not straight and haven’t come out to him yet, but the problem is that I don’t understand how all that resentment and bitterness towards him could be just because of that?) So, back to phone calls from friends: I am so shy and embarrassed to answer phone calls or to talk on the phone to my friends when my dad is in the house and can possibly hear the conversation, possibly because what I want to talk about could “give away” my sexuality, which is something that is clearly not what I want to happen. And the fact that I have to decline or ignore phone calls from my friends because of him makes me feel trapped and annoyed – not necessarily at him, but at the situation – and I’d just rather that I can actually have a phone call.

    As you can already see, the problem – or shall we say barrier – for me to be myself is him. I think I’ve answered my question but I’d like your take on this as you seem so wise. What is causing the resentment towards my father?

    Oh, and just some extra details, I found out I was bi/gay when I was 12, but already ‘partially’ resented – or just didn’t like or get on with my father before that anyway.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi there,

    I just read through your comment. I will do my best to help.

    After you wrote the part about not being abused, I was surprised to read that your father beat you. In my eyes, that’s abuse. He used physical force as punishment–and clearly felt it was wrong because he apologized to you. And your mother tried to stop it, which means it must have been pretty intense. Even if you think you were a “bad kid” (which I doubt you were), you did not deserve to be physically violated in that way. In fact, it’s possible you acted out because you were being abused.

    Based on what you wrote, it seems like you feel like you can’t share your real self with your father, and you have to go to great lengths to hide it. When you add that to the abuse–and the fact that you’ve labeled yourself as bad and deserving of punishment as a consequence of it–it makes sense that you’d resent him.

    Have you ever talked to your mother about these feelings? Have you shared anything with her about your sexuality? Just knowing you’re not alone with the weight of all this could help a great deal. It might even help to show everything you wrote here to her or someone you trust (or a therapist, if that’s something to consider). It may take you a while to fully understand and work through your feelings about your father–but the good thing is you’re starting now!

    I hope I’ve helped somewhat.

    Lori

  • Christian

    Am so grateful to this great man DR.OLOKUN who has brought back happiness to my life,At first i taught he was a scam,Because i saw a testimony about him how he helped someone in bringing back her ex within 48hours so i decided to give him a chance in bringing back my lover back to me who left me for 5years,So DR.OLOKUN said my lover will come back to me soon,So really when the 48hour was completed my lover Frank called me and said he was sorry and that he was ready to make it up with me,Am so grateful to DR.OLOKUN,Please in-case you are in need of help you can contact him on is private mail priestolokun@yahoo.com.From Gillian

  • Jonathan

    How can i change myself if i lie so much and feel so much resentment to them
    i have tried so much to change myself and it hurts

  • ariesfemme

    Hi Jared, first of thank you so much for taking the time and thought to write this relevant post. I agree that following the above approach would help curb resentment, but what I fear is that it might give people the impression that I am a pushover. What if they end up taking my good nature for granted? Isn’t it human nature to exploit any form of perceived or real weakness in others!

  • Kei

    That’s the problem I have, so when it says “WHEN” you’re comfortable giving that’s the key. Don’t ever be a yes man, it’s o.k. to say no. By the way being truthful about another’s weakness should always be done with love and ppl don’t ever like hearing the truth but they have to respect it.

  • kaless47

    This is good ….BUT…..#1 is not happenin…..

  • adriana

    Its hard to try this when your just so angry. Especially when you have to see this person every single day. It just gets me more angry and more unhappy. I want to forgive but everytime I think of it, I get even more angry than I was before.

  • yoyo_resentment

    I have two resentments: 1) work. i accomplish something and my manager’s manager looks at him (who did nothing but nitpick) and says thank you for a job well done. I delivered that damn project! 2) marriage. my spouse has done some things that equal ultimate betrayal, dishonesty, and a total lack of character, responsibility, and empathy. She wants says she wants to make it work. I just can’t forgive and forget. Let alone love again.

  • DD

    to be honest, after I read this and looked at your photo, I found myself really resenting you

  • DD

    not trying to be funny here, its just really sad and the fact that the few seconds of fleeting honesty I have about it exists in some anonymous message board of a website that I have NO IDEA how I got to.

