attachment is suffering

How Your Attachments Suffocate You

In the previous article, The Vicious Cycle of Conditional Happiness, we explored how our desires trap us in a vicious cycle, creating the illusion that we are developing genuine and lasting happiness.

Meanwhile, we rely heavily on our surroundings, our relationships, and the things we hold dear. Not just once but we need constant confirmation of all of these throughout our lives. Everytime any of these conform to our hopes and expectations, we consider ourselves happy. 

However, the moment this validation is threatened—whether through loss or the fear of losing something—we experience suffering. The resulting feelings of loss, grief, worry, or fear often go unnoticed as we seek constant relief, masking this reality with a thick layer of smog.

Now, let’s delve deeper into how our attachments—which include both conscious and unconscious desires—prevent us from experiencing true, unconditional happiness. By understanding the intricacies of our minds and expectations, we can clear away the toxic fumes that suffocate us.

Note: In this article, we will explore some of the more subtle complexities of the mind and how our expectations fit in. If you’re new to this topic or haven’t fully grasped the concepts discussed in pleasure and vexation, please revisit them to potentially avoid any misinterpretations or offense. I have no intention to confuse or offend anyone and my intention is solely to help you achieve a mind free from any burdens.

Why do you like it?

Think about the last time you bought yourself a new outfit or pair of shoes. Whether it was a fancy dress, slim-fit pants, a slick jacket, or perhaps a stylish shirt, you likely had specific preferences in mind. Maybe you were drawn to a particular style, color, or even a specific brand.

Even if fashion isn’t your thing, when you need a pair of shoes and are faced with a display of them, you still have your preferences. With just a quick glance from left to right and top to bottom, you can rule out shoes that don’t appeal to you and identify a few potential options that match your taste. It’s almost instinctual, isn’t it?

How on earth could you possibly be that fast in your selection process?
“Well, I just like those and not like the other ones,” you’ll say.

The same principle applies when browsing through clothing racks. Some items are immediately dismissed as not worth considering, while others catch your eye. You might spend some time deliberating between a few options, but the fact that you have a preliminary selection speaks volumes. And again, when trying to explain why you like it, your response is usually something like “Just because I like them.” 

But why do you like it exactly?

“Because I like that style.”

Sure, but what about that style appeals to you? Why this style and not another?

Why this particular color combination and not that one?

These questions can be challenging to answer clearly because, ultimately, it boils down to a gut feeling, doesn’t it?

We’re using clothing as an illustration, but this concept extends to every aspect of your life, including people. You simply have certain feelings about things and individuals.

Consider why you’re attracted to your partner. Initially, it might have been their physical appearance. But why did you find them attractive?

“Because I liked their hair, eyes, lips, etc.”

Okay, but what specifically about those features appealed to you?

“Because they were shiny, long, smooth, silky, round, bright, plump, etc.”

But why?

Let’s set aside physical attributes. Maybe you were drawn to their kindness, gentleness, excitement, spontaneity, or simply fell in love with their character as a whole. 

But for what reason?

“Because I appreciate kindness.”

But why?

“Because it makes me feel appreciated, recognized, etc.”

Okay, but why does that matter to you?

While this type of dialogue might seem reminiscent of the endless “why” questions from a curious toddler, it forms a crucial foundation for understanding our perpetual reliance on external factors for happiness.

There are two ways to approach answering these questions in relation to our goal of understanding the mind.

Firstly, our environment plays a significant role in shaping our thoughts and preferences, often without us realizing it. Though we won’t delve deeply into this aspect now, let’s briefly consider an example to provide some clarity and not leave you hanging.

A color experiment

Let’s conduct a quick experiment. I’ll mention a word, and I want you to note the color that immediately springs to mind. Your initial thought is what we’re interested in here. Start by clicking the first “Show more” button below.




It’s highly likely that “blue” came to mind first upon reading “boy” and “pink” for “girl.” But why is that?

