Most of our troubles stem from attachment to things that we mistakenly see as permanent. — Dalai Lama
Last week, we explored how gratitude can help us to appreciate our now compared to spending too much time thinking about the past or dreaming of the future.
Another way to work towards becoming better at living now is to let go of our attachments. That means to let go of any expectation for a specific outcome.
Typically, we struggle with that as we do have certain ideas about how things should go or how we want someone to behave.
However, life and people are not in our control.
If you’re expecting an apology from someone — because that is what that person should do — you might well wait forever since they can easily have a completely different view of what happened.
If you’re out and about on your way to an appointment and the traffic is just not flowing today, you will probably be late. Cursing about the driver in front of you who seems to go extra slow won’t change that.
The expectations we attach to things and our underlying desires are big topics in Buddhism. Desire and attachments are seen as sources of unhappiness.
If you think about it, it makes sense: desire is a feeling that is based on the lack of something. And without that something you won’t be happy.
The journey towards happiness is to give our desires less power and with that not attach ourselves too strongly to our expectations.
It’s not about not having goals or not following your dreams. It’s about not holding on to expectations, or when and how to achieve something specific. It means being able to let go when something turns out differently than you imagined.
Let’s look at an example to make this more tangible.
Imagine your desire is to become financially free.
First of all, make that desire conscious: Think about what you attach with that: e.g. having a lot of free time, living without worry, being able to spend money on exceptional experiences, access to beautiful places, great food — your life is going to be just great. Imagine the exact outcome of making your desire a reality.
Second, imagine the complete opposite. Think about what happens when you become financially completely dependent. How will you live and feel: chained to a job you hate, or a partner you don’t like, a burden on your family, you just get by or are on the verge of losing your home, living in the streets… make it extreme, even if it seems over-the-top. This exercise can help you to understand your underlying fears and beliefs. Making your fears and beliefs conscious gives them less power over you.
Now, let’s go back to setting your intention to actually become financially free. Maybe you want to write down what you want. Be specific.
Imagine how you hold your intentions lightly in your hand. Let them fly away mentally. Trust the idea that whatever outcome you will get is what’s intended to happen.
It’s like Eckhart Tolle said: “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.”
Think about your very own desires and attachments and then release them step by step.
Letting go will enable you to relax at the present moment as you will increase your trust in the process.
It will help you to understand and appreciate that what you want might come to you in a different form than expected.
Let go, be open to what life has to offer to you, and have a happier today.
Get in touch at carolin @ freedomxx.com