Take a look at the world and see the unhappiness. See if you can find a single person who is fearless, free from insecurities, anxieties, tensions, worries. Two out of three of us are unhappy, according to the Harris Poll, and three out of four of us are stressed, according to the APA’s annual stress survey.
It’s actually not your fault! Who in their right mind would willingly choose to be unhappy. Your unhappiness in life stems from the way social institutions have programmed you to make you productive and pliant to social controls.
You’ve been brainwashed into believing that you are only worth what you produce and what you own, that your only value comes from money, power and fame.
You’re programmed to define yourself in terms of your physical appearance, whether you are pretty or handsome, fat or thin.
You’re told that if you put your nose to the grindstone, work hard, become successful, then happiness will follow. But happiness doesn’t come.
Underlying your social programming is the false belief that without money, power, success, approval, fame, or fitting in somewhere, you cannot be happy. This belief is so pervasive that it is hardly ever questioned.
Out of that you form attachments, which is a state of clinging to the way you believe someone, something or some outcome must be for you to be happy. Attachments have you habitually thinking I can’t be happy until I make that sale … I can’t be happy until I am out of debt … I can’t be happy until l lose 10 pounds, change jobs, get my boss to appreciate me or have my spouse see things my way, or I can’t be happy until my hang-ups or illness goes away.
You can change every one of those things and still feel unhappy, because your life is still run by the false programming society drummed into you. When things are not under your control, which is often, or when the future is uncertain, the fear of failing triggers anxiety, tension, worry, and guilt.
It produces a pathetic existence constantly at the mercy of people and events, trying to make reality conform to how you believe things should be, based on the false belief that you cannot be happy unless things do. Worse still, the culture blames you for this unfulfilling experience of life for not being good enough or successful enough.
Try this: Make a list of the attachments you’re clinging to, and then write “I can’t be happy until …” in front of each attachment. Read the statements back to yourself, considering as you read that this is the cause of their suffering.
Now consider that the only reason you’re not experiencing happiness right now is because you are focused on your attachments.
Drop your attachments and you discover that you have everything you need to be happy right now.
from The Way to Love by Anthony DeMello