This association between colors and gender preferences is deeply ingrained from early childhood. From the moment we’re born, our environment bombards us with messages reinforcing these stereotypes. Parents, family, TV ads, toys, and more all consistently depict blue for boys and pink for girls. Unless there are influences in your environment challenging these norms, you’re generally going to feel that blue is a relatively “better” match for boys, whereas pink is for girls.

If you were to suddenly see a bunch of boys all dressed in pink and girls in blue, regardless of whether you were personally okay with it or not, you would still feel somewhat strange about it deep down inside. And you’d definitely turn your head if you came across a situation like this.

Now, consider this: What if society were to completely reverse these color associations? Imagine if baby girls were dressed in blue and baby boys in pink. If everything you saw on TV portrayed boys in pink and girls in blue. Do you think that boys would still prefer blue? Would there be a collective uprising among baby boys if their clothing wasn’t blue?

In fact, if you asked someone from 19th-century England what color suited boys, they might have said pink, as it was common for baby boys to wear pink shades during that time. 
Indeed, if you were to inquire among various indigenous cultures untouched by Western influence, you would likely encounter vastly different perspectives. In fact, they might find the question itself perplexing.

This illustrates how our thoughts are shaped and continually influenced by our underlying views and perceptions. These thoughts automatically arise based upon our views.

The color that springs to mind for the concept of “luck” is likely to vary more among different people as there is no clear norm of what constitutes a “lucky” color. However, if you’ve been immersed in Chinese culture, for instance, it’s probable that the color “red” would come to mind first since it’s traditionally linked to luck and prosperity.

These examples are simplistic, but society is intricately complex, and we receive numerous inputs daily. The people we spend the most time with have the greatest influence on us. This is not limited to the people you meet offline. If you regularly follow a few people on YouTube, rest assured that you are being influenced to some extent – through developing new views or reinforcing existing ones. We’ll explore this phenomenon more deeply in a future article, as it offers another helpful perspective on understanding the mind.

All questions eventually lead to the same answer

Regardless of your environment and, therefore, regardless of the views you hold, there’s one thing every single being has in common. This is also the second possible answer to our question.

Whatever you like is something you desire. What you desire is what you hope or expect to have because you believe (consciously or unconsciously) it will bring you happiness.


Because we all want to be happy. That’s why.

Why do we want to be happy?

We don’t want to suffer (mentally). 

So we could interpret happiness as a state free from any mental burdens or suffering. I’ve used the word “mentally” here, because there are people, albeit a minority, who take mental delight in some forms of physical hardship. Even then, they don’t want to suffer mentally. 

But why?

This is the nature of the mind. 

If we delve deeper than that right now, we’d also have to talk about the nature of existence.
That may be an interesting topic to explore in the future but our main focus should be understanding the key factors that can liberate us from suffering and experience unconditional happiness. Otherwise, we’ll lose track of why we’re here and waste precious time.

Compare it to getting shot. As your bleeding to death, should you ponder over who shot you and why? And should you then determine what gun was used and what type of bullet? Or should you first seek help and save your own life?

We’re trying to save ourselves first and foremost. 

We could apply this concept to a less bloody scenario as well.

Why those shoes? 

In the previous article, our focus was primarily on conscious desires, as they are easier to identify and address. However, in reality, much of our lives are influenced by unconscious desires that operate without our awareness.

In the beginning of this article, I introduced the term attachment. Essentially, whatever we are attached to, we desire to obtain, and whatever we desire, we become attached to. These two aspects reinforce each other, whether the object of desire is physical or mental.

if you look in the dictionary, you’ll usually find attachment explained in the context of affection or love which are sometimes referred to as emotional attachment. People often wonder what is the difference between love and attachment. We won’t go over the specifics in this article, because for that we also need to go over the definition of love itself including unconditional love. However, to provide a simple explanation for the time being:

When love is reserved only for specific individuals, it signifies a strong attachment within the mind. It is only attachment that leads to suffering, not love itself.
Love is compassion and the genuine feeling of happiness you wish upon others. Attachment, as we’ll discuss in this article, leads to the formation of hopes and expectations which can NOT be separated from vexation and suffering.

