Updated: Dec 31, 2020
We all have relationships and activities that give us an energy boost and help us feel really alive. However, because they boost our endorphins, we can become attached to these feel-good avenues, and this can lead to suffering. What follows is an example of this dynamic from my life:
When I was twenty-two, I graduated from physical therapy school and began treating patients who had neurological disorders. Early on, I found that whenever I was stressed at work and I put my hands on a patient, I felt fully present, peaceful, and happy. I also have a big desire to be of service, and being with people during these difficult times seemed to be the perfect way to do this. All good, right?
Well, not completely. The work was often physically demanding, and starting at age twenty-six, neck pain made it hard to do the work. I spent decades worrying that I would not be able to continue this job. This attachment to the work was not related to my fears of making a living since I was blessed with a husband who provided for our family. My distress was created because on some level I considered this healing work to be "me", my main route for happiness, and my life's purpose.
My mental attachment to this work has only recently softened. I have come to appreciate that I can feel this sense of peace, love, and connection simply and consistently by just Being. If the opportunity to provide therapy opens up again, I'd be happy to do it, but I don't NEED to do it anymore. Now I understand that it was the feeling of being present and connected to the love of my essence/spirit that I was missing.
So, if you are missing the activities where you feel really happy, consider that it is possible to move into that state in many different ways. And the more you move into that mindset, the easier it is to get there. When this way of being is no longer linked to a specific place, pursuit, or person, you will feel much more free. When we let go of our attachments, even to the best and brightest and most spiritual of them, we become aware that love is always available. Then, instead of clinging to a route we think will bring us joy, we can simply experience and accept the joy that is ever-present in our lives.