Let Go of Attachments

By Jeff Justice, CSP

My article last month was about developing a “We’ll See” attitude. Some people add to the stress in their lives by developing an attachment to the outcome they desire instead of an intent toward that outcome. In other words, their happiness is always tied to specific happenings.

Living with intent instead of attachment helps me find balance in life. It helps me avoid getting trapped in the emotional roller coaster of highs and lows. If we live for life’s highs, we tend to “die” in the lows, too. When we find a balance, it doesn’t mean we fail to be get excited by life — it means we don’t fall into the deception of depending on certain outcomes to find enjoyment in our lives.

“Maya”is an expression used in India that means illusion. In other words, life isn’t as it appears. I try to practice this philosophy and remember that I am always learning — whenever I think I have it all figured out, I get tested. I am always working to perfect this practice in my own life.

It’s not that I have a “que sera sera” (whatever will be, will be) attitude. My desire is firm and I know what I want. There’s a saying that you should set goals in cement but write your plans in sand. The stress factor grows the more we set our plans in cement — how we are going to do it becoming more important than what we are going to do. This is the danger of attachment.

How important is understanding the difference between attachment (which creates stress) and intent (which provides direction)? Dr. Robert S. Eliot, a cardiologist who heads the Institute of Stress Medicine in Scottsdale, Arizona, estimates that as many as 500,000 Americans die each year from stress-related heart conditions alone. “Of all people who drop dead, 86 percent — nearly half a million a year — have lesions in their heart muscles that are produced by excess adrenaline due to too much stress,” Dr. Eliot says. “People become pressure cookers with no safety valves.”

Intent is what I want to happen, not what has to happen or else I’ll feel like my life is going to end. Make planning with intent your safety valve. When things don’t work out according to your intent, rework your plans without losing sight of your goals. Don’t tighten up — lighten up!

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