For instance, you might value a specific car model, feeling somewhat incomplete until you possess it. Similarly, you might attach value to the tone in which people speak to you, feeling content when it aligns with your expectations, and disappointed or upset when it does not. For example, you might expect people to greet you and express appreciation in a particular manner.

Both examples illustrate forms of attachment, just different manifestations of it. In a deeper sense, attachment is an entire mental affair, since it occurs within the mind itself. It’s important to note that the perceived object of attachment does not at all need to exist in the physical world in order for attachment to arise. That’s because attachment is ultimately a perception.

Let’s go back to our clothing example. Let’s say you’re in a shop looking for shoes.
There are ten pairs in front of you. As you glance over them, you come to the conclusion that one pair is extremely ugly and one pair is absolutely sparkling. The other pairs fall somewhere in between.

It’s because of the unconscious view or belief that certain things, whether physical or not, can contribute to your happiness, while others can take it away. Of course, there is neither happiness nor misery to be found in a pair of shoes, but that doesn’t stop you from feeling that the “beautiful” shoes are able to satisfy you.

In your mind, that one specific pair can bring you greater satisfaction than all the others on the shelf. Now that you’ve seen them, you want them. And because of that, ironically, you are now dissatisfied.

But I feel really excited when I’m looking at these shoes. How can I possibly be discontent?

All right, if what you say is true, then keep inspecting those shoes, cradle them gently in your hands, and savor the velvety softness as it caresses your fingertips…

…but don’t actually buy them.

Now, just walk away. 

Remember that you still want the shoes as you walk away.

Is that a pleasurable feeling? 
Obviously not.

See how that excitement is actually a form of vexation? You need to buy those shoes in order to relieve yourself of that feeling. When you focus on obtaining them, you are focusing on a result. In other words, you’re focused on getting what you want. When that happens, that vexation gets relieved to some extent—especially if you can visualize it strongly—because mentally you are already a proud shoe owner. (There are a few finer nuances at play, but this is a good enough explanation for now. We’ll delve into these nuances in the next article).

However, the moment that hope dissipates, no relief is possible, and it becomes clear that there was nothing more than a vexatious feeling building up all this time.

Look over to your right for a moment. You see the person next to you admiring the pair you found so ugly?  Well, they happen to think it’s beautiful. They are vexing for this pair whereas you are vexing for another.

In fact, they are baffled as to how you can even crave the shoes that you’re ever so delicately holding in your hands and cherishing them as if they were rare gems.

Both of your views may manifest in different thoughts, but the underlying nature of them is exactly the same; you both perceive value in an external object. You both perceive that you can feel happier when you get your desired object in your possession

While pondering the mystery of the other person’s fascination with those behemoths of shoes, you discreetly confirm if your enchanted footwear is available in your preferred size. You search, but find nothing. At the surface, your excitement seems to be making way for some unease, as you worry whether your size is in stock. You make haste and inquire with the staff.

They conduct a thorough search on your behalf.

In that moment, hope is what keeps you alive. Yet, hope alone is not sufficient, is it? What’s the point if they don’t find your size?! Therefore, hope, in and of itself, is also vexatious. But you’ll only feel that when you don’t get your desired result. If you do get what you want, that vexation gets relieved at once, and you will feel on top of the world. Or on your shoes, in this case.

Staff is still searching, what the heck is taking them so long? This can’t be a good sign. Oh wait, perhaps….
Hallelujah! They have your size.

The unease is relieved, and you feel happy. Without you knowing it, the belief that something else can make you happy gets reinforced. After all, you feel great right now, and it seems that’s because of the shoes.

You forget all about the fact that it was because of the belief that those same shoes had inherent value in the first place, that lead you to feel restless and uneasy just a few moments ago. The person next to you seemed to be fine not having your desired shoes in their size.

You put on the shoes. Wonderful, they fit perfectly. You walk around, and it’s as if you’re walking on puffy clouds that have descended from heaven itself. You look into the mirror. “Wow” is all you have to say.

You buy the shoes and walk out of the store with a smile on your face. For all intents and purposes, replace “shoes” with any object that matches your own preferences. It could be food, clothes, cars, jewelry, makeup, phones, gadgets, knitwear, or absolutely anything else.

