What Can One Do to Attain Happiness?

from Awareness by Anthony De Mello . . .

What can one do to attain happiness? There is nothing you or anyone else can do. Why? For the simple reason that you are already happy right now. So how can you acquire what you already have?

If that is so, why do you not experience this happiness which is already yours?

Because your mind is creating unhappiness all the time. Drop this unhappiness of your mind and the happiness that has always been yours will instantly surface.

How does one drop unhappiness?

Find out what is causing it and look at the cause unflinchingly. It will automatically drop. Now if you look carefully, you will see that there is one thing and only one thing that causes unhappiness. The name of that thing is Attachment.

What is an attachment?

An emotional state of clinging caused by the belief that without some particular thing or some person you cannot be happy.

This emotional state of clinging is composed of two elements, one positive and the other negative. The positive element is the flash of pleasure and excitement, the thrill that you experience when you get what you are attached to. The negative element is the sense of threat and tension that always accompanies the attachment. Think of someone gobbling up food in a concentration camp; with one hand he brings the food to his mouth, with the other he protects it from neighbors.

So, an attachment by its very nature makes you vulnerable to emotional turmoil and is always threatening to shatter your peace.
Now the tragedy of an attachment is that if its object is not attained it causes unhappiness. But if it is attained, it does not cause happiness-it merely causes a flash of pleasure followed by weariness; and it is always accompanied, of course, by the anxiety that you may lose the object of your attachment. You will say, ” Can’t I keep just one attachment?” Of course. You can keep as many as you want. But for each attachment you pay a price in lost happiness.

Think of this: The nature of attachments is such, that even if you satisfy many of them in the course of a single day, the one attachment that was not satisfied will prey upon your mind and make you unhappy. No one has ever lived who has come up with a formula for keeping the objects of one’s attachments without struggle, anxiety, fear and, sooner or later, defeat.

There is only one way to win the battle of attachments: Drop them.

Contrary to popular belief, dropping attachments is easy. All you have to do is see, but really see, the following three truths.

First truth: You are holding on to a false belief, namely, the belief that without this particular person or thing you will not be happy.

Second truth: If you just enjoy things, refusing to let yourself be attached to them, that is, refusing to hold the false belief that you will not be happy without them, you are spared all the struggle and emotional strain of protecting them and guarding them for yourself.