The vast majority of people believe they need things to be happy, including loved ones, respect, perhaps admiration, money, a career and material possessions, ranging from a comfortable bed, through the latest games console to a car and, depending on which family you were born into, possibly a private island. We look to these things for comfort, reassurance, and to a very real extent they come to define us.
We become what we do, the role we hold in society, and the people and things we have in our lives. We are attached (in many different ways) to many different things. We therefore have many different vulnerabilities. Taking away any of the things to which we are attached causes alarm, fear and distress. We have come to depend on all those things to which we have attached ourselves in order to be happy, and as life goes on, psychologists have noticed that we extend the list of things that we believe we need to be happy, such that most people are continually striving after a moving goal called happiness that they are forever pushing further away throughout their lives, even as they chase after it.
It is possible to let go of our attachment for things and for outcomes. While it is possible in theory to accept everything that happens, treating good and bad with the same welcome warmth, it is perhaps more realistic (following on from No. 9 in this blog post series), to accept what happens because it is so often futile to fight reality. That is not to say we should not act to satisfy our needs and pursue what is right, only that we should not struggle fruitlessly against what is inevitable or mourn what is taken away or lost. Enjoy what is here now, accept that everything is transient and temporary, and do not fret when it goes away. This is most certainly easier said than done but it is good to remember when something new comes into our lives that it will most likely depart again at some point and to accept this inevitability from the outset, rather than resisting it and suffering when the time comes for it to go away.
This short article discusses the idea of attachment and detachment a little further.