The Resolution Equation (or how to be happy whether or not you achieve your goals)

Recent events have given me a deeper understanding of the Buddha’s insight that attachment invites suffering. As many of us begin to work toward our goals and resolutions for this year, I thought I’d share my attachment story with you. Maybe it will save you some grief.

As most of you know, I had open-heart surgery seven weeks ago to replace a calcified aortic valve. The surgery went well and I was told that in eight weeks I’d be able to resume all my normal activities.

I literally circled that date on my calendar: January 10, 2012.

I have been eagerly anticipating that day for quite some time. Truth be told, I’ve been obsessing over it. I didn’t much care for my life being interrupted and I couldn’t wait to get back to working out, playing golf and having zero restrictions on my lifestyle.

Last week I had a routine check up with my cardiologist and he told me to take it easy for an extra two weeks. I was pissed! In the grand scheme of things, it’s a minor delay, but it upset me. Why? Because I was attached to my agenda and my timetable. I wanted something, badly, and when I didn’t get it, I got upset. The Buddha was right: Attachment invites suffering.

Here’s why I share this with you: You have intentions or goals for ’12. Maybe you’re not recovering from surgery, but no matter what your goals are, you want to achieve them just as much, if not more than I want to get back to my normal life. Like me, you have an agenda and a timetable. Am I right?

Unless you understand the relationship between intention and attachment, not only are you sabotaging your chance at realizing your resolutions, but more importantly, you’re inviting suffering into your life.

I want to present to you what I call “The Resolution Equation.” This simple yet profound equation, if lived, will not only make it more likely that you’ll achieve your goals, but it insures your inner peace and happiness—whether or not your goals are achieved. Here it is:

Intention – attachment = peace

Let me explain in case you flunked math ☺. Intention, minus or without attachment to outcome, equals peace (and probably success—though if you truly understand this equation, success won’t matter to you, for it’s not up to you. But I’m getting ahead of myself.)

Conventional wisdom’s equation is, of course, the exact opposite. It reads, “Intention plus attachment equals success. Most people believe that a person’s ability to achieve any goal is directly proportional to how much he or she wants it, craves it and hungers for it, all of which are euphemisms for attachment.

But Life, in my experience, has its own agenda and certainly its own timetable. We spend far too much time thinking and believing that we are in charge of everything.

What brought me suffering, and what I’m asking you to consider, was that I forgot that I’m not in charge of outcomes. I got attached to my way, my agenda and my timetable and when Life had a different agenda, my peace and happiness (temporarily) left me.

So set your intentions, make resolutions and define your goals. If you want to lose weight, grow your business or even if you desire to fall in love or rekindle the relationship you’re in, that’s fine. In fact, that’s wonderful. They’re all wonderful. It was okay for me to be stoked about getting my life back on January 10 and it’s okay for you to be stoked about your goals too.

But no matter what we want, if we realize that in the end, we are simply and gloriously a part of the ongoing unfolding story of the universe, we won’t suffer when things don’t happen the way we’d like them to.

Don’t hold on too tightly to your resolutions. In fact, release them. They are not required for your peace and happiness. However, if you think they are—and most do—you’re setting yourself up to suffer, a lot. Achieving your goals is not necessary for you to be happy. All that’s needed for happiness is here right now.

Your value is not determined by the shape of your body. Your worth is not determined by the size of your bank account and your aliveness is not dependent on the status of your love life. Who you are is beyond all that. You and I are being held and supported by Divinity and Its agenda is unfolding through you and AS you.

So go about your business this year. But remember, the outcome is really none of your business.

Roy Biancalana

Roy Biancalana is an author, a certified relationship coach, a certified “Living Inquiry” facilitator and a spiritual teacher. He has been supporting the personal growth and life-transformation of thousands of people for nearly 25 years. His passion is working with men and women who are committed to awakening to their true spiritual nature and experiencing the love life they most desire. With a warm, personal and informal style, Roy specializes in supporting single people in attracting the love of their lives and also helping those who are in committed partnerships experience a deeper level of intimacy. READ MORE

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