Has it ever struck you that you have been programmed by society to be unhappy, and so, no matter what you do to become happy, you are bound to fail? Most people are so brainwashed that they do not even realize how unhappy they are. It’s only when they make contact with joy that they understand how depressed they had been.
If you wish to be happy, the first thing you need isn’t effort or even goodwill or good desires. You need a clear understanding of exactly how you have been programmed. This is what happened to you:
First your society and your culture taught you to believe that you would not be happy without certain persons and certain things and certain outcomes. Just take a look around you. Everywhere you look, people have built their lives on the unquestioned belief that without money, power, success, approval, a good reputation, love, friendship, spirituality, or God, they cannot be happy.
What is your particular combination?
Once you swallowed your belief you naturally developed an attachment to this person or thing you were convinced you could not be happy with out. Then came the efforts to acquire your precious thing or person, to cling to it once it was acquired, and to fight off every possibility of losing it. This finally led you to abject emotional dependence so that the object of your attachment had the power to thrill you when you attained it, to make you anxious lest you be deprived of it and miserable when you lost it.
Stop for a moment now and contemplate in horror the endless list of attachments that you have become a prisoner to. Think of concrete things and persons, not abstractions. Once your attachment had you in its grip you began to strive might and main, every waking minute of your life, to rearrange the world around you so that you could attain and maintain the objects of your attachment. This is an exhausting task that leaves you little energy for the business of living and enjoying life fully. It is also an impossible task in an ever-changing world that you simply are not able to control.
So instead of a life of serenity and fulfillment you are doomed to a life of frustration, anxiety, worry, insecurity, suspense, tension. For a few fleeting moments the world does, indeed, yield to your efforts and rearranges itself to suit your desires. Then you become briefly happy. Or rather, you experience a flash of pleasure which isn’t happiness at all for it is accompanied by the underlying fear that at any moment this world of things and people that you have so painstakingly put in place will slip out of your control and let you down which it never fails to do sooner or later.
And here is something else to ponder on: 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 be come 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. Hardly anyone has been told the following truth: In order to be genuinely happy there is one and only one thing you need to do: get deprogrammed, get rid of those attachments.