Sometimes it can be difficult not to base your happiness on achieving a desired outcome. But when we are able to separate outcomes from our emotions, we can begin to live a freer life that is filled with joy and happiness no one can take away. This is how practicing detachment can boost your happiness.
What is Detachment?
Much of detachment is being objective. When we are able to look at things from multiple angles, we are more likely to have a perspective that is more rooted in reality. Detachment is not being emotionally unavailable. It is the ability to step outside of your emotions, hopes and dreams should you need to. When you can step aside, reflect and be objective, things become much clearer and you can see yourself for who you are and not what happens to you.
What Does Attachment Look Like?
Attachment looks like fear, anxiety, jealousy, pride and vanity. Attachment is that little voice that tells us we won't be happy without this car, this plant, this person or this job. When we are attached to things, people and ideals, we tend to entangle our identities with them. We believe we need them to be fulfilled or have meaning and purpose. We can throw as many titles, adjectives and qualifiers on ourselves as we like, but none of these change who we are. Whether your hair is long or short, you are still you.
How to Detach
Detachment takes practice. It's not so easy to turn away from deep habits, so it helps to be more aware of your thoughts and your expectations. Here are a few suggestions to get you on the path to true happiness.
- Be an Observer. Take your time and observe your thoughts. The two simplest ways to do this are meditation and journaling. With careful attention to your inner voice and thoughts you will begin to see a pattern. Once you start to pinpoint what you use to identify and qualify yourself, you can consciously work towards breaking the associations and finding joy without them.
- Get Acquainted with Your Ego. Once you understand the difference between your ego and what actually is, you will be much happier and take a different approach to the things you want in life. A watched pot never boils, is the saying. Although it's not a truth founded in reality, the analogy is still worth exploring. Detachment tells us that whether or not the pot is watched, there is still water in it. It will always have the potential to boil. Whether you get the things you're after or not, you're still you and you still have limitless potential.
- Be Gentle. It always helps to give yourself some grace. People don't change overnight and learning to detach will be a process. Don't get down on yourself when you find yourself making attachments or falling into what's comfortable. The key is recognizing the misstep and working to correct or redirect it.
Looking for security and constants outside of self is often the source of a lot of unnecessary stress. Being able to be happy regardless of your outer circumstances is the goal. When you can separate yourself from someone or something even though you poured your heart and soul into it, you are practicing detachment. Letting go of the illusions in life gives us the space to nurture happiness that comes from within that is not dependent on any outside forces.