The concept I’m about to talk about is probably one of the most important ideas on my journey to happiness. If we were to only take one step toward positivity in our lives, to me, this particular concept alone would vastly improve our well-being. It’s called “compassion without attachment.” To start, let’s break it down.
Compassion. Compassion is having concern for others misfortune and the desire to try to alleviate it. It means you care about someone. You want their suffering to end and to see them happy.
Attachment. Attachment, in this case, is our expectations. What we want out of someone or something. It is that selfish feeling of “what am I getting out of this?” It’s our ego.
Put together, compassion without attachment means caring deeply for others without the expectation of receiving anything in return. We want to better the lives of others, or simply wish them happiness, without considering what we might gain. And it’s something we should apply to every person we meet!
If we could learn to love without any expectations, we would all be a lot happier and peaceful. We would be free of let downs (because we didn’t have those high expectations), and we would be able to relate to other people a lot more. We would have compassion toward those that try to hurt us, rather than anger or sadness.
Think about a time a friend or lover of yours let you down. It hurt, right? Now seriously consider what that relationship was built on. Was it heavily based on how that person made YOU feel? Did you establish certain expectations in your mind on how that person should act or be? Were you hoping they could make YOU happy or reduce YOUR suffering?
This type of thinking is what gets us in trouble. It causes us to feel negative emotions and hinders our happiness because we cannot dictate how others will act or feel. When we assign expectations based on our own perspective and journey, we set ourselves up for hurt when others can’t meet them. We aren’t really seeing the other person on their own path – we are only considering OUR perspective.
(With all of this said, compassion without attachment does not mean that we should allow a toxic situation or person into your life. Having compassion does not mean you’re buddies with someone or that you even talk. It’s important to look out for your own well-being while also wishing the best for others. If an external situation is having a negative impact on you, the most important thing is to remove yourself from that situation.)
Compassion without attachment requires an internal change within your mind. It takes time to adjust your thinking – a process that requires a shift in your perspective. In the next post, I will dive into techniques and ways I am learning to live a life free of expectation.