Proven Buddhist Methods For Happiness And Equanimity
First of all, let’s define what makes us unhappy? If you are willing to contemplate a bit about this subject, you will probably come to the conclusion that happiness doesn’t come from external events, things, or people (like money, life partners, children, status, etc.) but our internal reactions to outside circumstances. Three primary things associated with external events that throw us off balance are anger, expectations, and attachment.
You might say, but it is natural to get internal reactions such as anger or expectation, it is in our human nature. That is absolutely true. And although we will never get rid of basic human characteristics, we can work on reducing and controlling our actions and reactions.
Can we be happy if we are in a perpetual state of anger? How long can we remain calm expecting something to happen? If we are afraid of losing something, can we remain in equanimity?
All these states make us feeling unhappy in the bottom line. So, what would be the antidote to not just these three but to all the thoughts and feelings that put us in an unpleasant state of mind?
Buddhism teaches us that practicing mindfulness (being in the here and now) and detachment are a few of basic teachings that can make our wandering, overly agitated mind calm down.
I have already written a lot about mindfulness and there can never be enough articles about it. We all keep forgetting that living in the present moment, truly present in the now, is the ultimate gift we can give ourselves. We can’t solve anything if we are not aware of what is going on right now. It is a fact that people live in either the past (going through past events constantly, feeling regretful and reliving the pain) or in the future (planning what should be done or daydreaming what we would like our future to look like).
Mindfulness will help us get back in the exact moment we should always be in – now. And when we dwell in the now, we become aware that we are angry. That will help us reduce anger. We can become aware that we are in pain of expecting something from someone and when we become mindful of it, expectations can reduce. The same goes for attachment, grasping to something so strongly that it becomes painful. With mindfulness, we can become aware of our painful attachment and by acknowledging it, attachment becomes obvious diminishing the firm grip.
It doesn’t help overnight. Just like any practice, this will take time to start working. But it will give results if you remain persistent. Mindfulness can help you become conscious just about any issue you have at the moment. The beauty of it is that it helps ease painful mental states because we are facing them in real-time.
After becoming aware that you are attached and have expectations (through mindfulness), you will need to start practicing detachment. How do you do that? By deciding you will become detached from anything that holds you attached to.
Detachment doesn’t mean you give up on things and people. It means you keep everything you have, but without fear of losing it or need to poses it forever.
Famous Buddhist teacher Ajahn Chah said, “On the level of liberation, we don’t attach to good and bad.” If we truly want to be liberated (and become happy) our detachment should include releasing any form of painful grasping. We can be in a beautiful relationship but still detached in a way that we don’t consider this person to be our “ownership”. Or, we can work at a stressful job and release the attachment to this job because we are in fear of losing it. You see, attachment is sometimes not very obvious. There are a lot of underlying issues in our mind that can cause attachment. Dealing with them means contemplating getting into the debt of our attachment. Ask yourself, where does your painful state come from?
Some of the helpful technique is using positive affirmation which will change the course of your attachment. Think about the following statements and try to contemplate how many of those are actually applicable to you.
I am attached to
- need to always be right / prove others being wrong
- judging people
- desire to poses my partner’s free time
- useless things that I keep “just in case”
- having a status I can brag about
There are so many other attachments unlisted here, but I will let you contemplate on them on your own and figure it out for yourself.
To practice positive affirmation, replace the statement “I am attached to” with “I release the attachment to” after you have completed your list. Try to use these affirmations as often as possible.
I also recommend practicing acceptance which you can read about at the following link: The Power Of Acceptance