  • Cara

    I would just like to say that Dr. Lee really does do miracles, my soulmate came to quicker than I thought he would. I would recommend her to any-one who needs help, and I will use Dr. Lee again for further work in the future. You can as well go to him if you need help. Contact him on his email address: Ancientfathersandmothers@gmail.com.

  • Anonymous

    You said that if you give without expectation then you’d not feel taken advantage of, but how about if you give and at a later date realise how by helping that person too much you had taken much needed time for yourself.
    I.e if you are revising for a test and a classmate asks for you to explain something and starts to continue to depend on you when she could have done like you did and seen the lecturer and got help from him . That way s/heis fullfilling the job they are being paid for you and you can focus in peace and reach your true potential

  • http://jaredakers.com/ Jared Akers

    Good question. It sounds like you were giving/helping for the right reason, but then realized later that maybe you should have taken time for yourself.

    Part of growing emotionally, is allowing others to do the same. e.g. allowing them to struggle and learn along the way as we did ourselves. In the situation you mentioned, it’s hard not to regret the time spent and wish you’d spent it on yourself.

    It feels good to help someone, that’s natural, but I think it’s also a gift that you realized they may be relying on you too much and not seeking help themselves or from the lecturer. The part that struck me in your comment is that you realized this at all! That’s something to be grateful for and always remember that every single one of us is doing the best we know how in any given situation at the time.

  • http://jaredakers.com/ Jared Akers

    I’ve always viewed my job as an employee, and boss, is that it’s my job to make my boss look good. And yes, sometimes that means they get kudo’s for something I did. But I can’t really control that and in the end have to have faith that my contributions will be recognized.

    I’ve also worked places where that was absolutely not the case! It was a very selfish environment and toxic for me so… after many sleepless nights and conversations with my wife, I walked away. That wasn’t easy but it was the right decision for me and everything seemingly “bad” in my life, taken from a learning perspective, has led me to where I’m at today and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    As for your manager, I’d suggest some of the exercises I listed in the article. e.g. send loving, positive wishes and energy their way. Yes… I know it sounds strange but really it works.

    As for the resentment with your spouse, I can totally relate! (at least in a previous marriage/relationship). In my case, I was a mess and pretty much manifested the things I feared the most. I had no idea how to communicate my wants and needs (because I really didn’t love self and know what I wanted) and thus felt betrayed when she left me.

    In any relationship, the most we can do is learn to love self first, then share our wants and needs with our partners and realize that their behavior towards us, really has nothing to do with us but them. It’s hard when you’re in a relationship, but we all grow as human beings and it’s important to be in a relationship where we can grow in a healthy manner, most importantly as an individual. And that means that sometimes we grow apart. For example, the person that I am today would never be in a relationship with some of the partners i had in the past, I simply would not allow myself to be treated that way.

    This is a passage from a great book called The Four Aggreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

    “In your whole life nobody has ever abused you more than you have abused yourself. And the limit of your self-abuse is exactly the limit that you will tolerate from someone else. If someone abuses you a little more than you abuse yourself, you will probably walk away from that person. But if someone abuses you a little less than you abuse yourself, you will probably stay in the relationship and tolerate it endlessly.”

    Best of luck to you and I apologize that it took me so long to leave a response.

  • http://jaredakers.com/ Jared Akers

    LOL, I know it’s sounds crazy. And I can relate to that response totally!!! If it ain’t time then it ain’t time. Actually, my wife felt this way about another lady she was working with a few years ago. I suggested this exercise to her and she said, NO WAY!! So… I prayed for her and eventually, she did also… reluctantly. Amazing things happened in the relationship as a result.

  • http://jaredakers.com/ Jared Akers

    Well said Kei.

  • http://jaredakers.com/ Jared Akers

    Being a pushover is certainly a concern, but that would still suggest we’re giving with an expectation. e.g. that we’ll be loved and accepted versus taken advantage of. I know it’s REALLY difficult and at sometimes impossible to not have some form of expectation from giving. But as we love self unconditionally, we need less re-enforcement externally, thus we quickly identify if someone is being selfish in what we’re offering. I was just thinking of a quote also, not sure if it applies but it’s what came to mind here:

    “No One Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent”
    - Eleanor Roosevelt

    And as my wife often says, “we set the rules for how we’re treated.”

