Unhappiness and negativity is a disease on our planet. Simply watching what is currently playing out in the U.S. political process is a prime example of this. Negativity is polluting our inner beings as surely as we humans are trashing the earth, air and rivers. It is everywhere, not just in places where people don’t have enough, but even more so where people live affluent lives. Is that surprising?
I have visited many countries and seen extreme poverty. I’ve also experienced the other end of the spectrum. I think people who have little form fewer attachments. They tend to form bonds with family, friends, and their culture. Affluent people tend to form attachments to things—bank accounts, homes, cars, iPhones, bling—that seem to define who they are. The more people identify with things, the more they become lost in their ego. Ego is a funny creature, it defines itself by what it forms attachments to, and it always fears loosing what it already has, and it always wants more. That’s how it survives, grows, becomes stronger.
The ego is dependent on material things to survive. When outside influences threaten to take attachments away from the ego, it becomes fearful, fights back, becomes negative. That is human nature. The problem is, that the world is in constant flux, everything is always changing, some faster than others, which means the ego’s attachments are always being threatened. Hence, the ego is always living in fear, in a mode of creating negativity.
So the thing that brings negativity into this world is people’s egos forming attachments to possessions, achievements, other people, or events.
The joy of being, that is: true happiness, comes from within you, and is not dependent on outward attachments. Joy is who you are when the ego’s fear doesn’t take over your thoughts and run your life.
I’m not suggesting that we give up all our possessions and live like the Buddha or Jesus, wandering the earth with a begging bowl. It is possible to own material things and form relationships without forming attachments to them. We can have things without letting our egos define ourselves by what we own. And that, I believe, is the key to diminishing negativity in our lives, and in the world. It comes down to how we define ourselves.
What I am has nothing to do with my bank account, or my house, or my car, or my marriage, or my religion, or my friends, or my books, or my dreams and aspirations. What I am has nothing to do with anything I’ve done in the past, or anything I will do in the future.
When you strip away my ego, what I am is simply the joy of being human and experiencing this amazing world.