“Attachment is the source of all suffering” – The Buddha
Is there something in your life that you do not like? Does your job suck? Are you not making enough money? Are your relationships toxic? Are you unsatisfied with your image in the mirror? Final question: Why?
In most cases we have what we need. We may not have what we want, but we have what we need. We have a place to lay our heads at night; we have enough food to eat, and we have some means of making a living. Why are so many people suffering?
We suffer because we are resisting change. We resist changes to our body as we age. We resist changes to our employment when it’s time to move on. We resist changes in our relationships (i.e. it’s time to move on or accept that we weren’t right for the person who left us).
I used to suffer. I used to suffer from want and need. Then, I ran across this quote above and decided that I should change my mindset. I took a few times to understand this. Greed caused my two bankruptcies. I wanted things I could not afford and borrowed more than I should have to get the things I wanted, which today, I don’t even own.
Why do we buy things? Because we are unsatisfied. We are missing something. Both feelings come from being bombarded by marketers who are fighting for our attention and money. They show us pictures and videos of things we should have, places we should go, the diet we should be on, the food we should eat, the supplements we should take, the deals we’re missing out on. All this advertising has a huge effect on our psyches. It is constant, persistent, and all-encompassing. If you think this does not impact you, think again.
How do we avoid it? We can avoid social media, we can avoid the news, and we can avoid mindless surfing of the web. We can choose the sources of information we use and get rid of the rest. I enjoy social media but only spurts. I’m literally on social media for a few minutes in the morning and the evening. The same goes for the news. I scan the news for about 10 minutes in the morning while I enjoy my first cup of coffee. The rest of the day I am spending my time on the tasks that are important to me: Reading, Writing, Programming, Meditation, and Exercise. These are my Big 5. Everything else is secondary.
We can also develop a sense of gratitude and thankfulness. It takes time to develop this habit because we are told constantly that we don’t have enough and told we aren’t enough. We are missing something that the couple in an advertisement has. That couple by the way aren’t a couple, their bodies aren’t that perfect but photo-shopped, and that sailboat they are on is not theirs. It’s all made up. It’s all designed to make you feel you are missing something. If they convince you that you are, you just bought what they are selling or something like it to fill in this “make believe” gap in your life. A gap that isn’t even real. Do you understand how insidious this is?
Look, don’t get me wrong. I understand that marketing and advertising is needed. They tell us what is out there in case we are looking. What I’m describing is the effect these advertisements have on us and why they are so harmful. They create the suffering the Buddha talks about. We become attached to the idea that we don’t have enough; we aren’t enough, and the only way to fix us is to pursue more money, more things, which require us to work harder and harder to pay off the bills we keep adding to. It is a vicious cycle that most people never, ever get out of.
If you are tired of feeling crappy all the time, tired of running subconsciously on a rodent’s exercise wheel, take charge of yourself and your life. Take time to take inventory of what you have and express thanks for your life, your health, your family, your place of residence, and the job you have. None of them are perfect, but they are yours. You really don’t need another pair of shoes, a brand-new car, a new sound system for your home, or yet another bottle of protein or some powdered meal that will sit in your cupboard for the next year and gather dust.
Life is good. Be grateful for all you have. End your suffering by detaching from ideas and things, realizing that it will all change. It will change because everything in this life does. We change, our things change, our attitudes change, our ideas change, our relationships change. If you become detached, change is variety. Change is refreshing. Change is exciting.
Until next time…