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Roya R. Rad, MA, PsyD Headshot

The Difference Between Attachment and Love, Peace and Happiness

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What is the difference between attachment, love, peace, and happiness?

Attachment

Attachment can be defined as a warm bond that forms between one person and another; however, we can also feel attachment to objects and even abstract things. People get attached to their beliefs, their car, their job, and a list of other things. Between people, the function of attachment is to tie the two together in space, and it continues over time. Attachment to someone or something that is positive for us, up to the point of being nurturing, is healthy, but if we don't find a balance in the way we're attached, it may turn into dependency or go even further, turning into obsession. In those cases, attachment becomes limiting rather than expanding and/or nurturing and can damage us and the other person.

Love

Love can be defined as an essential element of a person's experience, which can include affection, attraction, self-sacrifice, and a sense of connection to nature, other living things, other humans, and ultimately to some superior being. A true sense of love is essential in the process of self-identification. Love has many components, from commitment to intimacy to passion. We need to connect to others and our surrounding to be able to grow and experience life to its fullest. But in order to have a feeling of love and connection, we need to learn to differentiate love from an anxious attachment.

Peace

Peace is achieved when an individual's different elements are in harmony with each other, when she is aware and the master of her own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors and has found a way of balancing them. It occurs when the person feels and accepts her identity and then moves beyond it, when she is aware of her state of being and her moments. This is a very personal experience, which can only be realized through a person's knowledge of self and the components of her identity. This experience cannot be achieved by imitation, because something that works for one person does not necessarily mean that it will work for another. We can learn from other people's experiences, but we cannot copy what works for another. We have to find our own unique path to peace. It is essential to gather new, reliable sources of information and to stimulate our mind. But we need to mold this knowledge to our own situations, strengths, weaknesses, and potentials. We need to practice with our knowledge, or it is just a series of words. Peace can also be defined as the absence of hostilities, negative thoughts, and ongoing damaging emotions. It is an internal experience, not an external one. Some define peace as the ultimate happiness that we are all aiming for. It is when we get off the roller-coaster ride, with all its ups and downs, and find a place of inner stability. We are logical and stand still despite external factors. When we are at peace with our own self, we experience our life fully, because we get to focus on what matters to us rather than being dragged by unlimited external distractions.

Happiness

Finally, happiness is an emotional state defined as a feeling of satisfaction. As I said, happiness can also be defined as peace in its purest form. A true state of happiness is again a personal matter and can be different for different people. One's happiness may be another's sorrow. Until we learn who we are, it would be hard to know what makes us truly happy. The opposite side of happiness is unhappiness, but they are not separate entities; they are different areas of the same spectrum. They feel quite different, however. In psychology, a definition of happiness focuses on three areas: feeling good, having positive thoughts toward life, and not feeling bad. It is a general sense of satisfaction and looking forward to what is yet to come. In this view, there is no specific definition of happiness. It seems to be related to both quantity and quality of life. Too many people look for quantity to feel happy and respond quickly to their impulses to have a temporary sense of satisfaction, which they identify as happiness. But looking to find happiness through sense-stimulation would usually lead to temporarily satisfaction, which may leave the person wanting to gain more to feel the same or even less. Sometimes, chasing this type of happiness has costs that outweigh the benefits, and if we are unaware, then it only perpetuates the whole process and makes it repeat itself. We may end up feeling like chasing our own tail again. In this case, the person may invest a long time gaining something for a relatively short feeling of happiness. Besides that, looking for a true sense of happiness from the outside world can be overwhelming and confusing, as there is so much.

The key to a sense of true inner joy is learning to aim higher, for an ideal situation for our true self, while still being content with each stage. Again, this goes back to the fact that until we do not learn who we are, we cannot know what makes us happy or how to achieve it. We may imitate what we feel is making others happy, but that is usually not the answer for us.

As mentioned before, there are principles in life that one needs to be aware of and follow. We need to build a solid ground based on informed moral values and move from there. But the ground should not glue us to itself; we should be able to walk forward once it is build.

The point of having something is having it in balance and knowing how to use it. For example, as children, we need to have attachments to our surroundings because we can't survive on our own. This sense of attachment should diminish as we grow older to be replaced by more independence. This sense of independence is essential to the formation of a healthy identity and healthy connections. The healthier this process of maturation, the more capable of loving we will be. Where there is no more attachment, then there is the possibility of experiencing true love, a sense of expanded love that is unconditional. And it will be a love that comes from freedom, which in turn leads one to feelings of inner peace, inner confidence, and inner contentment, not insecurity and neediness.

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Learn more about Roya R. Rad, M.A., Psy.D. at www.SelfKnowledgeBase.com, a non-profit dedicated to public education.

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