Letting Go Of Attachments - Choose Happiness

In his excellent little book The Way To Love, Fr. Anthony de Mello writes extensively about how many of us struggle with attachments and how our inability to let go of them keeps us from becoming our best selves. 

Fr. Anthony defines attachments like this: 

“An emotional state of clinging caused by the belief that without some particular thing or some person you cannot be happy.”

The problem that most of us have is that even though we would like to think that we don't suffer from unhealthy attachments, we do.  That's not a generalization; it's just a plain old fact. If you're human, you struggle with this stuff. 

We struggle with attachments to our job, money, religion, politics, relationships, and status.  Our attachments extend to the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, and our appearance.  

Some of us have unhealthy attachments to social media, entertainment, and smartphones.  The thought of cutting ourselves from these things fills us with anxiety.  

For those of us who are part of the Christian tradition, we believe that Jesus warned about these things and wanted his followers to live free of the kind of attachments that would keep us from being the best versions of ourselves. 

In one passage from the Gospels, Jesus encounters a wealthy young man who sincerely wants to know what it will take for him to be the kind of person God wants him to be.  

Jesus tells the young man that he needs to lose all of his attachments to his wealth and status and then is saddened when the young man walks away, unable to do as Jesus suggests.  

Fr. Anthony taught that there were four fundamental truths that we need to know when seeking to be attachment-free (or at least close to it) to live abundant and flourishing lives. 

The first truth is: You must choose between your attachment and happiness.  You can’t have both.  

As simple as this sounds, it's hard to internalize and even harder to choose.  When we've come to believe that we can never be happy without our attachments, it's challenging to let go of that belief. 

There is nothing in this world that can make us happy---nothing or no one.  

True happiness can only be found from within.  We find it when we heed the words of Jesus and let go of the attachments that keep us from following him more fully and living the dreams that God has for us. 

This doesn't mean that we cut ourselves off from loved ones.  It doesn't mean we sell everything we own and live destitute in the street.  It doesn't mean that we disengage from our faith or our work.  

It does mean that not only are we set from unhealthy attachments, but they are also set free from the weight of our expectations and can function or exist without the responsibility of our happiness. 

We also might find that our attitudes, feelings, and emotions toward all the things we were attached to become balanced and healthy, and so do we. 

In the next few Devos, we'll explore the other four truths that Fr. Anthony wrote about, and we'll hopefully discover even more ways to heed Jesus' teachings and example. 

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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