A Buddhist Principle That Helps Us Be More Successful in Life
I recently came across an astonishing realization. The times in my life in which I experienced the most success were the exact times I cared the least.
It sounds crazy, right?
How would I have possibly experienced any success at all if I didn’t have a care in the world?
The first notable time I experienced this was when I was about twelve. My parents encouraged me (I would have used the term “forced me” at the time) to play soccer. Although I am now appreciative, at the time I was not thrilled to say the least. Frankly, I did not want to do it.
With zero experience, I was thrown onto a field of girls who had been playing their whole lives. Hesitant and fearful, I unenthusiastically made my way onto the field. I decided to persistently hold an attitude of carelessness. I felt as if I had nothing to lose. And my natural stubborn tendencies told me I needed to prove my parents wrong. This sport was not for me.
As time passed my soccer skills grew rapidly. Stunned at my evolvement, I speculated as to why I was seeing such high rates of growth and success. After all, this wasn’t even something I was interested in to begin with.
I was receiving recognition and praise for my progression. Eventually, I learned to embrace it and humbly take pride in my efforts. But I still did not know how my initial shortage of passion could have catapulted me to this success.
I desired to apply this principle of success to all aspects of my life. But I was painstakingly faced with contradictions.
We are told to visualize our success. We are told to hold high expectations that we will achieve nothing less than we desire for ourselves, to work as hard as we possibly can until we see achievements. Where did hard work and expectations tie in to the care-free approach I had used?
And what about the things in my life I actually did care about? How could I use force myself to let go of these yearnings and desires for certain results regarding these things?
I observed as my teammates dealt with pressures and expectations—pressures from parents and coaches and pressures from themselves. And what about personal expectations to succeed and be the best?
This was the difference. I failed to let these pressures and expectations take hold. Instead, I felt tranquil and pressure-free in my efforts. Ultimately, I recognized this was what led me to my success.
Buddhists call it the art of detachment. Others call it a law of success or learning how to let go emotionally. I like to think of it as separating ourselves from the expectant pressures that actually block us from living to our full potential.
When we allow ourselves to release the emotional attachment to certain outcomes, we open up a new route for ourselves and, instead, find a route to freedom. We begin to tap into our highest potential by finding a route that allows us to think clearly, one that gives us more clarity. We discover a route that allows us to feel undisturbed in our search toward success.
We learn to let things be how they are instead of creating ideals in our minds of how we think things should be. And we learn to trust that we are where we are supposed to be. After all, trust and faith are the most fundamental components to our success.
Detaching emotionally from the outcome of our desires does not mean we lose the desire itself. The key is to hold on to our intention. Our intentions push us to reach our desires. But it is our emotional attachments that get in the way.
We can apply this to all aspects of our lives. We can detach from the perceptions others may hold of us and from the security of controlling what is coming our way or the way we think our lives our supposed to go. Because the reality is, we cannot control any of this. With trust and the ability to separate from our attachment to expected outcomes, we can live the successful lives we all desire.
“Let us realize that engagement and detachment are aren’t opposite—the more engaged we become, the more detached we will have to be.” ~Deepak Chopra