The Attachment Trap

attachment

“The root of all suffering is attachment.” – Buddha

Attachment is based in fear.

Think about it. You’re attached to your lover because you’re afraid they’ll leave. You’re attached to your job because you’re afraid of not making money. You’re attached to your identity because your ego is afraid to just BE. You’re attached to an idea because you’re afraid of being wrong or not knowing. You’re attached to everything you have because you’re afraid of what’s outside of your comfort zone. Can you see the trend?

So in many ways, attachment is “giving too many fucks.”

Now you might be saying, “Hold on! Are you telling me I shouldn’t care about anything?”

Nope. All I’m saying is to release attachments.

You can still love someone without being attached to them. In fact, true love has nothing to do with attachment. It is unconditional and freeing.

You can still do incredible work without being attached to it. I’m doing that while writing this. You can still make a positive impact on the world without being attached to the results. In fact, nonattachment increases the quality of everything you do.

The art of not giving a fuck is all about transcending fear and attachment. When you clear all of the bullshit you’ve accumulated throughout life, what are you left with? Peace, love, happiness and bliss.

And that’s what we’re all chasing – some combination of those feelings – right?

This was an excerpt from my book Essentialism and the Art of Not Giving a Fuck

Now… A Challenge to You

What are you attached to?

What ideas, beliefs, habits, addictions or patterns are you clinging to?

And here’s the key question: Which of those attachments do not benefit you?

Be honest with yourself.

Maybe it’s social media, your phone, sugar, coffee, alcohol, pornography, cigarettes, anger, complaining, watching the news, attention-seeking, victimhood…etc. Attachment comes in many forms.

Just saying “I can stop whenever I want,” is the telltale sign of self-deception.

Challenge yourself to drop all attachments for a short period of time. A week is great. But even a day would help.

Doing an attachment fast creates a pattern interrupt. It stops the momentum of any habit in its tracks and gives you much needed perspective.

From there you have the power of choice, instead of being a slave to your attachments.

Releasing attachments results in freedom. And only then can you be in a place of unconditional love.

Much love.

– Stevie P!

PS – For more on attachment, fear and letting go of things that don’t serve you, check out my book Essentialism and the Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

The Openhanded Life

Openhandedness

“Hold on is what they say
But I say open up your hands and let it fly away
Until the day it comes back and it was meant to be
Take a look at the lovely gift the world has sent to me
Don’t suffer you got to maintain
The rougher the storm gets the more they complain
They don’t aim
They shoot sporadically
Panicky and so dramatically
He ran frantically
Summarized by the look in his eyes
He couldn’t hold on after one too many tries”

– Aceyalone

Do you feel the need to clutch onto everything you desire?

Most of us do. We’ve been conditioned that we must grab what we want and hold onto it for dear life. This applies to everything, from our identity, to our goals, to our relationships, to money, and everything in between.

What if I told you that life is more about letting go than holding on? Well, that is if you want to be happy, fulfilled, present and at peace. If you want to cause yourself more suffering, feel free to stop reading now.

Enter: Openhandedness

Openhandedness is characterized by releasing that fearful, egoic clinging to everything, letting go, generously giving and cultivating the ability to receive.

An open hand can both give and receive, while a closed fist can do neither. If we look at the two basic motivating forces, fear and love, openhandedness is based in love while a closed fist is based in fear. Fear is constricting, an inhibitor to growth and a creator of unnecessary barriers. Love is opening. Love is growth. Love is freedom.

Openhandedness doesn’t necessarily mean walking around with your hands out 24/7 like you’re a Jesus figurine or something. It’s a metaphor for your general mindset. If you’re always so constricted and closed-off, you’ll never have the opportunity to give or receive. A closed fist is also used to cling onto things. And so many of us desperately cling to every part of our lives, for fear of losing whatever it is we’re clinging to. This is absolutely exhausting and completely driven by fear and scarcity.

“Let go or be dragged.” – Zen Proverb

What happens when you cling to a person too much? They feel suffocated and push you away. What happens when you cling to your money? You drive yourself crazy worrying about it, poison your relationships and cut yourself off to making more. What happens when you cling to your identity? You end up pigeonholing yourself and block any spontaneity or change from coming into your life.