So you just got what you want. Are you really happy now?

As we know from the cycle we discussed last time, your happiness is an illusion as no thing can ever truly fulfill you.

Cycle of conditional happiness

It seems that this cycle operates only once for a single object just like in our shoe scenario:

  1. The moment you saw those shoes, you wanted them.
  2. Then you took action, looked for the shoes, and inquired with the shop’s staff. This was the vexation phase.
  3. Then you obtained them, or bought them.
  4. You were consequently relieved of that vexation and, hence, felt elated.

Now, of course, you’re going to want new shoes in the future, so this cycle is going to start again, but that’s on the “macro” level. I’ll explain this a bit further down.

To avoid any misunderstanding:
We’re discussing wanting to have specific shoes, not the general need for shoes. The fact that you need shoes is not the issue. You want to have particular shoes, not just any kind. For example, you won’t wear shoes that you find unappealing.

What we’ve discussed over the last few articles is that we know any external input, in this scenario the shoes, cannot truly contribute to your happiness whatsoever. But from the outside, it seems that it can, and here is where we get tricked. Let’s briefly review before we continue further.

Consider it carefully. If you experience a moment of satisfaction upon seeing yourself with your shoes, feeling them around your feet, receiving compliments, or when you’re reminded of them in another way, it suggests that you were in a state of lesser satisfaction just prior to that. Would you agree?

You might feel like your joy increases by a few points at least. Let’s say you feel like a 90 when you see yourself with your new shoes. That implies you felt less than a 90 before that moment, perhaps around a 70. After all, you feel temporarily more satisfied now. If it was somehow an addition of satisfaction then that feeling should at least stay the same or even increase the longer you’d look at your shoes if they are some sort of “satisfaction addend.” But what happens if you continue looking? Does your mood, at the very least, stay at 90, or does it increase even further? 

No, quite the opposite occurs. Soon enough, you tire of the sight, and you wish to see something else. Consequently, you begin to feel vexed again, dropping even below 70, which is worse than before!

This happens because the shoes are incapable of genuinely making you happy, but your mind tries nonetheless. Perhaps the simplest way to comprehend that your happiness is merely the temporary relief of vexation is by observing that every joyful moment (related to your shoes or any other desired mental or physical object) should have added something to your overall happiness. However, the net result remains a big fat zero, even if you’ve experienced a thousand moments of joy. If each moment added a small increment, say +20, a thousand times, you’d expect 20,000 units of joy. Yet, where do they end up in the end? It’s akin to purchasing an expensive diamond, only to realize it’s a fake.

Alternatively, it’s like a stomach devouring food, filling up momentarily, but soon emptying again, returning to its original state and craving more food. In this analogy, the “food” represents the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches, and thoughts which the mind so desperately desires.

And we haven’t even touched on how you’d feel if your new shoes were damaged or stolen, or something along those lines. It’s pretty obvious this would affect your joy, but damaged or dirty shoes are not capable of making you feel bad. Let’s say you stain one of your shoes. Upon seeing them, you feel annoyed. But what about the people around you? Why don’t they feel the same way?

That’s because they are not attached to them whereas you are. So it’s due to your own desire you feel annoyed.

The inevitable side-effect of attachment

You always have a picture in the back of your mind of how things should be or behave.

This image is typically quite specific, with particular colors, shapes, and styles. It can also be more abstract, especially regarding social norms or communication. Whatever it is that you desire, and hence are attached to, you expect them to be in a certain way as long as you hold the view/belief that you need this for your happiness. This creates an expectation or hope that you unconsciously project onto all the things you come into contact with

I say “you,” but more accurately it would be “the mind.” See, you don’t want to feel upset, but it still happens. That’s because the mind perceives that the expectations it sets are not being fulfilled.

You have countless images in the back of your mind, thus countless desires and expectations, of how the world around you should be.

