Updated: Apr 27, 2022
When things don't go our way, we get frustrated, burned out, and sometimes even angry. When we experience a pattern of things not going as expected, we can become self-critical, cynical, dissatisfied, unhappy, or even hopeless: we suffer.
I get it. Most (if not all) of us do things with an outcome in mind.... it's just what we humans do! But, when we do something expecting a specific outcome or result, it demonstrates a stronger attachment to the results, rather than to the joy of the process. If the outcome is what we expect, we feel good, but if it falls short of expectation, we suffer, to one degree or another.
Attachment is hooking on a specific thing, person, experience or outcome. If we learn to lighten our grip on these hooks, ideally releasing them, we can experience joy in the process.
An example: Lots of my friends are engaged in the business of building direct sales (aka network marketing) businesses. Typically those businesses have "ranks" that people strive to achieve, one after the other, climbing the ladder of success. I often hear people say "I will be happy when I achieve ____ rank". But then, if they struggle to achieve that rank (attachment to a specific outcome), or it takes longer than they expected (attachment to a timeline), or it if they do achieve it, it doesn't magically make them happy (attachment to an emotion), they get frustrated, label themselves a failure, look with envy on those who have achieved what they think they want, and suffer.
How would that situation look differently with a practice of non-attachment? They could build the business with a map and some goals, but remain connected and open to the wonderful and random experiences along the way, remain open and connected to the lessons and growing along the way, be fully open, connected, and present for relationships developed along the way, and find joy in the process. The pile of "gold" at the end may not actually be found in a rank, but in the experience and connectedness along the way.
If you don't need anything, you will absolutely attract everything. The removal of desire isn't the goal of non-attachment - the goal is detachment from a specific outcome.
So, check your life and see how much more content you can become if you remain connected to everything, but attached to nothing.