Many people are unhappy because life doesn’t turn out the way we want. Our happiness is attached to specific outcomes which don’t always materialise. By detaching from outcomes, we can find happiness in the process. It won’t matter whether or not the outcome materialises. How do we do this?
1. Identify possible outcomes
Simplify the possible outcomes to two broad categories. You will either get what you want, or you won’t. For instance: either you get the job or you don’t; either he will come back to you or he won’t.
2. Plan the best action for each outcome
The best action is the one that makes you better off no matter which outcome happens. This also tends to be the best way we can treat ourselves in any case. Here’s an example:
After a break-up it is common to hope that the other person comes back to us. If he comes back, then there is no need to grieve and your best action is to continue exercising so you’ll be in great shape when he sees you again. If he does not come back, your best action is still to continue exercising through your grief. Then, you’ll be in great shape to find happiness by dating other people.
The outcome makes no difference to our best course of action. This works because we have chosen a course of action that is the best thing we can do for each outcome.
3. Find happiness in the action
Now we can focus on the action which is within our control, rather than the outcome which is outside our control.
If we have done Step 2 above well, this action will bring us happiness in two ways. First, we feel confident that we are in control of our lives. Second, our actions will bring tangible benefits such as a better appearance. This gives a double boost to happiness.
Bonus: Help others find happiness
When we detach from outcomes, we also release those around us from the need to produce our desired outcomes. This frees them to be themselves, to live their own lives freely and joyfully instead of trying to fulfill some need in ours.
Conversely, if they are the ones making demands on you, learn to detach from their problems.
Very often, our detachment from outcomes and the joy it brings makes us attractive to others who then want to be around us. By detaching from what we want, we very often get what we used to want. And even if we don’t get it, it doesn’t matter because we’ve detached from those outcomes. We can be happy no matter what.
11 replies on “Find Happiness by Detaching from Outcomes”
Who would have thought ‘detachment’ releases those around us to be themselves – what a great piece of advice – thanks.
Detachment definitely takes much practice!! It seems once I get better at letting something go, whether it be people places or things, a new attachment appears 🙂 makes me crazy sometimes…but in a much healthier way these days! Thanks for sharing your insights and I’m looking forward to many more.
I was just reading the writings of some Buddhist masters and even they say it is a lifelong practice, so I guess it is only normal that once an old attachment is released, new ones claim our affections. We are just normal 🙂
You are AWESOME for taking the time to do this for me. I hope to see some more new material from you soon.
Thanks so much for your lovely and encouraging comment. I’ve been really busy, and apologise for the late replies to your comments, but yes I hope to be writing again soon!
I had posted a comment yesterday but do not see it. Thanks.
I went through my spam folder and found your post. Apparently it was sent to spam because you had inserted a link back to your site. I’ve restored your previous comment. Thanks for dropping by!
Yes, those “expectations” can get us all stressed out and disappointed. It is not wrong to have some expectations but we also need to remember that folks are not going to be able to meet ALL. No one is perfect, but that is not an excuse not to do what is right. At the age of 52, I am finally learning to not look to my live in boyfriend (age 57) for everything. Yes, he is great, but I found myself getting into arguments over silly stuff – life is far too precious – let certain stuff go and move on. Great post!
Hello Joyce! Yes I’m not posting as much now. Still working on detaching too, though it’s easier with practice 🙂 Feeling frustration is part of the process and there’s nothing wrong with it. Thanks for dropping by and commenting!
JD, late response I know but thanks!
Hello Daphne! Been missing your writings. You have nice insights there about detaching from outcomes. I’m still in the process of growing and learning, and I can’t say I’m as detached as I should be, which explains the frustrations I still experience. I hope I could indeed be able to let go of these expectations, and to be more secure in God’s love, knowing that whatever happens, there will always be a constant outcome that will never let me down.
Outcomes guide us, but it’s the journey we grow from.
One of my mentors is quick to remind me, “Focus on what you control, and let the rest go.”