It’s crucial to realize this in order to break free from them. They keep you trapped in the cycle of conditional happiness. I would even go so far as to say they suffocate you. But if you find regular relief from your vexation by having your expectations met, you won’t feel like that at all. In fact, you’ll feel reborn each time you get “to breathe” again. That feeling only feels so good because you were struggling to breathe in the first place. You have to undergo the stress of not breathing in order to experience the joy of breathing once more.

Consider this: Would you intentionally hold your breath just to experience the relief of breathing in and out again? But doesn’t it genuinely feel good after holding your breath to exhale and then take that first flow of oxygen in again?

Let’s delve deeper into this so you understand what I mean.

So let’s try and get a glimpse of how many expectations are burdening your mind.

Consider your own appearance. When you stand in front of the mirror, where do you look? Do you focus on your hair? Your forehead? Your eyes? Your nose? Your lips? Your chin? Your skin? Your pores? You glance all over the place.

But why do you scan your face multiple times, from top to bottom and side to side? Shouldn’t one or two glances be enough?

Sure, you have a responsibility to appear presentable for your job or to meet societal expectations. People won’t accept it if you don’t at least rub the sleep out of your eyes, brush your teeth, wash your face, and comb your hair. But more often than not, you go way beyond that.

You harbor numerous expectations about every single facial feature. Each time you face the mirror, your mind meticulously scans every detail and compares it to the mental image it has formed of how it should be. The closer your facial features resemble that image, the better you feel. Conversely, the more they deviate, the more discontent you feel. It’s easy to see how you suffer when your ideal image isn’t met. Yet, as long as you have a mental picture, you cling to it and you suffer regardless.

You need confirmation each time you glance in the mirror. Your expectations must be fulfilled every single time. Hence, whenever that expectation isn’t met, you feel uneasy. For instance, if you were to get a big pimple on your face, or worse, a significant scar, you’d feel even worse. 

But even when your expectations are met, you can’t get completely rid of that unsettled or incomplete feeling because you haven’t actually stopped searching. This is a bit subtle but essential to comprehend. But don’t worry if it makes no sense yet. Next article, we’ll discuss this part in more detail.

For now, try and see if you can reflect about the following:

Suppose for a moment that you are reasonably content with the way you look. Then, upon looking in the mirror right now, you’ll feel a sense of relief as long as what you see is in the condition that you expected.

But that does not mean that the mind has stopped its search.

Let’s say you close your eyes for a second and then open them again. Isn’t the same expectation still there? It never went away. So it needs to be fulfilled yet again. That’s why the cycle portrayed earlier is active much more than just once.

The mind is always seeking. Seeking is everything but pleasurable. It’s only the relief from seeking that provides pleasure. That’s why you feel pleasant when your image of beauty aligns with what you see in the mirror.

This cycle repeats day in and day out, yet not once has it added anything to your happiness. The net effect is zero. And you sincerely believe that you’re happy?

To really get this point across, the above represents the best-case scenario. But how many of us are actually discontent to some degree with our appearance? Isn’t that the vast majority of us?
Going in front of the mirror under these circumstances is always at least somewhat disappointing. And the more the image you see in the mirror deviates from the picture in the back of your mind, the more of a torture it becomes.

What are you doing to yourself?

The beauty or ugliness you perceive is not in the sight itself. It’s a mental fabrication!

As long as you have a picture in the back of your mind, you will not be able to rest. No matter how beautiful you or other people think you are. This I can guarantee.

Your desires are suffocating you

Your desires are suffocating you. When you grasp this truth, when you internalize it, you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about. I’m not talking out of spite here. I may come across a bit more direct than usual but that’s because I really wish for you to understand this and free your mind.

It’s not just about your facial features. Are you satisfied with with your body? How is your muscle tone, your skin, your curvature, your leanness, or your body fat percentage? Do you like the shape of your shoulders, your arms, your legs, your glutes, etc.?

For instance, I used to be into bodybuilding when I was younger. I had over 15kg of muscle mass more than I do now. I thought I was happy with my body then, but I realize now how much I actually suffered. I constantly needed to see whether my body lived up to my idea of perfection. Whenever I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a window or a mirror, I would quickly scan different body parts, and after each glance, I thought I felt good. However, I was deluding myself.

