A common lesson that keeps showing up for me on my journey is the idea of attachment vs. letting go. I believe Happiness is an art form and to enjoy it you must learn to cultivate your talent like an artist. Without this understanding people rest in a state of disconnection from true joy. When you plug into and internalize this idea you have learned what I believe is The Art of Happiness.
To learn any craft takes a healthy dose of discipline, the discipline to understand your own methods and patience to establish the most effective way for you to enjoy your art form. One thing that has not changed for me, not even for a minute, is my desire to change, evolve and succeed. I needed to learn The Art of Happiness to move forward. It is that urgency, commitment and discipline that have helped me internalize the lessons of attachment, one of the more challenging assignments for me personally.
Most of the suffering that I was experiencing, and that I see around me, is from people trying to control and shape every inch of their lives. There is never a moment to just accept and enjoy the moment as it is. Letting go is about understanding how the story you create and cling to is what is causing your pain, your fear, your stress. Clinging to something does not mean you keep it. It means your hands are occupied when what you really need is right in front of you. Learning to acknowledge attachment means you can begin to let go of what is not serving you.
A good way to absorb this lesson is by taking a look at the difference between attachment and love. Attachment is based in fear and dependency and focused on the self. Love without attachment is about giving to others and not asking anything in return. How much of your life is based in attachment and how much is based in love?
A wonderful example of this distinction is young love. Falling in love when you are young can be a stubborn, whimsical attachment to all you have learned love is supposed to be. Whether you have found your soul mate or are simply attached to an idea is hard to understand. Later, when you learn how love changes through time in every relationship around you, your tendency to attach and let go may change as well. With wisdom we can learn how to manage love, patience, cravings, desire, sadness, aversion, fear and all those human emotions that make us vulnerable. When you become brave enough to sit with your vulnerability and just experience life happening around you without attaching to it, you have truly let go.
Feeling happiness is an art form, it takes time and desire to cultivate the skills needed to manage a happy life. Feeling true happiness means learning the difference between love and indulgence, appreciation and extravagance. When you let go of overindulgence and embrace gratitude for what is, you let go of suffering. One of the hardest things to do is let go of something you really want, but that’s the only way to truly hold on to it.
“Stress is an alarm clock that let’s you know you’re attached to something that’s not true for you. A thought is harmless until we believe it. It’s not our thoughts but our attachment to our thoughts that causes suffering.” -Byron Katie
“Sometimes we are so attached to our way of life that we turn down a wonderful opportunity simply because we don’t know what to do with it.” -Paulo Coelho
“You only lose what you cling to” -Buddha
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