# 88: Learning Detachment

Chopra, Deepak (2007/1994). The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Pocketbook Guide to Fulfilling Your Dreams, 80.

Story behind the Passage

The best things come to your life when you do not expect them. Does that sound familiar? If yes, you have one ability that sets you apart from all those who never experience this mystery of life: You are able to SEE the unexpected. I argue that the most important element that allows you to see the unexpected is your ability to practice detachment.

I know, this still sounds very vague. Let me give you an example. I just talked to a dear friend of mine and I had a particular topic that I wanted to talk about. My goal was to find out what she would recommend as a sales strategy for me at this point (yes, also people who write sales books for clients need that kind of outsider perspective for their own business). As it often happens, we first talked about many other things that have happened in our lives during the past months. But then, exactly these things led to a solution to my problem which I had already mentally put away a few months ago.

What does this say about detachment? Well, first, I was willing to let go of a product that I had previously really clung to. But it simply made no sense to sell it at a certain point. And now, I was willing to let go of my strict agenda for our conversation. Instead, I let the conversation flow and then as we came to speak about the sales issue, I listened carefully, and then I was able to reconnect what my friend told me to the product that I had already let go of.

Is this what spiritual “letting go” means?

Yes, I think so, at least partly. If there is anything I know about spiritual happiness, it always deals with letting go — of things, of thoughts, even of your idea of the “self.” That was probably also the reason why I bought this slim book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. I am pretty sure that I came to buy it because someone recommended the author to me. But I cannot say that I ever got into Deepak Chopra. After all, if you get into spirituality, the names are not the big issue anymore. Yes, it is nice if you relate so some spiritual teacher more than to others. Their messages, however, should not differ that much — otherwise there is something wrong with them and their supposedly ancient philosophical wisdom.

Even though this might sound a bit esoteric, I do recommend that everyone dealing with business at least makes some effort to read at least one book about the relationship between success and spirituality. I am not saying it should be about a certain spiritual tradition. You find great spiritual teachers and authors in every tradition; be it Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, or whatever you can think of. What is important is that you read with an open heart. You let go of — practice detachment — of your stereotypical notion of spirituality to then find out what it really means in the book you are studying. So, let us do this with the passage on detachment now.

My Learnings

“Practice detached involvement.” I have already talked about the ability to see new opportunities in a situation if you let go of your previous “plan” — be it an agenda or some tactic to steer a conversation. “Detached involvement” is a beautiful way of describing the phenomenon even more universally. Detachment is NOT staying out of a situation or a relationship. Instead, you are even deeper into it if you let go of your preconceived thoughts. Because these thoughts are NOT the situation itself, even though you might often confuse the two.

Does that sound weird?

Let me explain it by using a simple example. Whenever I give talks, I talk freely — no notes. Why would I do that? It is because I realized that whenever I had some sort of “manuscript” (I never actually had that, just some notes) — I ended up thinking about the notes more than about what was in my head this very minute. And that felt like there was something distracting me which immediately affected the impact I created with my words. It might not even have been visible or noticeable for my audience. But for me personally, I felt that the energy was not flowing freely to the people.

Ever since I understood this, I let go of any notes. What I do is I write down some keywords before but I do not take them to the talk. And while speaking, I also sometimes jot down some words, so they do not distract me while I speak. The same thing happens when you listen to people in a conversation, by the way. As soon as you focus on the words and thoughts that come up in your head, your mind shifts to you and away from your conversation partner. On the one hand, that is good because focusing your awareness on yourself makes you grounded. On the other hand, this groundedness should be on your whole being, not just on your thoughts. Your ears should still be listening carefully.

So, all this together leads to this state of “detached involvement” in which you are fully present but also fully away from any preconceived ideas that stand in the way and that distract you from listening. Then, you do not have to do ANYTHING. You will automatically come to SEE the opportunities that arise — from a conversation or from any life situation. You are not busy comparing “ideal” and “matter of fact” — you just see what is there without any judgement.

“Accept uncertainty as an essential part of your experience.” You can easily replace the word “experience” with “life.” The problem is that we try to run away from this knowledge that life is essentially uncertain. Of course, this reflex to decrease the feeling of uncertainty is evolution-based. Uncertainty means threatening and whenever there is a threat, we try to run away. Still, uncertainty is only a feeling. So, we can also decide to not feel it. If we know uncertainty is part of life, why worry about it all the time and get emotional?

Again, detachment here means you focus your attention on solving whatever needs to be solved. You can only solve things that are in your sphere of influence. Yes, you can also minimize uncertainty to an extent by gaining more information on something. Still, no matter how much information you have, e.g., on a business decision, you will not fully eliminate your feeling of uncertainty. There will always remain unknown variables. So, if you simply let go of the importance that uncertainty might have, you can focus your attention on all the things that you can actively control. And control here does not mean following some fixed plan. It means taking what comes to you — if you SEE it — and doing something with it.

“Remain open to all possibilities and enjoy every moment in the journey of your life…” This is something that especially very career-focused people can hardly understand. By career, I mean the old notion of a linear career. Breaking away from this ‘ideal’ is very much against German culture. It even took me a long time to realize that this supposed norm ran against my nature. But as soon as I did, I stopped worrying so much and more things came to my life. Remaining “open to all possibilities” is the summary of all aspects mentioned above.

There is only one specific recommendation I can pass on to people who really want to learn detachment. You need to follow your heart and get yourself into situations that create possibilities. In other words, just sitting at home thinking about life all the time is probably the most likely way of not letting possibilities come to your life. I am not saying that you should go out all the time either. No, what I am saying is: follow whatever your inner voice calls you to do. If you are the adventurous type, follow the adventures that are calling you. If not, then do something else. Whatever it is — by following your inner voice you most certainly get on a path that provides you with pleasure and novelty in a way. Both of these things heighten your awareness. And awareness for the present moment is the preliminary for enjoying the journey of life.

Does all this make you “successful,” you might ask now?

Go back to the beginning of this post and read one more time.

Reflection Questions

1) What does spirituality mean to you?

2) Is there anything that you would like to let go of?

3) Are you “open to all possibilities”?

Founder & CEO of Companypoets

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Silke Schmidt

Silke Schmidt

Founder & CEO of Companypoets

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