Even if you aren’t as fixated on your body as I was back then, you still have expectations of how your body should look. Have all those times you felt content about yourself after looking at your own body contributed to your happiness in any way? Again, the net result is zero.

If the joy you felt after seeing or feeling your body could be represented with a marble being added to a jar, why hasn’t the jar been filled up to the brim after all these years? The sad reality is that each time you add a marble, you genuinely feel like the jar is getting filled up. But didn’t you feel that way years ago in the exact same manner each time you added one of those marbles?

happiness is elusive
Instead of marbles we could also use the pot with gold analogy. It all boils down to the same thing: it can not actually be filled as is also explained in: Is Your Happiness a Leaky Glass?

Einstein once said:

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

This quote isn’t meant to offend in any way, so please don’t take it as such. When the mind holds onto this warped view of reality, you will always feel way you are genuinely filling up that jar of marbles or that pot of gold. You can’t help it.

The perception you have is a natural result that stems from corresponding causes. We can’t help ourselves when ignorance clouds our minds. It’s simply cause and effect.

After someone steps in a muddy puddle, can you then expect them to keep their shoes clean?
Of course not!

That’s why it’s crucial to understand what’s truly happening and make a change in how we perceive happiness. It’s possible to remove false beliefs little by little and gradually realize the true nature of the mind. Ignorance, or the false views and beliefs we have about reality (of the mind), represents the dirt that causes the water to become muddy. When we cultivate an understanding and come to a realization of reality, it’s analogous to purifying the water by removing the dirt, clearing it from its murkiness.

Are you a photo scientist?

Remember when you gather with some people and take a photo together? What’s your first instinct when you look at the photo? Do you focus on yourself first? Do you feel the need to zoom in to see things more clearly?

These actions are all efforts to relieve yourself from vexation. You can’t resist the urge to take a quick glance even when there’s no practical benefit in doing so. And whether you have a look or not, there is definitely no need to study it like a scientist.

Setting aside considerations about yourself, don’t you have expectations about the people around you? How they should look or behave? What about the place you live? Why is everything arranged in a certain way? Why do you possess all the things you do? Are they all truly necessary? Apart from items essential for convenience or sustenance, could you dispose of everything else?

If not, they are a burden on the mind. Unfortunately, you may only become conscious of this burden when you have to start getting rid of them. Even those things you haven’t seen in years and had forgotten all about them. Now, when presented with the option, the moment you’re attached, you can’t just throw them away. That would hurt you. 

How would you feel if you could never travel again and explore new places? Would you feel content if you were unable to leave your town or city? How would you feel if you could never listen to a song again or hear the birds chirping? Or see the trees and flowers? Don’t you flavor the food so it matches the picture of “tasty” in the back of your mind?

You always compare everything you come in touch with to the pictures of expectation and hope you carry in the back of your mind. Though they are void of any substance themselves, the weight they carry is very real. For as long as a mind holds the view that happiness is to be found out there, it will fabricate images to which it forms a strong bond (attachment), which it then keeps projecting onto the perceived physical and mental objects it comes in contact with through the senses.

It lives to do just that, constantly seeking and comparing. The seeking gives a sense of incompleteness and dissatisfaction that can only be alleviated (temporarily) by the belief that the mind gets what it was searching for. But the search has and never will be completed as long as ignorance prevails. That’s why you have never stopped searching for happiness.

As I’ve said many times before, as long as we don’t harm anyone in the process, there’s nothing wrong with many of the things we do. But for as long as do them with the aim of being happy we’re setting ourselves up for failure. Not once, not twice, but…

…an infinite number of times.

You’re misinterpreting your memories

Out of all your experiences, don’t you want to think back to the most enjoyable things you’ve done, the most beautiful things you’ve seen or heard, tasted or felt? Don’t you want to recall the most memorable moments in your life?

