Attaching to our stories causes suffering

“I have never experienced a stressful feeling that wasn’t caused by attaching to an untrue thought….[when] we have a thought that argues with reality, then we have a stressful feeling…” –Byron Katie in Loving What Is

“When we develop expectations in our minds that have our entire self-worth riding on their realization, we set ourselves up for shame.” –Brene Brown in I Thought it Was Just Me

The klesha mara is characterized by strong emotion. A simple feeling will arise, and instead of simply letting it be there, we panic. We begin to weave our thoughts into a story line, which gives rise to bigger emotions. Instead of just sitting in some kind of openness with our uncomfortable feeling, we bring out the bellows and fan away at it.” –Pema Chodron in When Things Fall Apart

"External situations are not the cause of internal problems." -Michael A. Singer in The Untethered Soul

"You (think) you have it all figured out. You know how everything is supposed to be, even the future. Your views, your opinions, your preferences, your concepts, your goals, and your beliefs are all ways of bringing the infinite universe down to the finite where you can feel a sense of control...This mental model has become your reality. You must now struggle day and night to make the world fit your model, and you label everything that doesn't fit as wrong, bad or unfair...if your mental model is bothering you, it's because it doesn't incorporate reality." -Michael A. Singer in The Untethered Soul  

"We do not suffer because we are in pain--we suffer because something has gone wrong with our story..." -Peter Hershock 

"It will take Rabih may years and frequent essays in love to reach a few different conclusions, to recognize that the very things he once considered romantic--wordless intuitions, instantaneous longings, a trust in soul mates--are what stand in the way of learning how to be with someone. He will surmise that love can endure only when one is unfaithful to its beguiling opening ambitions, and that, for his relationship to work, he will need to give up on the feelings that got him into them in the first place." -Alain de Botton in The Course of Love: A Novel


  • Loving What Is by Byron Katie

  • When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

  • The article, "Bouncing Back" by yogi and writer Sally Kempton speaks to the harm of attaching to the "kleshas" (yoga speak for the veils that make us imagine we are separate from others and the universe).

  • The Work is a method of thought inquiry developed by Byron Katie that helps practitioners to understand the pain that comes from attaching to the stories we tell ourselves instead of accepting the reality the world gives us. Byron Katie has created worksheets and other resources that can help guide you through the inquiry process. We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards? In this fast-moving and entertaining talk from TEDxBloomington, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity.  Achor explores the idea that when we attach to the story that our happiness depends on future events, as opposed to cultivating gratitude for the present moment, we set ourselves up for suffering and disappointment.