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From The Way to Love by Anthony De Mello . . .
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? If you wish to be happy the first thing you need is not effort or even goodwill or good desires but a clear understanding of how exactly 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. Just take a look around you: Everywhere people have actually built their lives on the unquestioned belief that without money, power, success, approval, a good reputation, love, friendship, spirituality, God they cannot be happy.
What is your particular combination?
Once you swallowed this belief you naturally developed an attachment to this person or thing you were convinced you could not be happy without. 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 sooner or later it never fails to do.