See, even now, after the experience or thing you thought would make you happy, that time has passed, and now you have to rely on a memory of that thing in order to feel happy again

These experiences are no longer real; they are in the past. It’s so severe that the thought of losing your memory would utterly vex you, even completely ruin you. This is how attached you are. Of course, you wouldn’t mind forgetting some of your bad memories, but the irony is that you can’t have “good” memories without “bad” ones. The moment the mind attaches itself, it has divided and separated the world into “good” and “bad.” It now desires one thing and avoids another. The result is that you’re always searching and therefore vexation is always going to be an inherent part of your existence.

We’ll speak on the topic of separation in future articles since this deserves great attention. It’s in fact so critical, a separate section (no pun intended) has to be created for it altogether, so please be patient as this website develops further.

I’m not saying that memory is not important. Quite the opposite. We should preserve our memory the best we can, for it’s an incredibly useful tool to maneuver through life and, more importantly, to come to a realization of real happiness. Because we have to verify all these concepts within our own minds and use our previous experiences. For that, memory is essential.

However, memory itself can’t provide you with happiness. If you have to think of something you once enjoyed in order to feel joyful again, then that shows that the event itself has failed in delivering you true joy. Because you can’t be more joyful than joyful. The mind cannot be satisfied through these experiences.

That’s why you are still filling up the jar with marbles, still desperately making your illusory additions. And when you think back to a past event and feel joyful about it, all that says is that you are relieving yourself of vexation once again. You go from a state of discontentment to a temporary state of lesser discontentment. If it actually made you content, then why are you still relying on all these things to this day?

You need to keep thinking back, again and again. You still keep trying to fill up that jar but, in all honesty, you have to admit that the net effect of that happiness is again zero. Otherwise you could simply stop doing it and be happy regardless – you can’t fill up a jar that is already full.

So how can you truly say that any of those things have “brought” you happiness? If you had none of these expectations and desires hidden in the deep dark, you would feel no such vexation. You wouldn’t be searching, and you’d feel completely content, at ease, peaceful like you’ve never felt before.

Vegetables can’t close windows

In case you wonder, “But won’t we all become vegetables if we stop searching?”

You stop searching for happiness outside. That doesn’t mean you stop living. For example, this website hasn’t been created by a head of broccoli, has it?

That said, you can’t stop searching for as long as you haven’t come to a realization. You can’t force yourself to stop your search either; it doesn’t work like that.

Imagine you left the window open in the middle of winter and it’s -25ºC. Funnily enough, this actually happened to me once in a foreign place.

When you feel cold, you naturally seek ways to warm yourself, right? You might adjust the thermostat, wrap yourself in a blanket, or add extra layers of clothing. You can’t expect yourself to feel comfortable in the cold all the time, can you? Remember, it’s not just a slight chill; it’s genuinely cold. So, you instinctively take action to address it.

However, the solution doesn’t lie in simply making an effort to raise the temperature or bundle up. Even if you do, you’ll still wonder why it’s so cold because you haven’t grasped the underlying cause. The real answer lies in realizing that the window is open. Once you recognize this, you’ll just close it. There’s no need to force anything. Then, you’ll be comfortable without having to try to be comfortable through needing to take all those measures and without worrying about the reason behind the cold.

Similarly, our job is simply to realize. Then, things happen naturally. Happiness happens naturally.

Where is the end of the road?

You have expectations about countless things you come across in life, all the things you can experience with your senses, including your mental sense of thought and memory. As long as the mind holds the view that happiness can be extracted from these, it cannot be free from vexation, tension, or unhappiness.

All it can do is use the senses to desperately try and fulfill its expectations and be temporarily relieved from these negative states of mind. Temporarily, though, because happiness cannot be found in anything. That’s why vexation always returns, sooner or later, each and every time.

How can a mind possibly be free if it has countless desires and expectations that always need to be fulfilled, yet cannot be fulfilled?

There are, in fact, so many expectations that the mind is always finding relief one way or another. I will provide more detailed evidence for this in the next article, so it will become much clearer how our search for happiness is a hopeless journey with no end until one can come out of this trap by understanding the nature of this reality and finally feel true freedom of mind.

mindfulness exercise and happiness exercise.

