Detachment For Freedom and Happiness


by Jayaram V

Attachments are a greater source of misery, stress and unhappiness. This essay is about cultivating detachment for greater freedom and happiness by understanding your attachments and motivation

Attachments are the mental bonds which we form with things and people. Whatever you depend upon and constantly use for your survival or enjoyment is a source of attachment. Your freedom depends upon your attachments. When we are attached to them, we simply cannot let them go. They leave strong impressions in our minds and create a sense of dependency. It is the major problem and the source of much of what happens to us, or what we make happen.

If you are attached to too many things, you will have less freedom as they influence your thinking and actions. When they are absent, you will feel you are missing something and feel pain, loss or unhappiness. As they become an important part of your life, you dearly cling to them as if your life depends upon them and you cannot live without them.

Look around you. What makes people experience stress, or what makes them unhappy, angry, miserable or frustrated? It is mostly because they are bound to their own thoughts, habits, routines and things which they like or dislike. They are in turn caused by their desires and attachments. People extend their minds into things and form strong emotional connection with them, which eventually limit their freedom, and their ability to think and act rationally and objectively. It is as if you are bound to certain views, which limit your thinking and perspective.

We seem to enjoy a lot of freedom in our lives to make our choices, but freedom is a relative word. Where is freedom, when you have to depend upon others and things that seem to control your life? Life weaves a web of attachments around everyone. They seem to offer comfort, certainty and security, and create your comfort zone in which you can lead your predictable and routine life. They also create the illusion of freedom and choice, but is there freedom when you are bound to things?

No one is truly free. We are all enmeshed in this giant complex of attachments that life spins around us. We become enmeshed in them and come to depend upon them. We accept them as unavoidable aspects of our lives and identities. They define us and dictate us the terms by which we choose to live our lives according to our desires and expectations to experience peace and happiness, or so it seems. Money or wealth does not buy freedom. Indeed, it restricts it by creating more dependence upon things which money can buy.

Attachments are like the baggage, which people carry during their journey on this planet. Some believe that such a journey extends across many lives and so do our strongest attachments, or likes and dislikes. Every attachment is a relationship. It is a relationship which you form with something, which is unstable and impermanent. Therefore, when you have attachments you are bound to experience suffering and ride through a rollercoaster of emotions. You will be happy when you are with them, and unhappy when you are without them.

Is there a permanent cure for unhappiness or emotional stress? Perhaps, there is none. However, there is hope for those who understand their motivation and cultivate equanimity. If you want to enjoy greater freedom and control over your life, you must pay attention to your attachments and see how they influence your thinking and actions. You must break the chains that you build in your mind to secure your life and hold on to things that seem to make you happy.

Try to become mentally free from the things, which hold you back. Examine your choices, desires, preferences, prejudices, like and dislikes. Your happiness and freedom are locked in them. Reduce your expectations from others and your dependence upon things, and to the extent possible simplify your life.

You can use things and enjoy your life. You can take advantage of all the luxuries and pleasures that life offers to you. However, if you do it with detachment, without the mental dependence which they create, you will be better off. You will live a longer and healthier life, unfettered and unencumbered by unnecessary fears and anxieties.

In today’s world, the practice of detachment is an apt solution for peace and happiness, and lasting health. The solution is within your reach. It is the best way to extend your zone of comfort, control, freedom and influence.

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