  • http://jaredakers.com/ Jared Akers

    Most of my lies where in the form of either telling them things I thought they wanted to hear, or lying in an attempt to make them like me. I would lie about little things that didn’t even really matter! What I was doing was trying to control the way the world saw me through my words, NOT my actions!

    Once I learned to truly love my authentic self (it took some work) I realized that I could be honest with myself and others and still be OK. That I’m not responsible for others feelings (to some extent of course, I cannot say mean things) but then I don’t feel mean thoughts anymore so that’s not so much of a problem.

    The goal for me is to only give and receive love, that is what I wake up each day and pray for and practice. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but if I come from that mindset (with love of self first and foremost) I have no reason to lie. Thus as time goes on, resentments towards self disappear.

    Thanks for the comments and sorry took me so long to come back here and comment.

  • http://jaredakers.com/ Jared Akers

    Firstly, let me sincerely apologize for not replying to this along time ago.

    I feel for you and was too surprised as Lori that you said you weren’t abused but then described what I could certainly consider abuse. How confusing it would be to be hurt physically, and feeling that you deserve it and then have the person that hurt you apologize. Someone apologizes for feeling guilt over something they believe is wrong.

    And by the way NO ONE, regardless of what they’ve done deserves to be physically hurt… at least that’s my opinion because pain only begets pain.

    I resented my father into my adult hood for not being around as much when I was younger. He lived at home, but just worked (construction and farmed) so much that I rarely spent quality time with him that I remember. My mother taught me how to throw a baseball and all those things a father typically does. I’m very close with my mother also. We just “get” each other.

    Luckily I was able to emotional grow as an adult and work through many of those issues with therapists and counselors and was able to reconcile that resentment with my father before he suddenly passed away a few years ago.

    It’s certainly a complicated dynamic with a loved one that hurts us, but being able to share what you’re feeling (truly) with someone you trust (like Lori said your mother or Counselor) would really help I believe.

    You also mentioned that “If I resent and hate him so much, why do I worry about if something bad has happened to him? Maybe it’s because of my own selfishness that I wouldn’t be able to live in the same house again, get the same money from him…” I thought that was VERY interesting that you even thought about that, looking at your own motives for why you fear something happened to him. e.g. that you feel guilty for feeling scared that you’d lose something material. That’s completely natural and just a thought! It does not mean your selfish or a bad person!! We all have those thoughts, it’s just very introspective and emotionally intelligent of you to see that and share it. So thanks for that.

    I hope you’ve found some help in this area and things are better. I realize it’s been almost a year since you left this comment, and again I apologize for not seeing this comment sooner but thankful that Lori commented on your situation.

  • http://jaredakers.com/ Jared Akers

    You’re welcome.

  • http://jaredakers.com/ Jared Akers

    Thanks for the comment, means a lot. Words are powerful, thanks for reminding me. ;-)

  • Harkness Jagan

    My resentment stems from not wanting to put myself in a similar situation that hurt me in the past. Sure I am civil towards the person and don’t wish them hate (maybe a distant longing for something, even just something they overheard, to make them realize they were wrong and to fess up to it), but the distancing myself and refusing to be put in the situation again stirs up those feelings of resentment. It’s either I feel resentful and stay safe, or abolish my resentment and risk trusting them again.

  • http://jaredakers.com/ Jared Akers

    Harkness, you said something interesting in your comment, “It’s either I feel resentful and stay safe, or abolish my resentment and risk trusting them again.”

    We can only have resentments if our expectations aren’t met. So the key is ridding ourselves of expectations. So if we’re free of expectations through self love (in that we need less externally from others to validate our self-worth), then resentments are less likely.

    You said “risk trusting them again” – I’d ask myself what the betrayal of trust did to me? Meaning, did it make me hurt, angry, etc.? Then look at why I feel hurt or angry. Most often I feel hurt or angry because I simply don’t feel loved (unappreciated, taken advantage of, etc.). Deep down I somehow feel that validates the lack of love I have for self.

    I’ve found that if I truly accept and love who I am, very few people can really hurt me. And yes, it’s hard to not feel hurt or sad when someone breaks your trust. But remember it’s their issue, not yours.