Happiness and Mindfulness exercise

In this article, I provided a several examples of desires that often go unnoticed. Now, I encourage you to think whether this is also happening in your life. I can tell that you it is, but that’s not how this works. It is your own reflection of it that’s going to lead to an internal transformation.

Your attachments and unconscious desires could manifest themselves through your appearance, how you want to be treated, the taste of your food, your clothing preferences, interactions with loved ones or others, enjoying nature, or any other aspect of your life that holds significance for you.

The easiest way to spot them is whenever you feel pleasure or aversion.
When you feel pleasure, you know that something conforms to your expectations and hopes and when you feel aversion something does not conform.
I encourage you to take, at the very least, a few days to spot these moments of pleasure and aversion in your daily life before moving on to the next article.

When you spot them, try and trace them back to a desire, or attachment.

A) Here’s an example how you can reflect on it when it comes to pleasure or enjoyment:

Let’s say I open TikTok.
I notice I feel relaxed and amused as I watch through some videos.
Is this pleasure? Well here a simple way to verify:

  1. Is this pleasant feeling dependant on something?
    Q: If I switch off TikTok, will I feel less pleasurable?
    Q: If I switch it off briefly, just to check my state of mind, would I feel like going back to it?
    Q: If someone were to interrupt my activity, would I feel less pleasurable? (Discounting anything you also desire at that moment).

    A: If you answer any of these with yes, then it’s a clear sign that your pleasure is something conditional as is to be expected.
  2. Am I doing something that I want to do right now?
    If I am doing something that I want, or desire to do, then pleasure naturally manifests. That’s because the vexatious feeling, or discontentment, of wanting is being relieved.

    Note: this is not about whether or not there are other things that you want to do. There will always be other things.

B) Here’s an example how you can reflect on it when it comes to aversion:

Let’s say my wife comes home and starts to jibber-jab all over the place about her day, and I start feeling annoyed. Is she the cause of this feeling of aversion, or is it because I have an attachment somewhere?

  1. If my wife stopped yapping, would I feel better?
    If so, that means I want something else to happen in order to feel good. I’m dependent on this for my happiness.
  2. Are there other times when I’m okay with her yippedee-yap?
    If yes, then again, the problem is that I desire other sensory inputs at this time. I have placed my happiness on an external proverbial plate.
  3. Can her friends tolerate her jibbery-jip-yip?
    If yes, then there is no inherent unpleasantness in her yip-yap. I sense something that does not exist in the outside world. That means whatever I’m perceiving right now does not conform to the mentally fabricated picture in the back of my mind. The problem is that I have a picture in the back of my mind, i.e., an expectation or hope to find happiness.

Take at least a few days to ponder these questions before moving on to the next article, as we will delve more deeply into the intricacies we’ve been discussing in this one. If the current topic hasn’t become clearer by then or if you find yourself confused, continuing without clarification will lead to further confusion. Please refer to the previous articles in the section on Pleasure and Vexation, or leave a comment/send an email if you still have questions. I will do my best to help you to the best of my ability.

In the following article, we will explore the topic more deeply so that you can deepen your wisdom and understanding further.


The mind desperately seeks happiness. However, as long as it sees reality in a distorted way, it believes happiness can only be found in external things like objects, thoughts, and memories. It clings to these, creating countless attachments that clutter the mind. Each attachment results in the mind fabricating a mental picture of how the desired object should look, sound, smell, taste, or feel. The mind constantly compares sensory inputs to these mental images, hoping for satisfaction. But true happiness remains elusive as no happiness can ever be derived from any such sensory input.

This relentless search leads to an endless cycle of comparison and seeking, resulting in zero net happiness. Until the mind realizes the futility of this quest, it remains trapped. Even recalling past joys offers only temporary relief, as the mind keeps returning to them, stuck in a cycle of conditional happiness. This vexatious cycle persists due to the mind’s ignorance of true happiness, burdened by endless desires and expectations.

Understanding the impact of these desires and expectations, we can begin dismantling the massive wall they create, freeing ourselves from their weight and opening up a path to true happiness.

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