It is a profound truth of life that attachment brings with it suffering. Yet, how often you forget this basic truth and cling to people, situations and things around yourself. When the basic goal of human life is to attain happiness, it is surprising how most people set themselves up for sorrow and disappointment by pinning their happiness to circumstances, people and things and clinging to them. Then, when loss comes – whether in form of a break up, a job layoff or transfer – they melt into grief.
If you want to be happy and content, you must learn to let go – whether it is the control of things, people or situations around you. It’s not easy to let go of attachment. You must practise this on a day-to-day basis, by changing the way you experience and interact with the world. Here are some simple ways of practising detachment in daily life.
Don’t Look Back
Accept every moment for what it is. Don’t try to turn your present into yesterday; that time has passed. Don’t waste energy and attention in trying to cling to this moment forever. Slip into the present and enjoy it while it lasts. Nothing in this world is permanent. If you fail to acknowledge this, it will only bring you pain.
Let Go of People
Know that every relationship in life – whether it is with parents, spouse, children, friends, colleagues, relatives, business partners or pets – is “need-based” owing to the requirements of security, safety, joy, pleasure or self-worth. If you can resolve these needs within you, there will be completeness in your aloneness and you won’t be attached. Attachments brings expectations and grief. Letting go of attachment does not mean you absolve yourself of all responsibility. It only means that you perform your duty joyfully with unconditional love and without expectation.
Let Go of the Past
Accept that you can’t change the past. What is done is done. Therefore, open the portals of your mind. You often cling to things, situations or people because you are comfortable with them and they make you feel happy or safe. Consider that new things, situations and people may affect you in the same way. The only way to find out is embrace change.
Let Go of Outcomes
Practice to let things be. This doesn’t mean that you don’t actively work for a better tomorrow. I am just suggesting that you make peace with the moment as it stands, and operate from a place of acceptance.
Release the desire to constantly know what’s going to happen. Life is full of uncertainty. Obsessing about tomorrow is a waste of time because there will always be a tomorrow on the horizon. There is no guarantee about how tomorrow will play out. Everything depends on how well you live today.
Let Go of Feelings
Understand that some pain is unavoidable. In life you will invariably lose things that matter and feel some pain. But this doesn’t have to be as bad as you think. Remember the saying: pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
So give voice to your feelings. Acknowledge them and then let them naturally transform. Write it down and toss it out. Write it down in a journal. Write a letter and burn it. Anything that helps you let go.
Know that you have the power to choose each moment how you experience things: with a sense of ownership, anxiety, and fear, or with a sense of freedom, peace and love. And remember that your present and future, your life in fact, hinges on the choice you make.