#86 - Rather Attached
Reeling, behind, and present
I’m sometimes asked what I learnt during my time with the monks.
One thing sticks out:
I have everything that I need to be happy.
Welcome new readers! If you’re reading this but haven’t subscribed you can subscribe here:
The 2019 silent retreat was half mediation and half buddhist philosophy.
I’ll be honest, at first I didn’t know what I was doing there.
Some deep down feeling that I needed a change perhaps. But not sure what exactly.
I came into it a religion-sceptic so approached the teaching, especially, with disinterest.
And the first few days were unremarkable.
But then we got to the Buddhist idea of attachment.
That changed everything.
I spent the hours after that session reeling.
It explained everything: The dissatisfaction, the frustration, the impromptu trip to the Himalayas.
It all became clear.
So what is attachment?
Attachment is feeling you need something, or someone, for your happiness.
It can be everything from needing a certain person in your life to a promotion at work, or the new iPhone.
It’s hard to overstate just how rife it is in our society.
I thought, at the time, that I needed to go do an MBA. I was behind some imaginary pace in my mind and an MBA would make that better. Earlier in the retreat I wrote for pages going back and forth on the idea.
I needed that to be happy.
Post learning about attachment I realised just how floored this thinking was.
It was a monumental realisation for me. Attachments governed my life pre-retreat. But I came out carefree.
It finally, after 25 years, dawned on me that there was nothing external I needed for my own happiness.
I had what I needed.
I’d love to tell you it finished there. I came back for the mountains and haven’t had a care in the world since.
The glow wears off, of course.
These days I maintain a healthier perspective, but I’m not completely rid of my attachments.
It’s a tricky one running a startup.
There’s always a sense of: We just need to get to X cabins, or raise the next funding round… Then I’ll be happy.
I’ve been saying it in my head since we were two blokes “just” needing to get the first cabin. Now we just need to get the 15th.
Nothing’s particularly changed.
Some dissatisfaction is healthy. Necessary even.
Urgency is key. But there are ways to go about it and ways to not. For most founders it’s the latter. It’s wearing- always feeling like the next stage is where you need to be.
I’m coaching myself against this. The journey really is the destination, and you know what? I do have everything I need to be happy.
It’s much healthier coming at it from that place. Someone told me once that running a startup is a marathon and a sprint. I’d say it’s more a marathon and a collection of sprints.
The key is staying power. It’s turning up with energy again and again and again. And that takes a focus on the present.
Today is a gift. There’s joy in everything. All you need to do is look.
My Week in Books📚
Two weeks worth…
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Jesus. Unbelievable bleak. But an incredible book. It follows the life of four friends in New York over 30 years. Not for the faint hearted.
Reclaim Your Time Off by Fab Giovanetti
Very good. I’m usually not a fan of framework-y books but took a lot of value from this. TLDR- do less better.
Napoleon by Ruth Schurr
A Napoleon biography through the lens of the many gardens throughout his life. Wonderful and revealing. A very different angle to the Andrew Roberts biography.
Awareness by Anthony DeMello
I’ve probably read this book more times than any other. Such a joy. I feel a little more enlightened with every read.
A Final Thought 💡
“A great obstacle to happiness is to expect too much happiness.”
- Bernard de Fontenelle