This is the mode that most people live in, especially in modern western society. I was completely controlled by this mentality myself until fairly recently. It’s a byproduct of being possessed by the ego, living in fear and not trusting the process of life. That’s a miserable way to go through life.

Yet a magical shift happens once you allow yourself to let go and trust the process of life. That which is meant to come comes and that which is meant to go goes. When you live an openhanded life, you give generously, receive often and joyfully flow with the unfoldment of each moment as it arises. Good things come and go, their beautiful fleetingness thoroughly enjoyed. Challenges are adeptly addressed then let go of. Situations come and go. People come and go. Those who remain in your life remain because they truly want to, not because you fearfully cling onto them. The openhanded life is beautiful, free flowing and rooted in unconditional love.

Lupe Fiasco has a brilliant reference to openhandedness in his song They. Resurrect. Over. New, saying “It’s a new year, every time I open my hands.” When you live an openhanded life, you’re rebirthing yourself in every moment. You’re effortlessly allowing life to spontaneously unfold and dynamically change.

Note: Openhandedness is not synonymous with inaction. When you’re openhanded, you align your actions with the flow of life. You harmonize all aspects of your being instead of letting your ego try to control every situation.

The Main Characteristics of Openhanded Life

Generosity – Giving with an open hand. Giving freely and without expectation. Loving openly and wholeheartedly.

In giving more you receive more. How do you receive more love? By giving more love! Now you might be saying, “This doesn’t work for something like money. You can’t get more money by giving more money.” Well, here’s the thing; if you give more in every aspect of life, you will cultivate a life where you do have more money (and more abundance in general). If you give generously, provide value and help people, you will inevitably find yourself in opportunities that make you more money (professional connections, entrepreneurial opportunities, job promotions, a better job…etc.). So while it may not be an exact 1:1 ratio (ex/ giving $50 and getting $50 the next day), be open to your giving and receiving coming in many forms.

Being Open to Receive – Knowing that you’re worthy of receiving (we all are). Being open to things, situations and people coming into your life when you least expect it. Receiving with gratitude.

Letting Go – Releasing your fearful vice grip to everything. Practicing the power of surrender. Allowing things to unfold as they may. Living motivated by love and without attachment. Remember, attachment is based in fear.

Abundance Mentality – Having an abundance mentality as opposed to a scarcity mentality. The belief that you will always get what you need and you will always be provided for. The belief that there is enough for everyone. The belief that love is an infinite resource.

Faith – Faith in the process of life. Faith in the universe. Faith in your intuition. Being able to trust that things will come into your life when needed.

“It’s a belief: Life is always happening for us, not to us. It’s our job to find out where the benefit is. If we do, life is magnificent.”
– Tony Robbins

Harmony – Harmony is being in alignment. There is no discrepancy between your desires, your intuition and the flow of life. All aspects of your being synergistically work together. When living in closed-fisted fear, the ego attempts to control every situation, which as many people find out, often does more harm than good.

When you intuitively live and act in harmony with the flow of life, life takes on a level of beauty and serendipity that you never could’ve imagined from the limited viewpoint of egoic fear. This sounds like overly poeticized rhetoric but I know it to be true, both from personal experience and the stories of many, many other people.

Spontaneity – Flowing with life, dynamically adapting to any situation. Sailing with the winds of change. Not clutching onto what was or how things could be. Living fully in the present moment and truly enjoying life.

Now that you’ve read about openhandedness, it’s time to apply.

Live that #openhandedlife

Much love.

– Stevie P!

1

Why You Shouldn’t Attach Your Identity to Groups

Well… really the title should be more like “Why You Shouldn’t Attach Your Identity to Groups… If You Want to Be Extraordinary in Any Sense.”

