The One and Only One Thing You Need to Do

from Awareness by Anthony DeMello . . .

In order to be genuinely happy there is one and only one thing you need to do. Get rid of attachments. What is an attachment?

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

Let’s do a simple exercise to identify your attachments. 

  • Write down on a piece of paper the phrase “I cannot be happy unless or until . . . ” and then fill in the blank. 
    • Examples:
      • I cannot be happy unless I am out of debt. 
      • I cannot be happy until my boss appreciates me.
      • I cannot be happy until my sweetheart agrees that I’m right and s/he’s wrong.   
  • It can be anything, so make your own list in this way. 

When your list is complete, look it over and consider that what you are reviewing are all the reasons why you are unhappy and suffering. Consider the following.

Each time you are anxious and afraid, it is because you may lose or fail to get the object of your attachment, isn’t it?

And each time you feel jealous, isn’t it because someone may make off with what you are attached to?

And almost all your anger comes from someone standing in the way of your attachment, doesn’t it?

And see how paranoid you become when your attachment is threatened-you cannot think objectively; your whole vision be­ comes distorted, doesn’t it?

And every time you feel bored, isn’t it because you are not getting a sufficient supply of what you believe will make you happy, of what you are attached to?

And when you are depressed and miserable, the cause is there for all to see: Life is not giving you what you have convinced yourself you cannot be happy without.

Almost every negative emotion you experience is the direct outcome of an attachment.

So, there you are loaded down by your attachments – and striving desperately to attain happiness precisely by holding on to the load. The very notion is absurd.

The tragedy is that this is the only method that everyone has been taught for attaining happiness – a method guaranteed to produce anxiety, disappointment and sorrow.

Now read your list of attachment and to each of them say these words:

“Deep down in my heart I know that even after I have got you, I will not get happiness.” And ponder on the truth of those words.

The fulfillment of desire can, at the most, bring flashes of pleasure and excitement. Don’t mistake that for happiness.