I first researched this topic a few months before I left my previous employment. I was looking to reduce my stress levels and I found a rather effective one that comes from the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism and the Jnana yoga path of Hinduism.
They both state (to a similar degree) that all one has to do is free oneself from the attachment to binding desires in order to find peace and contentment. I’m likely making it sound simpler than it is, but it wasn’t difficult to put into practice.
For example, lower and non-binding desires (not having an emotional investment in an unfulfilled outcome) are still embraced, but higher and binding desires (having an emotional investment in an unfulfilled outcome) were left behind. I still make music, brew beer, and write blogs to my heart’s content, but I don’t have any emotional investment in the outcome of these actions or the actions themselves.
Before I discovered this principle, the attachment to unfulfilled desires caused a great deal of suffering. Once I let go of the attachment to those desires, a pleasant calm began washing over me. As Haruki Murakami states, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
While at my previous employment, I had a binding desire for balance from a situation that continued to spiral out of balance. That contributed to the feeling of being stuck and I came up with elaborate ways to get away from that situation.
Those plans would inevitably fail because they were convoluted and had too many stipulations in order to succeed, yet I was bound to the desire that they would be successful. When they failed, it only made me more miserable.
Abdicating the responsibility of my position and walking away was the easiest solution, but I fought tooth and nail to do it the way that I wanted to do it (transitioning from full-time employment to self-employment gradually). I had a binding desire to an outcome which failed every time I attempted it.
Now that I’m free of unfulfilled desires that bind me to suffering, I live a simple life of contentment. It seems like it was easy to do, but the hardest part was engaging in deep introspection and figuring out which unfulfilled desires I was bound to. Most of them were work-related, but the biggest one was music-related.
I know for a good majority of my life, I had a binding desire to make a living off of my music, but I wanted to do it on my terms – talk about arrogance. This desire sputtered along for quite some time, but ended up completely unfulfilled around two years ago. I wrote more about the aftermath of this in my Attaining Happiness post.
Obviously, I’m back to making music, but I’m not bound to desiring any sort of outcome with it. Now that I think about it, the reason I came up with so many different project ideas over the last two years and never followed through with them is because I was bound to the desire that I needed those music projects to be successful and I knew they wouldn’t be, so I never really pulled the trigger and stayed miserable. Now that I don’t care about the outcome, I can follow through with more of them if desired.
I also spoke of finding passion to clean with my Ready to Downsize post, but I don’t think passions and binding desires are one in the same. A passion would be something you’re compelled to do, regardless of the outcome. You can attach a binding desire to that outcome and create unnecessary stress, or you can just do it and not concern yourself with the outcome.
This post has definitely opened up more introspection and assessment of my life lived, which I’m sure I will dive into with future posts. I’ll try not to be too boring about it, but I have no binding desire to be entertaining.