Don’t get me wrong, groups can be awesome and tremendously helpful. But the problem comes when you attach your whole identity to a group. In that case, you concede your brilliant uniqueness and take on unnecessary limitation. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

Not identifying with a group doesn’t mean never stepping foot any place of worship, or never playing for a team again. It means not attaching your identity, your sense of self, to it. You can participate in anything and everything, without being bound to the limitations of one group. You can get useful insights, experiences and wisdom from literally everywhere. You’re free to be your own master, create your own destiny and journey wherever you please.

“Never belong to a crowd; Never belong to a nation; Never belong to a religion; Never belong to a race. Belong to the whole existence. Why limit yourself to small things? When the whole is available.” -Osho

eagle-84450_640

Fly free, my friend

Why You Shouldn’t Attach Your Identity to  Groups (10 Reasons):

1. Not labeling yourself is pure freedom.

Being relentlessly yourself is the ultimate freedom. You’re free to entertain any idea. Free to travel wherever life takes you. Free to experience everything life has to offer. Don’t be your own jail-keeper. Step outside of the prison cell.

There’s no need to slap a label on yourself and attach your identity with being a Christian, or Jewish, or a republican, or a democrat, or a janitor, or a lawyer, or American, or Italian, or a Pokemon Master (that might be an exception though 😉 ). Just be you! Just BE. Allow yourself to live with the joyous delight of flexibility. Embrace the enlightening capacity of entertaining any idea or immersing yourself in any situation.

“It’s what you can let go of that determines how high you fly.” -Ralph Smart

Let go of the weight of all the labels you’re carrying, and soar to new heights.

2. Your life becomes the Bruce Lee quote “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.”

You gain the ability to draw useful information, experience and wisdom from anywhere. You also gain the flexibility to let go of anything that doesn’t serve your best interests. And you put you own unique spin on everything. This allows your life to be a dynamic, flexible and blissfully free dance with “reality.”

“Think about the power you have when you can readily entertain and deviate from ideas.” -Elliott Hulse

3. The ability to evolve more quickly.

As an individual, you can be far more dynamic in your evolution than if you’re attached to a group. Groups have a hard time adjusting to new environments and accepting change, while individuals ride (more like joyride) the winds of change.

Think about decisions. When you have a big group of people, it takes forever to decide where to even eat dinner. But as an individual, you just spontaneously do things. Spontaneity is the playfulness of the spirit emerging through you.

Being an individual allows you to follow your intuition; to take heed to the signs and move wherever life takes you.

Because an individual is far more dynamic and adaptable than a group, individuals are able to more easily transcend cognitive dissonance. (“In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the excessive mental stress and discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time.” –Wikipedia) Groups tend to be paralyzed by cognitive dissonance when they encounter accurate or truthful information which contrasts their inherent beliefs.

Individuals can readily entertain and let go of ideas, while groups cling to ideas. Groups only exist because they’re based around a certain idea or collection of ideas. And if there is information contrary to these ideas, it causes cognitive dissonance and irrational thinking for those who attach their identity to the group. This is why many rigid groups simply ignore factual or new information, even information that can be massively beneficial. Why? Because it contradicts the ideas that the group is based upon, and they don’t no how to deal with it.

Be an individual, adapt, evolve and keep becoming the greatest version of yourself.

4. Existing in Love (as opposed to fear).

Many people cling to groups out of fear. Many label themselves as Christians, not because they strive to be Christ-like, but merely to avoid going to hell (or they’re too afraid to do something other than what they were born into, or they’re afraid of what their family would say…etc). People contemptuously cling to nationalities, because they’re afraid and ignorant of people who are different from them. This type of misled pride is often driven by the ego’s need for a convenient, classifiable identity. Ultimately, the ego fears for it’s own survival if not firmly attached to a label. Because when you just BE, you’re able transcend the limitations of fear and ego.

Letting go of labels allows you to let go of fear, and live in love. The more you operate in love, the more you will naturally let go of destructive behaviors, people, and situations. You will follow your bliss, existing in a state of pure love (well, most of the time, because nobody’s perfect, right?).

Love is our essence, re-familiarize with it and experience the life you were meant to live.

