What makes us happy? Have you ever set your heart on something happening in your life, only to find it doesn’t fulfill you?
Success, fame, and love: these are the sorts of things we often strive for, thinking that when we achieve them, we will feel happy.
We have ideas, we set goals, make plans, and we strive. We think that if we ‘get there’ we will be happy- the better job or promotion, an income figure or a new car, or maybe a love partner or other relationship.
The problem is, it makes you happy, but just for the moment. but before you know it, there’s something else we must achieve to feel fulfilled. How do you break the cycle and be happy right now?
Let’s talk about that dirty word ‘attachment’.
When I first learned of this from a yoga teacher, I didn’t understand why I should let go of the things I love and enjoy- like good food, good company, and a fine bottle of wine. That’s for people who don’t enjoy life! Monks and aesthetics! It took many years to get it, and the patience of kind and caring teachers: attachment to the things is being dependant on what’s outside you!
Our possessions give us momentary pleasure. If you give too much importance to them, we start to find that we always want more. Even though you get this, we are bombarded with messages that the latest, the newest is desirable- Apple has made a fortune on this!
Attachment can also be a problem when we reach for goals. With the help of much research on happiness, I have found out that the final outcome of my goals will give me little joy. It’s how we are wired. Our brain just doesn’t get rewarded when we struggle for months or even years to achieve some success like more money or fame.
Instead, we get tired, lose motivation, and feel unhappy. When and if we ever get there, the reward doesn’t satisfy, setting us up to struggle once again. Or we just give up and feel we can’t achieve what we want and accept dissatisfaction.
Research has shown that the endorphin hit, or joy reaction in the brain is relatively the same no matter how big the accomplishment. Since a small achievement gives your mind and body the same amount of satisfaction as a large one, the answer is to break our journey into as many small achievable goals as possible That way, we are always getting a hit.
For instance, my goal is to build a successful business. While my long term ambition may be a certain sales figure or a number of students, I break down the big goal to tiny pieces.
Like writing this blog…
Today I woke up feeling discouraged. (Truly) The to-do list of an entrepreneur is often overwhelming- what task is important vs. urgent. Sometimes it feels like I don’t get anywhere!
Luckily, I have tools to combat this. I know I’ll feel better by accomplishing something small and within my control. I can’t control how many people enroll, but I can write a blog every week to educate people on the value of my offerings.
Just doing the first draft created a whole lot of good feelings in my mind and body! Since the process of growing my business is sharing what I’ve learned so I can help people, every week I can a few good endorphins rush every time I take a step towards accomplishing that task.
Instead of being dependant on that sales figure, I make sure to acknowledge and rejoice every step of the way! The process doesn’t rely on any one’s opinion or actions either, except my own. Hopefully, this drives me to continue doing what needs to be done toward my goal. That’s what all those gurus are talking about when the urge us to live in the moment.
The same goes for fame.
We all like to be appreciated, even approved of. We may be very disappointed with this, as it’s very hard to get people’s attention! It’s still true too, that the results are fleeting. Unless we are surrounded by fans at all times, we are not getting the feel-good endorphin hit. Maybe you would like to find someone to love. Pin all your hopes on that and you’ll seem nothing but desperate, driving away potential partners.
That’s the reason that you need to let go- then all of a sudden, someone comes into your life!
Focus instead in the small steps towards that goal- get out and enjoy an activity you love, meet with the people who are already friendly and supportive.
We need ways to keep it fresh, finding joy in the small steps we take every day!
That’s what non-attachment is: surrender to the process of getting somewhere. It may even be it turns out to produce a different result than you were planning! You will be ready to embrace it and enjoy it!
Happiness is always present. Success, attention, love, they create a biological chemical transformation in our mind and body. When we look only for the end result, we’re always chasing the dragon- we’ll always crave the next hit.