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Detachment: 4 Keys to Unlock A Happy Life

Detachment brings a freedom that can serve all aspects of our life.

Fizkes/ Shutterstock
Fizkes/ Shutterstock

In this article, I will share my experience on detachment. Why it is important to understand detachment and how to detach yourself from expectations that prevent you from living your best life every single day. 

You will also learn, 4 quick mindset shifts that you can apply right away    from my own journey with detachment, which forms part of a larger journey towards a happy life.

Moreover, I will share how I’ve audited my own attachments and thrown the toxic ones out, and how you can too, leaving your mind clearer, purer and more focused.  The lightness you feel when you let go of attachments is well worth the time you are investing in yourself today.

Let’s start by defining detachment.

Detachment is a way of thinking that allows us to still perform our best, doing what we believe will bring us the best results, yet at the same time letting go of preferred outcomes. It is actually faith in the action you take, rather than the outcome you might achieve.

As such, The Law of Detachment states that in order to manifest our desires, we must release attachment to the outcome itself as well as the path we might take to get there. … “The spiritual Law of Detachment is about trust and surrender rather than control,” by Shannon Kaiser

The Bhagwat Gita, which is surely the basic text on the practice of detachment, is wonderfully explicit on this point. Krishna tells Arjuna that acting with detachment means doing the right thing for its own sake, because it needs to be done, without worrying about success or failure. At the same time, Krishna repeatedly reminds Arjuna not to cop out of doing his best in the role his destiny demands of him. In a sense, the Bhagavad Gita is one long teaching on how to act with maximum grace while under maximum pressure.

So when is the best time to apply the principle of detachment? Well, life sometimes throws challenges at us that can cause us to become defensive, judgmental, and sometimes even self sabotaging.

If we are not detached from the outcome we hope to achieve from this challenge, then we are unable to perform our best in the moment, losing our ability to fully act in the now. 

We then find ourselves unable to be alive, in that moment, because we are too focused on reaching the destination.  However, life is not about the destination, it is about the journey. It is a journey of evolution. Like I just mentioned, it is the ability to act with maximum grace under maximum pressure  

Here’s my own story with detachment.  In my twenties, I launched my fashion brand called Meher and Riddhima. I worked on it for 15 years, did all that it takes to build it. I realise now that I made the journey so much more challenging because I was so driven by the outcome.  I wanted the big catwalks, endorsements and awards. Obstacles and challenges are normal in business, but my attachment to these outcomes only caused more pain and grief, turning what should have been a normal bump in the road, to an overwhelming feeling that I had failed, letting everyone down.  The attachment to these outcomes did this.

Today I work in my family business as a second generation entrepreneur and my goal is to list my fund, Manrre logistics fund on SGX. I manifest this in my mediations and I am doing everything to achieve it but I am aware of the journey. I am aware that who I become on this journey is the most important part

How I evolve, the impact I create, the contribution I make is truly what this journey is about and as such, I keep my focus in the present. My internal mantra remains, “this is about the journey, not about the destination”.

And let me tell you it has been a challenging journey again, but I can only feel the grace, and I am making sure that we as a business, act and exude grace in all our business dealings with all our stakeholders.

So on this second journey in entrepreneurship, what are some of the patterns I have noticed and conclusions I have reached?  Well, here are the 4 keys to unlock a happy life through detachment.

1. Knowing yourself – this is the first step to knowing anything.  If you do not know yourself, you cannot know how anything or anyone relates to you on your journey.  You are the basis of all your future outcomes, and so it is important to know what matters to you, where you want to go and what boundaries you must enforce to ensure you get there in a mentally, spiritually and physically safe manner.

2. Understanding your ego – It’s always worth checking in with your ego because it is one of the sources of your expectations.  Your perception of yourself, what you feel you have earned, and what you deserve, are like a waterfall of expectations.  You must centre yourself, calm your mind and switch the waterfall off.  Each time your ego tells you to expect something, spend time with the thought, and if it is unwarranted, throw it out.  Your ego has no shortage of things it believes you deserve.  A mind, sat in silence, can be the only responsible judge of this.  So, judge wisely. 

3. Understanding the Victim mentality – A victim mentality or belief is actually a way to avoid taking any responsibility for yourself or your life. By believing that you have no power, you don’t take action. It is when you blame your circumstances and people around you for your challenges that make your pain justified. You blame someone or the other for everything that is wrong in your life.  

When you remove the expectation that “everything WOULD have been ok if this thing didn’t happen” then you understand that whatever circumstance you feel sabotaged you, was only a bump in the road towards an expectation you should have never had in the first place.  

So when you say, “I would have aced that job interview but my taxi broke down”, what was hurting you was the expectation of how getting the job would make you feel about yourself, not the taxi breaking down preventing the job.

4. Recognizing the learning – every setback and challenge presents itself in our life to teach us a lesson. Detachment to the outcome helps understand these learnings along the way. Try journaling your thoughts as these lessons present themselves, so you can reflect on them and apply them later.  Remember – our evolution is what the journey is about so in order to evolve we must learn in every situation.

In conclusion, something to consider on detachment is that though we have a goal and we do everything to achieve it, we must be mindful of being detached from the outcome. Detachment brings a freedom that can serve all aspects of our life.