5. Objectivity.

If you identify strongly with a group, you’re inheriting the biases of that group. And on top of this, you’re constantly going to be around people with the same biases as yourself, which will further solidify any biases you already have. If you draw information from everywhere and engage with a variety of different people, you’re going to have far less biases, and a clearer picture of “reality.”

You’ll never be completely unbiased, but as an individual you can avoid the severely limiting biases that a lot of groups have.

6. Not succumbing to groupthink.

“Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.” (Wikipedia)

It’s groupthink that has driven the large-scale tragedies we’ve seen in the world. The phenomenon of groupthink allowed the likes of Hitler and Stalin to perpetuate immense atrocities on humankind. These things would not occur if people weren’t so quick to conform (out of fear). These things will not occur when we all embrace our uniqueness, think for ourselves and live based in Love (not fear).

“The pioneers of a warless world are the young men (and women) who refuse military service.” – Albert Einstein

We’re social creatures, needing interactions with others. But with this comes conformity. People tend to conform to ideas and standards in groups, even if they wouldn’t when alone. A great benefit of not rigidly identifying with groups is that you develop the awareness to choose your own actions, in every situation. Individuals recognize that they don’t have to conform to detrimental ideas or standards that many groups propagate.

“The worst curse to befall anyone is stagnation, a banal existence, the quiet desperation that comes out of a need for conformity.” -Deepak Chopra

7. You will experience more.

People who are individuals will develop relationships with a variety of different people, come across a myriad of diverse information, and expose themselves to a vast variety of life experiences. And that’s what life is all about, the experiences.

“Never forget that you are not in the world; the world is in you. When anything happens to you, take the experience inward. Creation is set up to bring you constant hints and clues about your role as co-creator. Your soul is metabolizing experience as surely as your body is metabolizing food.” -Deepak Chopra

“Experience life in all possible ways — good-bad, bitter-sweet, dark-light, summer-winter. Experience all the dualities. Don’t be afraid of experience, because the more experience you have, the more mature you become.” -Osho

8. Harness the power of solitude.

If you don’t rigidly identify with groups, that means you’ll get more quality alone time (or at least the freedom to come up with your own thoughts and ideas). It’s during these moments of solitude that you get to know yourself, and allow for creative inspiration to come through.

“The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.” -Aldous Huxley

Solitude allows you to take a break from the incessant external noise, and tap into your inner awareness.

9. Just being you allows your true self to shine through.

As an individual, you have the flexibility to express your own brilliant uniqueness. You have absolute freedom to express your innate, one-of-a-kind creativity; something that is virtually impossible when you completely identify with a group. Attaching your identity to a group is like making a pact to suppress your intrinsic uniqueness; to be more like other people and less like your true self.

Not expressing your individuality is a complete disservice to your unique existence.

Why fit in, when we were meant to stand out?

“If you celebrate your differentness, the world will, too. It believes exactly what you tell it—through the words you use to describe yourself, the actions you take to care for yourself, and the choices you make to express yourself. Tell the world you are one-of-a-kind creation who came here to experience wonder and spread joy. Expect to be accommodated.” -Victoria Moran

10. The people who have made the biggest impact on the world have been distinct individuals.

Think about the “great” people we’re all familiar with… Buddha, Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Leonardo Da Vinci…etc. Sure, some of them may have associated with groups, but they’re remembered for their brilliant individuality. They truly did their own thing, living their essence, and that’s what makes them so memorable. No one achieves any greatness by merely maintaining the status quo.

Think about all  successful people, or people you admire as well. They’re all unmistakably themselves. If they merely blended in with the herd, they wouldn’t be who they are.

“What attracts people to me is that I’m relentlessly me, to the point that it’s fucking weird.” -Elliott Hulse

Groups aren’t inherently “bad.” Many groups can greatly contribute to one’s personal development and life experience. But rigidly attaching identity to groups is so limiting. 

You don’t have to abandon every group you belong to and live the life of a hermit. Quite the opposite, in fact. Experience everything life has to offer, and draw upon as many people as possible to create your own unique journey.

And remember… Just be you!

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Stay feelin’ good, feelin’ great.

-Stevie P!